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A year on Venezuela´s political landscape unchanged

By Aleksander Boyd

Marbella 30.11.07 - At this time last year I was in the thick of a presidential campaign. For some 50 days I had been shadowing the opposition candidate of choice, traveling around Venezuelan cities and towns, getting all worked and excited about what appeared to be his growing chances of beating Chavez at the ballots. Mind you having been pushed, hugged, carried, stepped on, run over, kissed, hit and, in a way, instantly loved, just for being part of the entourage of a politico, is a life changing experience. It is humbling. Seeing thousands and thousands of compatriots cheering and singing and dancing in the midst of striking poverty, immersed in a state of collective frenzy, day in and day out, has a potent effect on one’s objectivity and I must admit that my perception then was clearly altered by what I was living on a daily basis. The party-like atmosphere of rallies is very contagious, that’s for certain. Election day came and I promised myself not to be carried away in order to do some serious reporting.

Then as now there were many polls out there. Then as now pundits were making all sorts of predictions about what would happen. Then as now some top brass military officers warned about the looming conflict. Then as now some journalists were letting political sympathies cloud judgment. And of course most of us in the opposition were carried away by the momentum, not based on reality but rather on what we wished reality were, on a collectively projected painting where we were portrayed as victors. What proved to be a wrong approach then has not changed in the slightest. Although it is a given that Chavez’s image abroad is in the substratum most people should know by now that that does not matter at all internally. Tyrants are not toppled by dressing down from Kings nor from New York Times´ articles. As far as such news lift the spirit of many Venezuelans and makes some of us feel vindicated, in reality the coming vote on Sunday will still be done with lottery devices cum electoral machines that no one audits: i.e. Smartmatics. In reality the opposition has failed to recruit the necessary number of electoral witnesses –for the second year running- that could have ensured that the total number of votes to be reported have any relation with how people actually voted. In reality the student movement has failed to mount a nationwide civil resistance non violent platform that could have brought pressure to bear simultaneously on military and electoral servants upon conclusion of the vote hence forcing the hand of the caudillo to do something stupid, as he did in 2002. In reality the opposition, as a political entity, is today as harmless and defenceless as it was when lead by the likes of Rosales and Petkoff in 2006. Some believe that the emergence of a new leadership is fortunate and timely, I beg to disagree for they are as ill equipped for the task at hand and as clueless as to the real nature of the foe as those before.

The painting is still hanging on most mental walls though. It could be that now I am watching things from afar and have made a conscious effort of not letting wishful thinking stand in the way. By no means I am claiming that I posses the one and only truth, in fact I could be as wrong as I was last December. However this time round I have no doubt that Chavez’s reform will win the referendum and in only three days time I will realize whether my perception of my country’s reality is getting better with time or not.

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