VENEZUELA: The barrio at night
Take Two. The dreaded technical difficulties might be coming back. I went to the barrio of La Vega tonight, and just got back (it´s 12:45am on August 16 and the August 15 referendum has become the August 15/16 referendum). This will be the last bulletin before the results come out for real.
La Vega, our guides told me, is one of the oldest parts of Caracas, a barrio of some 300,000 people. Our guides asked us to go there because they wanted to make sure there was some coverage of neglected parts of town where a predominance of pro-Chavez voters and a lack of media attention would be the norm. The rumours are flying fast and furious but I won´t repeat them. Instead, I´ll just tell you what I saw.
We went to a couple of polling stations. The folks who came to the media centre to look for interested journalists talked of very very long lines. But by the time they came to the centre, picked us up, and go us back into La Vega, much had cleared up. The lines were manageable, the work was coming to an end. Elsewhere, long lines had become short lines and many stations had closed. I would imagine that by now the results are being counted and checked. As always, we were allowed freely through the polling stations, to talk to whoever we wanted -- witnesses, voters, workers. There were some complaints about the lineups and some about the fingerprint registration, but no complaints about transparency of clarity of the process or the vote.
The other thing that I can tell you is that the celebrations are already on. In La Vega, people are singing, dancing, eating and celebrating in the street as if they knew the NO had won. Same with at Miraflores. There are caravans heading down from the neighbourhoods into the city. Maybe premature? We will know quite soon. Meanwhile, one of the private TV networks is taking this historic and unprecedented moment as an opportunity to show an American film called "Indecent Proposal." Maybe it´s a keen sense of irony?