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Manuel Rosales draws huge crowd in Venezuela´s Llanos

By Aleksander Boyd

Valle de la Pascua 22.09.06 – Two of the most important cities of Venezuela´s Llanos saw impressive levels of support in rallies for opposition candidate Manuel Rosales. The first in San Juan de Los Morros and the second in Valle de la Pascua was, according to local resident Orlando Vale, the biggest rally the city had seen in many years. ¨What we saw today we hadn´t seen since the days of the first campaign of Carlos Andres Perez¨ said Vale, who added with emotion ¨and there are even more people today!¨ The rally started in a chavista neighborhood know as Las Garcitas. From there roughly a 3 km walk ended with an emotional speech in which Rosales appealed local interests by assuring producers that the current policy of massive staple imports are to end as soon as he reaches power. ¨This government is decimating the country´s agricultural sector. Producers can not compete against a phenomaly wealthy administration that keeps on favouring foreign producers rather than Venezuelan ones¨ Rosales claimed.

The poor condition in which most access roads are was another issue celebrated by the locals. The most remarkable moments of the spiel were when Rosales touched upon the right that those who have lived in and worked the land have with regards to its property. One of the pillars of Rosales´ ticket is to transfer the property of the land to its rightful owners, many of whom are yet to see meaningful measures taken in that respect, for the current practice is to grant leases or sort of production rights -while the government maintains titles of ownership- whereas Rosales is offering complete transfer of property to campesinos. The icing on the cake was his reference to Mi Negra, which is an initiative to distribute a percentage of the oil income directly to the people similar to the one implemented in Alaska. On this issue he refuted official criticism –that has it that it is nothing but an unrealistic offer to dupe people into populist measures- by saying ¨now there´s some talk about this programme being populist but let me tell you that our intention is not to turn you into lazy individuals by giving you left overs as it happens now. On the contrary I will put all of you to work by guaranteeing property rights within a legal framework that will encourage local and foreign private investment which will turn into jobs creation and wealth. Mi Negra is your share of the oil pie and the use of those funds will depend entirely on you. It is not a subsidy, is an inalienable right of all Venezuelans. 100 years of oil production has left us very little and I am determined to change that.¨

Readers may imagine the sort of uproar that these words had on Guariqueños, neglected and victimized as they have been by the oppressive administration of chavista governor Eduardo Manuit.

Rosales also made reference to the many successful programmes that he has implemented in his native state of Zulia. ¨We don´t demand of people to don red t-shirts of withstand humiliation in order to receive assistance from the government. In Zulia all Venezuelans are equal. My government has for instance entered into agreements with private universities which provide free education to the less fortunate. That has permitted that more than 3.000 students are graduating in institutions where formerly only those with money could afford to get private university education.¨

His concluding remarks were an appeal to vote massively. Rosales stated that the government has sought to confuse and frightened people with the electronic voting devices ¨pay no heed to that, look at us in Zulia, we have won with those machines simply because we were careful enough to look after our votes. This coming December we will make the same all around the country and we shall win so that peace, democracy and prosperity will return.¨

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