Southern Exposure

Desde as Entranhas dos Labirintos Latinos.

Thursday, November 27, 2003

Venezuela this week: Only recalls matter

Recall elections were the only game in town last week and this week. Last week supporters of Hugo Chavez had their chance at recalling opposition Deputies to the National Assembly. The results were not very good fo Chavez' MVR, turnout was low, despite the huge resources spent by Chavez and his party to get the vote out. The initial reaction by Chavez and his Vice-President was to be conciliatory. Chavez went as far as saying that this was the time to build bridges between the two sides. But it did not last long. Chavez was once again on the offensive accusing TV stations of rejecting his party's ads. The problem was the ads were paid by the oil Company PDVSA in violation of both corruption and electoral laws, which made the stations reject them. In the end the official Chavez headquarters said that 2.7 million venezuelans actually signed the petition, which represents only 22.5% of registered voters and quite small when compared to the heydays of Chavez' popularity. Tomorrow is the "Reafirmazo" the signing of the petition to ask for a recall referendum for Chavez' mandate by the opposition. The opposition needs to gather 2.4 million signatures in the next four days. For the recall to be valid, 3.8 million Venezuelans will have to go out and vote in March 2004. Thus, this number becomes the benchmark by which the petition drive will be measured when the numbers are in in early January. The magic number is simply the same number of votes that Chavez got when he was elected in 2000. If the opposition gets a number anywhere near it (The signatures will be published, which might intimidate many from signing) the landscape of Venezuelan politics will have changed dramatically. And we know it, this is a crucial time...


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