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Venezuela says NO to Hugo Chavez

By Aleksander Boyd

Marbella 03.12.07 - Before anything else I publicly admit that I misread, yet again, the political climate in my country and I was wrong about the likely outcome of yesterday’s referendum when I stated that victory for Chavez was a given.

The result of the referendum lends itself to different readings, the most obvious being number of votes for and against the illegal, and now unpopular, reform: 4.379.392 in favor (a year ago 7.309.080 people voted for Chavez in the presidential race) and 4.504.354 against it. Ergo while the opposition, led by the student movement, managed to increase its numbers by some 200,000 (compared to votes cast for Manuel Rosales last December), officialdom, in spite of the huge advantage in terms of funds and media, saw 3 million of its supporters shunning the reform and sitting out the vote. Some chavistas have attributed this defeat to poor performance on behalf of Chavez´s government. Such candid admissions, to be applauded and encouraged by all of us, just reiterate what we have been saying all along.

In accepting defeat the caudillo regains some lost democratic lustre and his Smartmatics have been given a fresh start. Some have even suggested that no fraud was ever committed in the last years, evidence to the contrary notwithstanding. However we have seen how previous sheepish attitudes have evolved. I for one do not trust it and that’s the reason why I do not feel the happiness shared by my fellow compatriots, especially after watching Chavez’s warning: “enjoy your victory for now.” What we know is that from every apparent defeat he has came out stronger, so why would be different this time round? Or are we to believe that an electoral defeat turns someone with totalitarian bone marrow into a democrat overnight?

Electoral authorities took an inordinate amount of time in announcing results. Why?

The rejected constitutional reform can still be presented and petitioned for by a percentage of registered voters and Chavez still controls unrestrictedly Congress, Judiciary, PDVSA and does pretty much what he wants, while the opposition is still disorganized, without a clear leadership, unity of purpose and common goal.

It is evident now that lesser revolutionary caudillos, whose personal agendas stood in the way of mobilisation of chavista vote, are not to accept party’s diktats just like that. Three million chavistas are equally to be thanked for their abstention means that they are not prepared to write a blank check to the caudillo, regardless of handouts. In any case, Chavez´s delirium of becoming ruler for life has been rejected por ahora.

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