spontaneous gathering at Miraflores

Monday, on December 3, 2007. This morning, text messages began circulating among mobile phones of those who support the process, calling to go to Miraflores this Tuesday afternoon to give support and solidarity to President Hugo Chavez after the “No” had been imposed on the referendum this Sunday. Text messages had no specific author, but began to multiply and replicate spontaneously.

Then, Radio Nacional de Venezuela echoed some of those named, including the Hindu journalist Anderi, coordinator of the Forum Itinerant People’s Power and conductor of a radio program on that station. Then, Radio Nacional de Venezuela echoed some of those named, including the Hindu journalist Anderi, coordinator of the Forum Itinerant People’s Power and driver of a radio program on that station.

For the moment (6:00 pm), hundreds of people are in the vicinity of Miraflores, expressing support for the Chief Executive, as well as “doing catharsis,” discussing and expressing the reasons why, in his view, was lost the referendum this Sunday. For the moment (6:00 pm), hundreds of people are in the vicinity of Miraflores, expressing support for the Chief Executive, as well as “doing catharsis,” discussing and expressing the reasons why, in his view, the referendum was lost this Sunday.

Personalities as Jorge Rodriguez and Lina Ron has been directed to the public from a small truck with cornets, giving them encouragement and support. (source Radio YKVE Mundial)

PS More reports from Caracas indicate that the some in the rally denounced certain government officials as “traitors” and the general mood was one of saying that there needs to be a “cleansing of the house” meaning that corrupt officials, bureaucrats and reformists must be kicked out.


what happened?

I don’t think that I have ever felt so physically and mentally exhausted. Physically, because I sleep on a mattress on the floor of the living room and the comrades in the flat went to bed an hour ago. They had been up until 6.30am playing music and writing articles on the computer trying to analyse the results of the referendum, so sleep was constantly interrupted. Emotionally, because today I leave Caracas for Quito in Ecuador and the past 28 days here have been an emotional roller-coaster ending up in a massive crash.

What happened? When we started the blog, the signs were that the results were going to be close. The opposition was mobilising and was making inroads into areas of support, workers and people of colour, that they had never had before. Some ultra left trade union leaders like Chirinos were also calling for a No vote and therefore sowing confusion amongst some sections of workers. The pro Chavez campaign was music, songs, red flags and the handing out glossy material as if that was all to the campaign. It was devoid of content that explained. I have said all of this in previous blogs.

And then came the euphoria of the pro Chavez rally and we got carried away with the show of strength on the streets. I predicted an even greater winning margin for Chavez yet the reality on the day was that the opposition forces mobilised and Chavez’s support fell by more than 3 million compared to the presidential elections of a year ago. I should have taken more notice of the words of one of the leaders of the 23 de Enero barrio, a man called Carlos, when he said that people will turn out for the presidential elections but not for constitutional reform matters. In other words they will turn out when Chavez’s position is at stake.

As the delay from in the announcement of the results by the National Electoral Council went on into the early hours of the morning we knew that something serious was going on. Chavez had promised to resign if the proposals were rejected. Was he preparing his resignation speech?

When he did appear and spoke of the willingness of people to engage in democratic voting systems, we knew that he had lost and that the proposals for constitutional change would be shelved, POR AHORA, for now. Yet he did not resign. He still has another 5 years as president and although the changes to the constitution would have taken the revolution forward ON PAPER, the fact is that at the moment the process of the revolution is deepening on the streets, in the barrios and in the workplaces.

This will be a setback for Chavez’s supporters. And Chavez himself will now come under terrific pressure from some of is own so-called supporters in the state bureaucracy who will advocate a slowing down of the changes and an accommodation, a reconciliation with the opposition. But how in a relatively backward capitalist country like Venezuela, where the bourgeoisie is tied by a thousand threads to the interests of multinational conglomerates and imperialism and is therefore incapable of taking Venezuelan society forward, can you have a reconciliation between the forces of capital and the forces of labour? SUCH A RECONCILIATION WOULD BE AT THE EXPENSE OF ALL THE REFORMS THAT HAVE BEEN CARRIED OUT AS THE BOURGEOISIE SEEKS TO RECOVER ITS DOMINANCE IN THIS COUNTRY.

Will Chavez be able to resist these pressures? If he relies only on the state bureaucracy, no. If he now mobilises the ranks of the Socialist Party and encourages the setting up of councils in the workplaces, on the land, in the universities and barrios, and brings these councils together at local, regional and national level as alternative organs of power, then he will have a solid social and political base to carry through reforms not on paper but with the living forces of the working class, the peasantry, the marginalised sectors and the students.

We have always said that constitutions are bits of paper that reflect the balance of forces at any given moment. The real battle will be between living people outside the realms of assemblies and parliaments. Yes, the result is a setback, but only that. It is not a defeat. Many battles have been won by the Bolivarian Revolution in this war, this battle was lost. The war however continues, and has to continue, because capitalism can offer nothing to the people of Venezuela and Latin America.

A starting point in the counter attack must be the war on economic sabotage, the withholding of products from supermarkets by capitalist firms. If people have the food that they need, the basis of support can be rebuilt. The next point of attack must be to take on the state bureaucracy to weed out those who are deliberately sabotaging the pace of existing reforms and to attack head on the corruption that exists. These two measures alone IN DEEDS will do far more to reactivate the basis of Chavez’s support than ALL THE WORDS that have been spoken about the need to move towards socialism.

Darrall Cozens
December 3rd 2007

CNE announces NO win (updated entry)

At 1.07 am, after a long wait, the National Electoral Council has announced the victory of the NO with 4, 504, 354 votes, 50,70% and 4,379,392, 49.29% for the YES. Chávez has recognised the result and is addressing the people on TV.

2.03 am, the detail of the results announced by CNE is:

A Block, first part of the reform

No: 4.504.354, 50,70 %
Yes: 4.379.392, 49.29 %
Votes counted: 8.883.746
Nullified: 118.693
Total votes: 9.002.439
Abstention 44,39 %

B Block, second part of reform

No: 4.522.332, 51,05 %
Yes: 4.335.136, 48.94 %

These are not yet 100% results but the “tendency will not be reversed” says CNE president Tibisay Lucena.

2.41 am looking at the figures, in relation to the 2006 presidential elections, the opposition has only increased less than 100,000 votes (thought this is not yet 100% count), while Chávez loses 2,8 million which go to abstention.

Chávez has said that “for now” it could not be done (paraphrasing his 1992 speech), but that he will continue fighting for the proposal of social change contained in the reform, that the struggle will be a long and protracted one. He also said that this is an indication of the strength of the democratic institutions and proof that in Venezuela there is no dictatorship. He asked the opposition to administer their victory with caution.

On opposition Globosivión, a leader of the reactionary students, Baduel and Manuel Rosales appeared. They all appealed for national reconciliation. Baduel talked of the need for a new National Constituent Assembly.

HOV Venezuelan Referendum Rally, Toronto Dec 2nd

On a cold and snowy day in Toronto, about 20 solidarity activists gathered to support the constitutional reforms in Venezuela and say no to CIA destabilization plans. Hands Off Venezuela designed signs highlighting the progressive reforms in the referendum to cut through the lies and distortions of Western media and the Venezuelan oligarchy. Opposition supporters showed their “democratic” credentials by shouting that nobody except them had a right to demonstrate, that Bolivarian activists are “terrorists” and that anybody supporting Chávez was an “idiot.” With attitudes such as these it is not surprising that that the mass of the Venezuelan people say No Volverán – they will not return!

Watch a video of the rally here:

Reuters talks of YES vote – Bolivarians start to celebrate

8.20 pm in Caracas, no official results are yet known, but according to figures quoted by Reuters, the YES vote would win by between 6 and 8 points, and this is what the international media (never friendly to the Bolivarian revolution) is starting to report. Other sources give the YES a bigger lead.

Bolivarian supporters have started to gather outside Miraflores palace to celebrate. The leader of the reactionary students Yon Goicoechea appeal to his supporters to stay in the polling stations and “defend the vote”, implying that fraud is going on.

polling stations close

At 4.47 pm, Venezuelan time, the president of the National Electoral Council, Tibisay Lucena, announced the closing of polling stations, though, she added, polling stations where there are still queues should remain open until everyone in the queue has voted.

Isolated incidents took place during the day and a total of 46 people have been arrested. According to reports on the CMR website, in Táchira groups of opposition students went to polling stations to harass people into voting NO and tried to prevent Julio García Jarpa, a Bolivarian member of the national assembly from voting at the Escuela Ana Dolores Fernández polling station. Groups of Bolivarian supporters riding motorbikes, including Bolivarian deputy Iris Varela, alerted about the situation, arrived at the polling station and Julio Garcia was allowed to vote.

On Thursday, three military officers, one general, one lieutenant colonel and one captain were arrested at the opposition demo. They were for carrying fire arms, rounds of ammunition and hand grenades, as well as a computer drive with information on an alleged destabilisation plan. There were allegations that they were linked to a video which has been circulating calling for street disturbances once the results are known.

According to a report from Radio Cayaurima, republished in Aporrea, the governor of Sucre Ramón Martinez, was calling on his supporters to occupy and destroy the installations of the National Electoral Council in the state of Sucre. Martínez is a member of PODEMOS, until recently part of the government coalition but which has just joined the opposition and campaigned for a NO vote.

The national coordinator of the national auto-workers union, Christian Pereira, denounced the use of electoral propaganda by Carabobo regional newspaper Notitarde, in clear breach of electoral law. The paper published a front page headline that said “Today you decide and it will be a decision forever” and just below a picture of an empty butcher’s shop with a Cuban flag and a picture of Castro with the headline “this is how socialist Cuba looks today”. Pereira greeted Chavez´s announcement of harsh measures against any media outlets that participate in undemocratic conspiracies and added that private mass media should be expropriated and put at the service of the workers and the people.

Germán Yepez, one of the members of the National Electoral Council, said that the referendum had been monitored by more than 100 international observers, 2000 national observers and 3000 members of the national and international media, making this one of the most closely scrutinised electoral contests anywhere in the world.

We just heard retired general Baduel, a supporter of the NO vote, ask the National Electoral Council to meet with supporters of both side before announcing the result. This would be completely undemocratic and is just another way of casting doubt about the legitimacy of the results.

Jorge Martín

rally outside Bolivar Hall in London

Despite the cold and windy weather, about 50 people gathered outside Bolivar Hall in London in support of the Bolivarian revolution and in opposition to any attempts to organise a coup or sabotage the constitutional reform referendum in Venezuela. The lively rally has been called by Hands off Venezuela.


I just got back from the rally. Red balloons, caps and t-shirts abounded. A great turn-out in support of the revolution. Unprovoked, about 3 opposition folks had a word or two for the Chavista crowd – one, a well dressed older woman, was particularly hysterical and aggressively shouted at us saying that if we loved what was happening in Venezuela so much, we should move there! Ok! If she foots the bill! Another, slightly more calm, said we shouldn’t meddle in their affairs and shouldn’t wear red caps and t-shirts from Venezuela if we weren’t Venezuelan. Hmmmm…not the greatest reasoning! I remain unconvinced! As usual, they are never coherent, they never base their arguments on facts but the opposition just show their venom against revolutionary democracy.

Big babies!

Patria o muerte!