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Venezuela: poll wars revisited

By Aleksander Boyd

Caracas 14.11.06 | When I'm in town I try to pick as much as I can the talk of the moment. Right now polls dominate the scene. Everyone is worried about them. Officialdom has somewhat successfully advanced the premise that the coming election is already in the bag, a done deal. To construct that line of reasoning the Chavez regime has contracted the services of American pollsters, some of which have had no qualms in admitting that PDVSA commissioned them. Bear in mind that this very same PDVSA is according to its director and Minister of Energy, Venezuela's President and Vice President squarely behind the revolution, that is to say PDVSA pays for what the militaristic caudillo wants to hear. Mind you, this American firms don't conduct the polls themselves but farm out the fieldwork to local pollsters, most of whose principle livelihood depends on government's largesse and are completely unknown, such as Consultores 30.11. To top it all off the methodology is completely flawed. Face to face interviews at people's homes in a country where the president says that the names of those who dared sign their names to recall him would stay on record forever, aren't reliable. Ergo any poll that fails to include the fear factor is fundamentally flawed, furthermore any poll that pegs the old opposition to Rosales' candidacy is not trustworthy.

Aside from that local pollsters seldom go to barrios let alone to the countryside or other cities of Venezuela. Their target is more often than not Caracas' social strata that have been prosecuted the most due to political reasons. How can these results be taken at face value? How can serious journalists and analysts ignore these important factors? Today I spoke for a while with the correspondant from Le Monde, she started out by saying that Chavez had a healthy 20% lead. Her perception changed the moment I showed her pictures of the massive rallies all around Venezuela, she didn't know, she just hadn't seen those images. But what stroke me was her naivete vis-a-vis Chavez. It is incredible that so late in the game, after so many lies people still buy into his rubbish without questioning all aspects.

Chavez doesn't have a healthy 20% lead or massive support any longer, he can't fill long avenues or sit in baseball games, he doesn't allow local reporters to film his rather pathetic rallies of late and he wouldn't even dare visit 5 states in as many days to rally his so called troops, as Rosales keeps doing. Poll results can be fabricated, hundreds of thousands of people can not.

Update about Chavez’s latest poll

Reuters reported today “The Center for Political and Social Studies, a Spanish group that commissioned a poll by Madrid's Complutense University, pegged support for Chavez at 57.8 percent.” A Google search for the Center for Political and Social Studies (CEPS or Centro de Estudios Politicos y Sociales in Spanish) points quickly to ATTAC. ATTAC is a France-founded organization associated to rather radical parties and groups from around the world. Bernard Cassen, General Director of Le Monde Diplomatique and Chavez cheerleader, and also associate of one Chavez’s main European apologist Ignacio Ramonet, appears to have chaired a meeting in Geneva where CEPS participated. Polls commissioned by this group can not be trusted.

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