Sunday, November 30, 2003

Finishing the third day

Sunday 30, 11:55 PM

OK, so I did not post at 5 PM and instead went out for movie and pizza. It is Sunday after all and I was not needed in the couple of offers to help I made. I suppose that my job is blogging 'til I drop! We all have our task. Some collect signatures, some let people overseas know what's cooking!

Collection of signatures went well. Of course it was slower than Friday and Saturday but that was to be expected. However the info I have is that we have crossed the 3.5 million mark. Also this morning at 9 it was confirmed that Saturday we had closed at 2.4 million.

What is more interesting is why it was slower today: many centers had run out of forms and a "trick" was uncovered. A recent decision from the Electoral Board said that ALL centers should have the SAME NUMBER OF FORMS. Sure enough the big anti Chavez areas run out of forms and people there have, if they want to sign, go to less friendlier areas. Many do but many are scared to do so, in particular these days when the government has increased its threats and vulgarity. The "trick" is that forms from one center cannot be transferred to another center!!!!! Score one for Chavez, but too little I am afraid.

During the day the government did go a little bit more aggressive, going as far as closing two nearby airports without a serious explanation. Plain intimidation, creation of an anguished opinion. The Carter Center and OAS quickly went there to ask what was going on and that was that. Score one for the opposition. But the border with Colombia remains closed. Supposedly Colombians were going to come to vote in Venezuela!!! When for the past two years the oppostion has been screaming that the administration was giving Venezuelan citizenship to a whole bunch of illigal aliens (for money? for votes? no serious inquiry was made but what else is new?)

Pettiness by the military continued. It seems that the administration is willing to do anything to avoid collecting 100 forms less here and there, as a placebo of sorts I imagine. So the Army keeps finding any excuse to slow down the process. The verdict is already in, anyway, and the only thing I can think of is that they do not want to allow a defeat to become a disaster.

Some funny accusations came up. Two favorites:

"It is illegal to carry people from a center without forms to another center with forms!"
Well, military trucks were seen carrying people last week to chavistas collection center. At least the opposition pays for the rented buses...

"They have more money than we do! They are buying signatures"
This is presumably a reference to the looting of the country before Chavez. That would be fine if one did not realize that all the oil money in Venezuela has become fast cash for Chavez since the strike last year, and even more, the governor of Lara, a Chavez crony, was videotaped giving bikes and stuff to people last week end... Please...

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