Saturday, December 1st. Today is like the day after the night before.

The streets are quite quiet today yet people are fearing what could happen tomorrow and on Monday, the day after the referendum. There has been panic buying in the shops as people stock up on provisions. Powdered milk disappeared in a flash. Real milk has not been seen for months, yet you can easily find milk products such as cheese and yoghurt!

In his speech last night to close the Yes campaign, Chavez warned the right wing opposition that if they try to disrupt the vote, they will regret it. 300,000 soldiers and police have been mobilised to make sure that everyone who wants to vote can do so. It seems strange but Chavista forces and the opposition actually have one thing in common, they are all calling for a massive turnout tomorrow so that no-one is in any doubt as to the real balance of forces.

Chavez also said that if there was violence then given his military background he would pick up a rifle and would be prepared to fight to ensure a peaceful electoral process. He warned the opposition that they had failed to take into account the real feelings of the people of Venezuela when they launched the attempted coup in April 2002. If they tried the same again they will be dealt with.

The refineries and oil fields are under military control and one of the main oil workers unions has said that they will ensure that oil production is not disrupted. They have said that “the oil industry belongs to the people, not the oligarchy.”

Media conglomerates have been warned, especially those with TV and radio station outlets, that they will be put off the air if they try to manipulate the ballot by producing fake results before the ballot has closed. This refers to part of the CIA/USA plot to denigrate the ballot or by encouraging people not to bother to vote as the result is a foregone conclusion.

What is strange however is that in his speech last night Chavez referred to the fact that if there was any more trouble from Spain (You will remember that the king of Spain treated Chavez like a naughty school boy by telling him to shut up during a summit in Chile), then he would not hesitate to nationalise Spanish banks. Today there is not a word of that in the Venezuelan press.

The branches of the PSUV that can contain up to 300 members, the electoral battalions, have been mobilised to make sure that there is no trouble on the streets once the results are known. In the same vein, the Federation of Venezuelan Students has also mobilised its members to protect the universities where they are strong. One of the threats in Operation Pliers was to occupy key installations and prevent them from functioning.

All sides are promising to recognise the results of the referendum, but this is highly charged situation. Yesterday’s turnout for Chavez is reported to be the biggest that there has ever been. That would make the assembled throng about 900,000 to a million. In all liklihood Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution will win the referendum tomorrow by a 60% to 40% margin and the hope is that the turnout will be huge to legitimise the results. He will then have a mandate that even the bourgeois press in England will find hard to challenge.

Given that the reforms will mean a real assault on the power and privileges of the bourgeoisie, will they now realise that the balance of forces at this time is so much against them that they will retreat to lick their wounds for now and wait for a more opportune moment? Will they carry on with the sabotage in relation to the lack of provision for state controlled markets at fixed prices, so that shelves are bare?

Or will they use they the proto-fascist student forces to carry out hit and run tactics to destabilise the country? For example when I was coming back from a place outside Caracas, a place called Los Teques, where I had been to visit the factory of Inveval run under workers control, the motorway out of Caracas was cut by a small group of about 25 students aged about 14,15 and 16. They created traffic chaos and their numbers were small. Will the same tactics be used elsewhere and will weapons be used? The church hierarchy is going through a public confessional at the moment stating that is has nothing to do with organising or supporting opposition violence. yet witnesses have testified to going into churches and seeing arms being handed out to small groups.

Y ou can therefore imagine the heightened state of alert today although on the surface everything looks calm. Watch this space.

Darrall Cozens
2.25pm Caracas time.

PS. We wanted to go out and buy some alcohol to celebrate the victory tomorrow, but the dry law came into effect at 6am on Saturday morning and will last until Monday morning. So all the liquor stores are shut and the supermarkets cannot sell liquor, so it will be a “dry” celebration.


One Response

  1. Really good informative post. Tomorrow is the big day.

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