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Venezuela's opposition plans "The Mother of all Marches"

By Daniel Duquenal

Thursday 12, August 2004 - Yesterday was rather uneventful. The Electoral Board (CNE) did take a few decisions that were due. Evaluate whether they are wise is pointless at this point. The good thing was that at least they were taken. Too many things are still controversial, in particular picking up finger prints of voters. The more one looks at it, the more it looks at a scare tactic to make sure that the abstentions are within the anti Chavez vote. I do not think it will work as the anger of people at such clumsy maneuvers could have a very strong motivating effect.

One little interesting detail is the low level at which the chavista adds on TV have reached. The latest one shows the gray devil (the opposition SI) priming up a bull for a corrida against the Venezuelan NO represented by a little man with the Venezuelan flag colors but with the red heavily dominating. Of course the little guy avoids easily the Uncle Sam Bull and eventually sends it crashing against a NO fence, to the great consternation of the gray devil. The simplistic nature of this add is striking. Clearly the NO camp has desisted in appealing to the ABC demographic sectors of the Venezuelan population and has decided to go only for the more "educationally challenged" D and E sector of the population (1). I personally think that it is demeaning to think that these sectors will fall for such an add, but what do I know. This is not the first time that I have detected such an "intellectual" contempt for the chavista masses from their own leaders.

But no matter what, the cast is set. All the people I have talked to seem to coincide in that at least in the ABC sectors the percentage of the SI/NO have been set for the last 6 months and have not changed. The only number affected "might" be the abstention. D and E are a different story and that is were pollsters have trouble. For one thing their numbers have increased greatly as the government has granted citizenship this very year to hundred of thousand of people living as illegal aliens. Not to mention the scores of people given brand new ID and registered in the rolls at the same time. The percentages there, favoring Chavez, seem to have remained the same though now the big question is whether these people that never showed much interest in voting will be now interested. Maybe this is what is explaining the simplistic and primal tone of the Chavez campaign in its last days. After all Chavez has failed these two sectors by giving them more unemployment, more inflation, more misery that the "misiones" can only help as a band aid can help a broken bone. Emotion is the only card left for Chavez, creating imaginary enemies, creating a thirst for revenge. What does he care if the country ends up evermore divided as long as he is on top?

But today is the last official day of campaigning. Chavez made the possible error to close last Sunday, leaving the opposition the advantage to close today with a march, hopefully such a big march that some folks have called it the mother of all marches. Cleverly it is called for after 2 PM and will meet at Altamira distributor. This is clever because it allows people to go to work in the morning and for many of them to take off in the afternoon and join the march. Second, the highway at Altamira is the largest gathering point in Caracas. If the opposition fills it up the images will outshine anyone that Chavez might have obtained last Sunday on Avenida Bolivar. We will see.

Meanwhile I will get my flag, my whistle, my water bottle and at 2 PM I will join one of the six marches that will gather around 4 PM at the Altamira exchange. I will also have my camera and hopefully tonight I will post a few pictures.

(1) A, B, and C demographic sectors used to represent the middle and upper classes. D and E are the lower economical classes. These divisions made sense in the early 90ies but today it would be more proper to describe them as mind frame than actual economical power or lack thereof.

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