Venezuelan Election: Rojo Rojito or Rosalito?

Venezuela wakes up to Election Day: Rojo Rojito o Rosalito?

Those who support the revolutionary process in Venezuela, support the new
participatory democracy, their novel, progressive constitution, and of
course, their president, Hugo Rafael Chavez Frias, are confident in the
popularity of their president and of his impending victory over opposition
candidate Manuel Rosales. Of course, the opposition hasn’t conceded.
Chavez keeps winning and no matter how loud the opposition and their US
sponsors (like the National Endowment for Democracy) whines about it,
neither their military coup, economic sabotage, PR smear campaign(s), or
any other tactic has worked in the last 8 years that Chavez and what he’s
labeled the 5th Republic has taken the reigns. Chavez won in 1998 with a
campaign promising constitutional reform. Under the new constitution
ratified in 1999, he was reelected as president of the new "Bolivarian"
Republic of Venezuela in 2000. Coup (2002). Industrial sabotage (2003-
sorry, guys, by the bosses). Opposition groups backed by US government
and private funds successfully organized a recall election in 2004, which
Chavez won, and although it was certified by international elections
monitors like Jimmy Carter, the opposition still labeled the election
results fraudulent. In the last election for congressional
representatives, sensing impending defeat, all opposition candidates
withdrew from their races a matter of weeks before the election. What a
bunch of babies, right? Well, from a strategic standpoint they can now
claim there are no checks and balances in the system because there is
little dissent now within and coming from the legislative branch.

This is an important election. There is a tremendous sense of urgency from
the left and the right. On the left the desire to demonstrate to the world
that YES Venezuela is democratic and the people do support Chavez and "el
proceso." There is talk of defending the revolution from the return of 4th
republic, the old guard that ruled for 40 years since the last dictator in
1958. On the right the urgency that comes from losing and fearing what is
to come, what they call cubanization. Both sides are talking about fraud.
So then we have two sides, both on defense. The Chavistas intend to defend
the revolution. The Escuálidos (as the opposition is known) import to
defend the vote. At least that is the slogan. The hardliners don’t mince
words. There is talk of other coup attempt in attempt to reestablish the
order undoubtedly lost is the chaos to follow the fraudulent elections.

It should be mentioned that their is a separate government body apart from
the courts, the congress, and the president, one of five government bodies
called the CNE, or National Electoral Centre. They administer all
elections in the country. Walking the streets around commercial centers,
plazas, the metro, there are kiosks with trained volunteers at the ready
to explain the voting process and hand out samples of the voting screen on
the electronic voting machine. CNE also advertises on television a role
play voting session. It’s quite a distinction from those butterfly ballots
and hanging chads, a real attempt to improve democratic participation.

Kinks in the system
Allegations of intentions to disrupt the process, to make things seem
shady are rampant. For example, the 3 principle members of the electoral
table at José Marti elementary in Sarría, Caracas hadn’t shown up
yesterday morning. About 10 community members stood across the street in
red t-shirts or caps or other things (indicating support for Chavez),
waiting, observing, speculating. The "testigos," those who are assigned
to observe the process and record irregularities, also waited. Nothing
begins with out the president and secretary of the electoral table
(locally elected officials). Was this an attempt to disrupt the process
or just poor time management? Of course, this is not the only example.

Tengo la camisa negra
The word on the street is that these Escuálidos must be psychic...they
already know how the elections will go down. In anticipation of the
terrible fraud to be committed so that Chavez can maintain his
dictatorial reign, it was discovered, the opposition had printed a batch
of black t-shirts that say fraud in large white letters.

More electronic voting machine questions
One fraud scheme some have exposed as a potential threat is just the
opportunity to flat out lie. Some have heard of a plan that goes like
this: I’m Escuálido. I walk in to vote, normal routine, proceed to the
voting machine, vote for CHAVEZ, receive my paper ballot receipt to be
placed in the ballot box (the checks system to allow a paper ballot
recount), and then shout "FRAUD! I voted for Rosales. This machine is a
piece of crap. It was rigged. This election is a scam."

Media matters
The liberal media is up to it again down here, er wait…the major media
outlets are died in the wool tools of the opposition. Lefty organizers
expect the full complicity of the media today in the plan to paint the
picture of chaos and disorder. They worry especially about media outlets
like El Universo, a major newspaper in Caracas. Apparently, this
periodical’s license expires in two years. Since the editors have not
being trying to win friends and influence people (well, at least not
Chavez), some say that the paper will not try and place nice and
objective, but hasten to support the removal of Chavez.

So, support your local, independent, community media outlets, guys!

We know who we are and we know where we’re going!
>From community radio to neighborhood militias, those who are with Chavez
and the Bolivarian process, will tell you that they are prepared for
whatever happens. Their getting out the vote, and they are organized at
the community level to respond to what they preserve as threats against
their democracy. They’ll tell you they aren’t anticipating violence, but
if it comes, they are prepared. The opposition plans to instigate and
exaggerate disorder and violence as a pretext for military intervention,
many say. But it doesn’t matter. We’re 10 millions of consciences. We are
the majority. Says Patria, pregnant mama and head of security for one
community radio station’s Election Day coverage, we know who we are and we
know we´re going.

Portland activist in Venezuela 12/3/06

The media's job is to interest the public in the public interest. -John Dewey