Sunday, December 04, 2005

Election Update #3 

This is all more anti climatic than I had expected. With the opposition forfieting rather than face certain defeat a large Chavez victory sure looks to be in the cards. So I do not know how much there will be to say today on the voting. So let me just say what I have seen this morning.

I am back in Caracas. I spent the night right off of the Baralt Avenue in the heart of western Caracas. At about 6 a.m. a whole bunch of fireworks went off to wake everyone up. Then they played a trumpet revelary basically calling everyone out to vote. I then took a taxi to El Valle which is the working class-poor section of Caracas where I am staying. There is a very heavy military and police presence in the streets. Lots of streets had been closed off and there were big army trucks with lots of heavily armed soldiers in the streets. There were also lots of police riding around on motorcycles. They are clearly prepared for any contingency.

I didn't see any actual voting centers until I got to El Valle. There I passed three. There were moderate lines of people voting - maybe 20 or 30 people out of each voting center. This was at 9.00 a.m. The polling centers themselves were very heavily guarded with at least half a dozen soldiers outside each one.

Apart from the police and army presence the city seems very calm and normal. People are out and about shopping and just engaging in normal Sunday morning activities. So, so far so good.

BTW, I have seen a lot of European Union observers. Outside one polling station there were about 10 of them, very identifiable with their jackets. Unfortunately I could not get any pictures as you are not allowed to take pictures of the polling stations.

Quite frankly, I think the main action is going to come Monday or Tuesday when Venezuela wakes up with a A.N. dominated by pro Chavez forces. Thats is probably when the opposition will try to play whatever cards it thinks it has - be it violence or trying to get the election discredited by the observers or other international players. I do not think it will work. It seems to me they are just completely liquidating themselves from the A.N. just as they liquidated themselves from the military in the coup and from PDVSA by virtue of their insane strike. In any event I am sure we will see.

UPDATE, Greg Wilpert has an excellent article on the election over at Venezuelanalisis that I urge that everyone read. I completely agree with his assessment that the opposition did not campeign before the vote because it never planned to participate. This boycott was planned all along. Well, so long lemmings.


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