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Latest Surreal News from Venezuela

By Alex Beech

04.12.05 | You have to love a country in which one evening, an email circulates which reads: urgent: the government has a plan to incite violence and a possible military order to blame the opposition for 'destabilizing' the country with this 'electoral coup', referring to the recent opposition boycott of congressional elections. The next day, the news is sprinkled with stories of little bombs exploding throughout the city, even two in Fort Tiuna, the country's military headquarters. Floating around one bomb were sheets of paper with anti-Chavez slogans. Sadly, the Venezuelan government, led by a paranoid caricature of a man who once planned a real coup, has now descended into pathetic tactics. The only thing remaining is for men draped in the American flag to be spotted running away. Every ill-conceived plan that the government hatches has a name, like "Plan Balboa", the name which Chavez volunteered to Ted Koppel when discussing the "plan" which the US government had devised for his assassination. (My all-time favorite remains the day Pedro Carreno, a lawmaker and member of Chavez's inner circle, denounced on television that Direct TV was spying on Venezuelans through their television sets.) The opposition has made a historical and piercing statement by withdrawing from the elections on Sunday. There is no greater bomb than the civil disobedience which quietly exploded in Venezuela's landscape. Any other noise in the distance is the screams of Chavez's government, threatening government workers to vote or else...

The national coordinator of Justicia Obrera (Worker's Justice) announced that workers at CVG, a major government corporation, are being threatened with losing their jobs if they do not vote. The organization claims that "workers are being asked at what time they plan to vote, and are being assigned as voting center coordinators" to force them to vote. As I wrote earlier, Chavez is trying to avoid the major embarrassment of a high abstention rate, since no opposition candidates are running...

Not that you would know it from listening to Chavez's lap dogs, otherwise known as the National Elections Council. Elections official, Tibisay Lucena, said that over 95% of regional party candidates are signed up and ready to go. How curious that an electoral board would announce that 95% of parties are prepared for the elections, when every major opposition party withdrew from the election. Could it be because the electoral board is controlled by a propaganda-savvy government, and therefore bows to its leader?

In a final yawn, the National Armed Forces announced that nearly all voting centers are prepared for Sunday's election. In other words, the computerized system which can track how each voter votes, and report it back to the government, is ready.

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