Monday, April 19, 2004

Another day, another march

Monday 19, April 2004

Today is a holiday. Banks and state offices are closed in memory of the first "successful" revolt against Spanish authority in South America, April 19, 1810. This sort of gives Venezuela the lead in emancipation movements across South America although the first official declaration of independence is owned by Buenos Aires, and Argentina. All these things probably depended more on how close from Spain these countries laid, Venezuela and Argentina being the first land reached by the news from Europe.

The opposition decided to call for a march, rather at the last minute. The idea had some merit. As the recall election is on its last agonizing throes, it was a good idea to remind folks that April 19 was the first "recall election" of our history even though nobody knew what a referendum was then. After all, the General Captain of Venezuela (governor equivalent) was foolish enough to ask from a balcony to a mob whether they wanted him in office. The result was rather predictable in the political effervescence of these days. Vicente Emparan took the next ship back to Spain and the Caracas cabildo (municipal council) was in charge of the city, and soon of the country.

But as the country is expecting the final death sentence for the Recall Election, it is quite clear for all that this one does not depend on a last minute march. It also does not help that the Coordinadora Democratica decided to take the route to Los Proceres, the Caracas Monumental avenue where in January 2003 a few marchers were shot. The government is doggedly decided not to let the opposition walk on military grounds, even more today when the military is the only real source of strength of the Chavez administration.

Still, if the turn out was weaker than usual the opposition started its march from Altamira all the way to Los Proceres. Just to be blocked by the National Guard as expected. Leaders of the march tried to negotiate the passage of a commission to deposit a floral offering at the foot of the monument honoring the heroes of the Independence wars. But they wanted to be at least accompanied by some media "for security reasons". The National Guard colonel in charge (not even a general!) would only have the state TV, VTV, come along. With this final humiliation the leaders of the march dropped their floral offerings at the foot of the National Guard line and called off the march.

This is all what the Coordinadora Democratica can come up with? No wonder the Recall Election is all but dead.

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