Saturday, February 14, 2004

Post march analysis

I did find a better picture in El Universal site, taken by the EFE news agency so supposedly more "objective". I suppose that eventually El Universal will have its own photo gallery tonight or tomorrow. That Venezuelan flag seems to have been dreamed for colorful marches.

Numbers also appeared. Preliminary estimates by Grupo Cronica who has made a business out of counting people in the street give a quarter million at least. At least, because the structure of the march did not allow for a good estimate. Indeed, it was purely a series of marches, and no rally at the end. When arriving at the Botanical Garden people would either collect a copy of their signature, or just go back home. Many apparently joined the marches at diverse points just to go and collect so there was not the "structure" seen in other instances. Not to mention that it was a rather unusually early march on Valentine's day so probably many were in a hurry. All of this makes a lot of sense for me and sort of matches my own guess of perhaps up to half a million.

What was perhaps more interesting is the detailed count of what could be estimated. The march that was filmed insistently by the State TV was the one coming from Plaza Madariaga in El Paraiso, the least anti Chavez area of the 6 starting points: barely 12 thousand. For the record from Parque del Este a much more anti Chavez area 88 thousand hit the ground. Yet, as I observed in a previous post today it still was more people than on Avenida Bolivar, at least for an observer with a critical eye. The counting guys did try to evaluate the attendance in Avenida Bolivar. For obvious reason, difficult access and military presence not to mention that those that got some cheap produce were in a hurry to go back home and store it, the Grupo Cronica gives only 4 thousand presence at any given time. And perhaps 500 National Guard that could be seen. 10% National Guards...

It is of course not fair to compare a popular market "megamercado" with a highly motivated political march but after all it is the very own chavismo that tries desperately to diminish opposition numbers by any technical tricks, video or or CNE wise.

I think the turnout considering the fatigue, the date and other factors is not bad at all. At least the CNE knows that if and when they trash the signatures there will be more than 250 thousand folks determined and ready to march to the CNE to demand repair. This seems to have made a little effect on the CNE by the way. The gentility of earlier days seem to be fading as the two opposition rectors are less and less inclined to accept the incessant popping of new delaying tricks and tactics. The two pro Chavez rectors, joined by the cryptic pro Chavez president Carrasquero are bent on finding some more respectability to try to annul the Recall Election. Their latest trick announced earlier today is that they would "study" increasing the numbers of observers to the process of signature verification. In December they were almost adamantly opposed to let the Carter Center and the OAS enter the CNE verification areas!!!! Why that change of heart? Very simple: by putting in more "favorable" observers they would hope to cancel the Carter Center and OAS objectivity. In their naivete, or bad faith, they think that the opinion of some partial observers could count as much as the Carter Center, a veteran of tough processes such as Nicaragua and Peru, to name particularly difficult times that the Carter Center has weathered.

I have a feeling that we are not off the streets yet.

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