Southern Exposure

Desde as Entranhas dos Labirintos Latinos.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Venezuela News this week

It was indeed the week before Christmas as everything slowed down, politics appeared not to matter as Venezuelans began celebrating the Christmas they did not enjoy a year ago due to the general strike. The Government and the opposition continued trading barbs, the Government accusing the opposition of massive fraud in the petition drive to recall Hugo Chavez, and the opposition refusing to hand in the signatures until the Electoral Council guaranteed that the rules for evaluatoong the signatures would not be changed after the signatures were handed in. On Tuesday the Electoral Council put an end to the threat, announcing by a unanimous vote that the rules would not be changed retroactively as had been suggested by some pro-Chavez lawyers. Thus, tomorrow, if safety and the Chavistas allow it, the 3.4 million plus signatures will be handed in to the Electoral body, giving it thirty days to verify and count whether the required 2.4 million valid signatures are there.

The only negative note before the holiday season was the sudden appearance of violence against reiligious icons. In less than two weeks there have been a number of visible as well as stealth attacks on images of the virgin and churches. Some icons have been desecrated in a twist that is very unusual for a country where most everyone was at least born a Catholic. The first attacks took place during a pro-Chavez march , which the Government tried to blame on the opposition. However, the pictures tell a different story as the Vice-President is seenencouraging the mob in their path of destruction. Other incidents have been ocurring at night, the Government blames the opposition, but the church blames the Government, calling it "irresponsible". Not a pretty affair, not a pretty picture.

Merry Christmas everyone!

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