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

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