The Venezuelan Referendum Ends
The Venezuelan Referendum Ends
At the time of writing (6am), the preliminary results of the Venezuelan referendum are in, courtesy of the National Electoral Council (CNE) of
They did not do so. In an opposition press conference at , spokesperson for the Coordinadora Democratica Henry Ramos Allup rejected the results of the referendum and cited two members of the CNE who are aligned with the opposition who questioned the preliminary results.
Ramosâ€™s figures, that presumably come from exit polls conducted by opposition volunteers according to dubious methodology (for a taste of the methodology take a look at Jonah Gindinâ€™s latest article on Venezuelanalysis:
http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/articles.php?artno=1248), have 8 million voters in total, of whom 59% voted SI and 41% NO. On the surface, this suggests a very simple methodology: a matter of flipping the official numbers. Ramos promised to spend the rest of Monday gathering evidence to present the oppositionâ€™s case to the international community, and mobilize to fight against the "gigantic fraud" that the opposition accuses the government of having committed.
Speaking of fraud, the UK Independents reporter Hannah Baldock seems to have violated Venezuelan law, using the oppositionâ€™s phony exit polls to declare a Chavez loss early on Sunday. The article seems to have been quietly removed from the Independentâ€™s website, but the NarcoNews team did a dissection of the piece (see here:
http://narcosphere.narconews.com/story/2004/8/15/205259/595#1) that includes Baldockâ€™s figures: she cites "mid-morning results" (from where?) that "showed that the opposition, already boasting an enormous 1,758,000 votes to Chavez's 798,000, is well on its way to reaching the target of 3.76 million votes it needs to oust the authoritarian, left-wing President."
The Independent might have retired Baldockâ€™s article from the site, but there is little doubt that the international press will seize on the oppositionâ€™s figures and contrast them with the CNEâ€™s. The referendum has been true to the pattern in
On the morning of the 16th, the world awaited a declaration from non-Venezuelans as to whether Venezuelans, having voted in a vast majority to keep their President, would be "allowed" by the "international community" to keep him. The
There were, in addition to the sleaziness of the international media, irregularities and even tragedies. The fingerprint registration machines malfunctioned in many places, and combined with record levels of participation, resulted in very long lineups all over the country.
Various incidents occurred in which soldiers accidentally fired their weapons, resulting, according to wire services like Dow Jones and EFE, in 3 deaths. There was also a drive-by shooting that killed one and injured over 10 people outside of
The strangest incident came in the afternoon, when a fake tape containing an impersonation of the president of the National Electoral Council was discovered. On it, the fake CNE president was heard announcing that the SI forces had won with a truly fantastic landslide of 11 436 086 votes.
The real president held an immediate press conference promising an "exhaustive investigation" into this "serious electoral crime".
On the morning of the 15th, most of the media were concentrated in the barrio of 23 enero, a huge, poor neighbourhood of some 500,000, to catch Chavez voting. A member of the Coordinadora Simon Bolivar, a grassroots pro-Chavez organization in the barrio, talked of the barrioâ€™s long history of resistance. Since the 1960s, the barrio has been through resistance and repression. They came out en masse to vote in August because the Chavez government gave their community opportunities they never had before. "This process will go on with or without Chavez", Jose said, at a community basketball court far from the action, "but we support the process and we support Chavez because he is a democrat, an anti-imperialist, and a leftist."
Community volunteers were eager to have journalists and observers watch the voting process, which at the two stations I visited was working well, if slowed down by the fingerprint registration system. The double system seemed to be clear enough: voters pressed a button on a machine to vote electronically. The machine then produced a printed ballot which the voter could check. The voter then put the ballot in the box. This system makes fraud difficult, and it also seemed quite easy to the voters in the neighbourhood. After visiting the stations, some members of the community showed me some of the place. They were completely confident of victory, preparing for the celebration party by noon.
From 23 enero, I went to Chacaito, one of the wealthiest neighbourhoods in
Approaching midnight, we visited some other neighbourhoods and voting stations, this time in La Vega, one of
Real results were much longer in coming -- almost 4 hours after midnight.
And immediately after that, the opposition announced, more than its rejection of the vote, its intention to never allow the Venezuelan democratic process to develop normally. Until now, the
Justin Podur will be in