the voters wait patiently

queues.jpgHave just returned from a two-hour mini tour, from 10am to 12am, of the voting stations in the local area. In most of the stations there are no queues, but in two of them the queues were quite large. Outside the Escuela Francisco Pementel in the barrio of Quinta Crespo, Calle Santa Teresa, the queue was 250 metres long stretching around the corner into another street on the corner of Dolores. I was told that in this area the electoral roll is 10, 000 whilst in those without queues the roll is as low as 2,000.

In another station at the Instituto Nacional de Nutricion in the Calle San Juan about 80 peple were waiting patiently in the almost midday sun to go and cast their vote.
All so far in this area is peaceful and there have been appeals on TV from even the opposition for a referendum without violence.

The BBC is predicting a close result with it being too close to call. When you try to send a comment about the BBC reporting of the events in Venezuela, they reserve the right not to print comments which they consider to be unfair and inaccurate. Yet their reporting has been biased in the extreme. They reported the opposition march on Thursday as having hundreds of thousands whilst the official opposition spokesman put the number at 160,000. The Chavista march on the Friday was reported by the BBC as having tens of thousands when all the evidence, even that of aerial photography, showas a massive crowd of 900,000 to a million.

Even worse when they select words like socialism from the Bolivarian project, they put the words in inverted comments as a way of denigrating thequeues2.jpg content. Their own correspondent here on BBC global in Spanish began his report by saying that both parties were neck and neck. A massive campaign against the BBC bias in reporting events here would be something for HoV to undertake.

We read the situation here diffrently. We still estimate that the vote will be nearer 60% to 40% in Chavez’s favour. From the queues I have seen it should be a good turnout. Hwever only the result will show who is correct.

I now move on to the Barrio 23 de enero area to try and get some more information from further away.
Darrall Cozens
Caracas

Denis MacShane against Chávez … again

Former British Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister Denis MachShane who when Chavez was kidnapped at gunpoint during the coup in 2002 published an article comparing the imprisoned president to Mussolini and describing him as a “ranting populist demagogue” has written another ranting attack on Chávez today in the New Statesman: Do we need another president for life? Please, read and reply.

Red tide picture gallery 2

Red tide in Caracas 2

by Francisco Rivero, Caraballeda PSUV spokesperson, Vargas

Venezuelan Ambassador in the UK warns of misinformation war which threatens

Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic, London. Speaking at a conference in London today, Saturday 1 December, at TUC congress house, the Venezuelan Ambassador to London, Samuel Moncada, raised concerns over misinformation surrounding Venezuela’s constitutional referendum which takes place tomorow.

Addresssing a packed hall, the Ambassador said the constitutional elections taking place the next day were “of extreme importance for Venezuelans”. however, he raised strong concern that media coverage in Britain and internationally was giving a false impression of the content of the constitutional proposals and how the election campaign and its outcome is unfolding. He said that here, it was “difficult to see through this inofrmation blockade which is taking place”.

He said “there is a global information war against Venezuela.” Giving examples he said “there have been false assertions that this is about Chavez becoming a dictator and there is no mention of the constitutional clauses which guarantee state funding to opposition political parties.”

Another tactic, he said, was to misrepresent the polls and to create an impression that the result is `on a knife edge’, and pointed to the widespread media promotion of private polls, falsely predicting a defeat for the referendum proposals. One widely promoted poll is Datanalysis, which has long-standing connections to the oppositon and its Chair is strong opponent of Chavez.

Some reports have spoken of `Venezuela being at a turning point’, he said and how Venezuelans have `one last chance to save their democracy’. This was coupled with further false claims, such as `unconfirmed rumours’ that the government would ask the supreme court to delay the election and which claimed riots generated by food shortages, creating an impression of a social breakdown.

Such reports, he said, had failed to mention that Venezuela `has had the largest period of economic growth in 60 years, and that the UN has reported the biggest falls in poverty in Latin America’.

He warned that an operation was already being orchestrated to call into question the result, including the US state department who have already said they doubt the elections will be free and fair.

Despite all these claims against Chavez and what is being proposed, he reiterated the democratic nature of the process, and how it will be `the people who will decide’. On Chavez, he said `this is the person who has had 14 elections in the past 9 years.

He concluded that the spreading of false information about Venezuela was a deliberate tactic to undermine the democratic right of the people to self-determination. He urged People in Britian to `keep defending the rights of the people of Latin American to rule our own affairs free from outside interference.

Referendum day – the summoning of the faithfull

It is 4.30am on this Sunday morning, the day of the Referendum, and I feel groggy after only 4 hours sleep. I need more but it is impossible due to the noise outside in the street. The rockets and loud bangs of the fireworks have been going on intermittently all night but at 4.15am the concert started.

In the square below the flat a convoy of cars appeared and from one of them came the sound of a cavalry charge. And as the sound of the trumpet rang out repeatedly, a cacophony of fireworks and thunderflashes lit up the sky. I felt as if I was being besieged. And I was.

On the one hand I wanted to go down and say to the car and van drivers, “Look here, lads. Would you mind buggering off so that I can get some sleep?” On the other hand, you have to marvel at the level of enthusiasm and organisation of the Chavez supporters.

The polling stations do not open until 7am but here they are calling the faithful, the Chavez voters, to rise at 4.30am to lay siege to the polling stations so that they can get in and vote and at the same time put on a show of strength. This was a sign to the opposition saying we are here, we are not gong to go away, we are the real majority. As the cry on Friday at the mass rally was, “Somos mayoria. Somos alegria.” Not exactly a ringing political slogan, but an expression of certainty that despite all the possible scenarios, the Chavista forces were going to win.

The convoy of cars is now circulating around the narrow streets of this inner city area, around the Plaza de la Concordia where I am staying, with the same cavalry charge blaring out. The last time I heard such a sound was in old John Ford movies as the cavalry came to the rescue of a party that had been besieged by native Americans trying to protect their land from the invasion of the white man. That is not as it was portrayed in Ford movies. Then it was the brave peaceful and intrepid whites being attacked by bloodthirsty hostile Indians smeared in war paint.

Times have changed and the reality of the bloody extermination of native Americans is now more widely known. But these images from films of long ago keep echoing in my mind as the cavalry charge goes on outside. I wonder if the opposition feels the same, besieged?

Now we have a role reversal. Until Chavez was voted into power, a vote that has been endorsed eleven times since 1998, the ruling class had mostly been associated with the lighter skinned wealthy oligarchy, the bourgeoisie.  The Chavez supporters came in the main from the darker skinned barrio dwellers whose shanty towns encircle the city of Caracas. Outside we now have the cavalry charge coming from those who in the past had been denied access to wealth, power and participation in the political process. The ones who are besieged are the old elite that is still clinging on to power as it still controls the large companies, the land and the banking system.

The trumpet charge is a warning to them that their days are numbered. And their days have to be numbered. The economic power that they have has to be taken away if the reforms of the Bolivarian revolution are to last for any length of time. As long as the ruling class still has its hands on the levers of power, they will alwys have the chance to srike at the right time to stage a counter revolution.

But it goes further than that. The solution to the problem of food and housing shortages, to name just two, can only be solved by democratically planned development. Yet the resources needed  are in the hands of a bourgeoisie that is trying  to sabotage the revolution. As the old saying goes, you cannot plan what you don’t control and you cannot control what you do not own. Until these major economic assets of Venezuela, the large multinationals, the agroindustrial monopolies, the banking and financial system, the land and so on are taken into public ownership through nationalisation and then democratically planned through a system of councils, which the new constitutional changes call into being, the needs of the vast majority of Venezuelans, the workers, peasants and the marginalised, will never be solved.

It is now 5.30am and the cacophony is still going on outside. But now the dogs have joined in too. Oh, for some sleep before I rise to take photos of the queues outside the polling stations.

Darrall Cozens
Caracas
Venezuela

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
Caracas
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.

The U.S. Media and Government Launch an All-Out Campaign Against the Venezuelan Revolution

As the forces of revolution and counter-revolution collide once again in the country of Bolivar, the U.S. government and its servants in the mainstream media have launched yet another a blitzkrieg propaganda offensive against the Venezuelan people’s right to determine their own destiny.

This is no conspiracy. A detailed CIA plot called “Operation Pincers”, which aims to destabilize the country in the days around the vote on the proposed changes to the Constitution, has been exposed. A major component of this plan is to create an atmosphere of distrust, uncertainty, and confusion, with the Venezuelan and international media playing their usual pernicious role. The goal is to prepare public sentiment for possible U.S. intervention to “restore order”. It’s an old but all too effective tactic.

The media mouthpieces of the U.S. ruling class are foaming at the mouth in an all out effort to throw mud on the Venezuelan revolution. With misleading headlines implying that all that is at stake is the elimination of presidential term limits – never mind that the president would still need to be re-elected for each of those terms – they seek to disorient even those who have until now sympathized with the revolution and opposed U.S. intervention. The real stakes are far higher. The Venezuelan masses understand the vote as a referendum on their current and future quality of life, while the oligarchy and their imperialist masters understand it as a threat to their centuries of privilege and domination of the majority.

For example, the New York Times has played up Thursday’s opposition rally, while minimizing yesterday’s pro-Chavez rally, which dwarfed the former, and was perhaps as much as five times larger. They have also focused on corruption and scarcity of basic goods in Venezuela, blaming these things on Chavez. But the fact is, this is largely the product of counter-revolutionary sabotage, and many of the proposed changes to the Constitution are intended to address this. However, it should come as no surprise that the NYT takes this superficial approach. Let us not forget that the NYT was an early and avid supporter of the April 2002 coup against Chavez. On April 13, 2002 they “reported” the following:

With yesterday’s resignation of President Hugo Chávez, Venezuelan democracy is no longer threatened by a would-be dictator. Mr. Chávez, a ruinous demagogue, stepped down after the military intervened and handed power to a respected business leader, Pedro Carmona.”

As for the circumstances surrounding the coup, this is how they described it:

… Armed Chávez supporters fired on peaceful strikers, killing at least 14 and injuring hundreds. Mr. Chávez’s response was characteristic. He forced five private television stations off the air for showing pictures of the massacre. Early yesterday he was compelled to resign by military commanders unwilling to order their troops to fire on fellow Venezuelans to keep him in power. He is being held at a military base and may face charges in Thursday’s killings.”

A lie in every line!

  1. The snipers were anti-Chavez provocateurs;

  2. In what way was the response “characteristic”? No media was shut down – except for he pro-Chavez Channel 8 and Catia-TV – both shut down by the coup-mongers, not the government;

  3. Chavez did not resign, but was kidnapped by the pro-coup generals that had threatened to bomb the Presidential Palace and all those inside it if he did step down;

  4. Chavez was not even going to get a chance to stand “trial” for “crimes” he did not commit; at one point he was about to be executed, but the soldiers guarding him refused to do it; he was then about to be remanded to U.S. custody and flown out of the country, when pro-Chavez special forces turned up to rescue him and bring him back to the capital. This is the actual course of events, as documented in the film “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”.

Fortunately for the people of Venezuela and the world, the masses of Caracas and across the country refused to accept the New York Times‘ version, and came onto the streets by the millions to overthrow the coup-mongers and restore Chavez to power.

As for the Washington Post, it has opened its opinion pages to none other than Donald Rumsfeld, the disgraced former Secretary of Defense and “architect” of the Iraq quagmire. In an op-ed titled “The Smart Way to Beat Tyrants Like Chávez”, Rumsfeld churns out his venom, couched in high-sounding diplomatic Newspeak [and by the way, his piece is dated Sunday, December 2nd, the day of the referendum – today is Saturday, December 1st!]

In line after line of distortions and outright lies, Rumsfeld laments that “not enough” is being done to “prevent Venezuela’s once vibrant democracy from receding into dictatorship” [!]. Of course, the “vibrant democracy” he is referring to is the “good old days” of violent repression of social movements, capitalist cronyism, and billions in easy profits for U.S. oil companies and their Venezuelan lackeys while 80 percent of the population languished in squalor and misery. And the “dictatorship” he refers to is the political awakening and participation in the political process of millions of Venezuelan workers, peasants, youth, and urban poor. In Rumsfeld’s view, the “global order is threatened … by violent extremists, rogue regimes, failing states and aspiring despots such as Chávez.” Talk about the pot calling the kettle black! He even suggests using NATO as a force to “contain” undesirable elements around the world – i.e., anyone who does not follow the dictates of U.S. imperialism.

As for the U.S. government itself, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino had this to say at a press conference held yesterday (Friday, November 30, 2007): “We are concerned that people would not be able to have the free and fair elections that they deserve. I think there is good reason for them to be unhappy.” He then added, “[The decision] is up to the Venezuelans to make and we’ll see what they decide on Sunday.” This is quite ironic considering that at least $8 million in U.S. taxpayer money has been spent on anti-Chavez propaganda in the run up to the referendum, as detailed in the leaked memo to CIA headquarters! Not to mention the millions of dollars spent supporting anti-Chavez organizations in Venezuela and literally buying off many of his former supporters.

The bottom line is, the example of Venezuela’s revolution can no longer be tolerated by those who believe it is their divine right to exploit the vast majority of humanity. U.S. imperialism and its agents will never rest until the Venezuelan revolution is snuffed out. They will use every trick in the book – and then some – to ensure the example does not spread. After all, what would happen if the workers, youth, and poor of other countries – for example the United States – also got the crazy idea that society’s wealth should be used to provide universal health care, education, quality jobs, a reduced workweek, a full pension, to rebuild infrastructure, etc.? That neighborhood assemblies and factory councils should be organized to democratically manage the economy and the needs of our communities? That perhaps the banks should be used to develop the economy and improve everyone’s quality of life, instead of providing mega profits for the few? That perhaps we, the vast majority, don’t need a handful of parasites on our backs to effectively and democratically run society in the interests of all? This is the real reason for the hatred being spewed by the representatives of the ruling class against the Venezuelan revolution.

Tomorrow’s referendum will be another historic milestone in the Venezuelan revolutionary process. Workers and youth in the U.S. and worldwide must be on the alert in order to do their part to prevent U.S. intervention from derailing this process, which is a beacon of hope for the future of humanity. Let the Venezuelan People Decide! Hands Off Venezuela!

John Peterson
U.S. HOV National Secretary