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Venezuela’s Chavez Inaugurates Campaign for Second Six-Year Term, Update 1

By Aleksander Boyd

London 07.02.06 | A revisited version of "Venezuela’s Chavez Inaugurates Campaign for Second Six-Year Term" reported in Chavez's media. Caracas, Venezuela, February 6, 2006 — In clear violation to current electoral legislation and 10 months before election day President Hugo Chavez officially inaugurated his reelection campaign for a second six-year term as president of Venezuela, on Saturday, Chavez made the launch official during at the end of a demonstration in commemoration ??? of the anniversary of his February 4, 1992 coup attempt against the then-government of President Carlos Andrés Perez.

Chavez announced a new “battle of Santa Inés,” to rally all possible support for him in the upcoming presidential elections. The first “battle of Santa Inés” campaign was to defeat the referendum recall vote of August 14, 2004, which Chavez defeated with 59% of the vote, but never allowed for proper scrutiny of ballots to be conducted. The term “battle of Santa Inés” comes from a key battle during Venezuela’s 19th century civil war.

Chavez said he wants to “reactivate the Electoral Battle Units” (UBEs), which had first been activated during the recall referendum. These UBEs are made up of supporters who campaign and recruit campaign volunteers with the aim of attaining 10 million votes out of a projected 16 million registered voters on December 3, 2006, Venezuela’s electoral registry currently has 14 million voters, which means an increase, in ten months, of some 2 million voters from the present number of the electoral roll. No wonder why Hugo Cabezas, head of Venezuela's identification and immigration (ONIDEX) took a road trip to Bolivia, Ecuador and other places, with naturalisation equipment handy, so that the roll can be atunned to Chavez's exigencies with new 'Bolivarians.'

According to National Assembly president Nicolas Maduro, the demonstration, which was called “March for Dignity and Bolivarian Rebellion” WTF?? and marched over 15 kilometers—nearly the entire length of Caracas—involved 2.5 million demonstrators. Other estimates said that the number of demonstrators was closer to several hundred thousand. Chavista data: non reliable.

Chavez’s 1992 coup attempt aimed to topple an immensely unpopular President Perez. Ergo, according to this line of reasoning, it would be equally fitting to topple Hugo Chavez by violent means today. Many held Perez responsible for the killings of hundreds, if not thousands, (there does not exist a reliable number of deaths for the tragic event) of Venezuelans in the aftermath of riots that occurred in 1989. The riots and subsequent killings by police and military forces were the result of the implementation of a military contingency plan called "Plan Avila", whose aim is to placate riots, looting and civil unrest when police forces capacities have been exhausted or overtaken, are known in Venezuela as the “Caracazo.” Chavez has made it a habit of celebrating the anniversary with large marches to Avenida Bolivar, the capital’s largest avenue. But in fact Hugo Chavez also ordered the implementation of this contingency plan on April 11 2002 to placate a peaceful demonstration, which led to his removal.

This past week Chavez has been holding one major speaking event after the other, where he has been announcing a variety of new government programs. At a speech celebrating his seventh anniversary in office, last Thursday, Chavez announced a 15% increase in the minimum wage, bringing it up to $220. Normally increases to the minimum wage are announced by Chavez on May 1, the international workers’ holiday, but Chavez said this time the raise would be moved up. It is therefore evident that Chavez's intention to buy out the electorate has commenced in earnest.

Also, during Chavez’s weekly television program Alo Presidente, Chavez announced a new model for the National Public Healthcare system. Chavez said $449 million will be used to upgrade and improve 43 hospitals with the help of Cuban doctors and medical advisors. This new model comes seven years after he was elected, for up until this time funds earmarked for the procurement of goods and services for Venezuelan hospitals have been deviated by the central government, read Chavez, to the Barrio Adentro plan, which is a network of primary care centers operated by Cubans that have not met the validation requirements of Venezuela's Medical Federation.

The Venezuelan President said, “I have these resources please note that Chavez speaks in the first person as if the country's resources were his, but these efforts have to be made as fast as possible. I am asking for efficiency and speed to manage these funds.” Amongst other things the money will be used to buy more than 30,000 pieces of new medical equipment. About time...

The role that housewives play in the economy and the nation also needs to be rewarded said Chavez. Beginning this summer, 200,000 poor homemakers will each receive roughly $200 (372,000 Bs) a month. Extending the buyout to housewives, effectively one of the staunchest groups in opposition to his militaristic project.

Chavez said, “These mothers work a lot, ironing, washing, preparing food, cleaning, pot banging against my regime, and bringing up kids.” More money has been set aside for the project and the number of beneficiaries could quickly rise above half a million.

Which women would receive the money would depend on several conditions. These include marital status, how many children they have, their living conditions and already existing levels of family support. And who will assess those conditions?

The measure is an outgrowth of Venezuela’s 1999 constitution, whose article 88 specifies that the constitution recognizes household work is economic activity that produces wealth and well being. Also, according to this article, since it is economic activity, homemakers have the right to a pension. The constitution also establishes "The following are attributions and duties of the President of the Republic: (1) To comply with and enforce this Constitution and the law" (Art. 236) which Chavez has not done for the past seven years.

During the Saturday march Chavez also addressed Venezuela military preparedness, saying that the country needs, “1 million well armed men and women, including the reserves, to defend the country.” For what purpose? Venezuela is not at war with any country but does have the majority of its formally employed population earning, with the new pay rise, $220/month. This figure is lower than the 2 million he has said he wanted in the past. Actually, Chavez has not been able to reach the 100.000 figure.

Venezuela is about to receive 100,000 Russian Kalashnikov rifles. Surely FARC comrades must be ecstatic with this sort of information. Chavez said a lot more weapons need to be bought to defend Venezuela properly, from whom? His regime is yet to present conclusive and credible evidence of any foreign or internal attempts against it, so that it could defend itself in case of a U.S. invasion. Hot air, not substantiated with evidence. Above all, said Chavez, his supporters would have to be united in the face of this principal “enemy of the Bolivarian revolution.”

Also in conjunction with the commemoration of the 1992 coup attempt, Chavez announced that his former comrade in the rebellion, Francisco Arias Cardenas, would soon be joining his government. Life in the opposition can be tough, especially if no one supports one's views... Arias Cardenas was a close supporter of Chavez’s up until shortly before Chavez’s 2000 presidential campaign, when Arias ran against Chavez for the presidency. Ever since Chavez’s defeat of the 2004 recall referendum, though, Arias has indicated that he would consider supporting Chavez once more. Money talks and bullshit walks!

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