Eyewitness report from Caracas march – the people has spoken

“It is only Friday evening and the results of Sunday’s referendum are already known. There has been no formal vote in a bourgeois sense and neither has the resut been fiddled, although there is no doubt that the media in the UK, along with the media internationally, will say after the result that there has been a fiddle.

Here the people have spoken in the language of the street. From 10 in the morning they began to fill the Avenida Bolivar and the side streets. And they kept on coming into the afternoon and were still arriving when Chavez was driven down the Avenida on the back of a truck. Even as he was arriving there were people leaving and others replacing them. The Avenida was packed tightly, as were the side streets. I walked the distance from the underpass bridge next to the Hotel Anauco right the way down to the end of the Avenue where the platform had been erected for the speeches. It took me an hour, so densely packed were the numbers of people.

Not people on their own, whole families. It was a carnival to celebrate victory in the referendum. Stands selling food, drinks, caps, Tshirts, posters, badges, scarves, all manner of things to celebrate Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution. The smell of sizzling meat drifted over the crowd and empty beer cans were crushed under foot. The atmosphere was one of everyone having a great day out in the sunshine, and wasn’t it hot.
Large platforms were interspersed at distances so that the music from one did not interfere with the other. People listened, clapped, danced and enjoyed themselves.
Compare this to the opposition march yesterday. There the air was filled with hate, with gestures and shouts to get the onlookers like myself to join in – and very few did. Yes, they had quite a good turnout, but today was at least twice as big. It wasn’t so much a sea of red. The whole avenue and side streets looked as if they had been painted red! There were masses.

The size of this demonstration, no it was more of an open air assembly, was a joy to see. The Chavista forces did not march from anywhere to the Avenida. They just turned up as if they already knew that they had nothing to prove. They did not have to march the streets to declare that they were there. They just arrived and assembled ready for a Sunday, rest day out, except that this was a Friday, a working day, but no-one cared. They saw it as their right and duty to come and support Chavez.

So what will be the effect of this turnout? The opposition will obviously be dismayed. They will realise that despite all of the lies and smears that they have peddled, the support for Chavez has held up. So expect from them either activities to disrupt the vote on Sunday (the CIA are advocating that opposition supporters turn up to vote and do not leave the venue of the vote, thereby effectively staging a sit in and preventing others from entering and voting) or mei smears to start before the vote and go on aterwards that the results are suspicious and questionable, if not fiddled.

For the Chavista forces there is a danger. The celebrations might make them think that they have won already and that therefore there is no need to vote. Abstention is a big fear. So the push now must be for a massive vote on Sunday, a massive turnout so that the result is in no doubt and Chavez has a real mandate for the constitutional changes.

When Chavez arrived the assembled throng went wild in their cheering. He embodies all of the improvements that they have seen in their daily lives over the past nine years. When he spoke, he made sure that all understood the gravity of the situation. The CIA Operacion Tenazas (Operation Pliers) has been taken very seriously here. Measures are being taken to prevent the vote being disrupted. Tomorrow all the oil fields will be taken over by the Armed Forces, they will be militarised. The Navy and Air Force have been put on high alert to patrol the coast to watch for any signs of an impending invasion. The USA has been warned that any threatening behaviour on their part will result in the immediate suspension of all oil shipments to the USA.

The chips are down nationally and internationally. Let us see the developments tomorrow, the day before the referendum. What reports will emerge and what internal and external threats against Chavez will be made.”

Darrall Cozens
Caracas
30 NOvember 2007

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