Friday, May 28, 2004

Salvaging the Recall Election in Venezuela
Fourth (and last for the day) report

The day ended up peacefully if wet. In particular in Yaracuy. The opposition Coordinadora Democratica seems rather happy. My "sources" think that 50% of the people that must go to repair their signature might have done so already today. If this is true, and discounting the numbers of people that go to withdraw their signature due to governmental pressure, the required signature number might already be in. But we still need to wait until at least Tuesday for "official" results.

The Kerry declaration keeps stirring the political pot. El Universal published an English summary:
U.S. presidential candidate John Kerry issued a communique stating that president Hugo Chavez "lost an opportunity to demonstrate the popular support he claims to enjoy," when the referendum process "presented a legitimate challenge to his leadership."

The Venezuelan president, instead, showed "a troubling disregard for the rule of law," said Kerry, who added that Chavez "must understand that the international community will be watching closely" the process to ratify the signatures backing the presidential recall referendum.

"After being democratically elected and promising reform, president Chavez has treated opponents as enemies rather than seeking to heal the divisions that have plagued Venezuela. He has undermined the constitution and used his Bolivarian Circles to repress peaceful dissent as his government systematically moved to expand its powers," the document says.

Kerry also expressed his concern for the recent reports on violation of human rights in the country. "Over the past weeks, president Chavez has used questionable pretexts to justify further arming of militias and intimidation of the press and the referendum's supporters."

"The disturbing trend towards establishment of an authoritarian regime must be reversed now," Kerry added.

Meanwhile in Mexico for an European Latino American summit Chavez is not having too much of a good time. The president of the main campus of Guadalajara preferred to travel to Canada for a commencement instead of receiving Chavez. Well, at least it looked like that. But more damming, according to El Universal:
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva declined insistent invitations by his Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chavez to hold a private meeting during the Guadalajara Summit, reported on Friday Brazilian news agency Estado as quoted by DPA.

The agency said an "official Brazilian source" at the Third Latin American, Caribbean, and European Union Summit said that "there would be time for a hug, but not for a private meeting."

According to the source, the Brazilian government, leader of the Group of Friends of Venezuela, is aware of the "uneasy calm" the country is going through because of Chavez's efforts to bloc a recall vote on his mandate.

The Brazilian agency quoted other unidentified sources in Brasilia who said that Lula "is fed up with Chavez."

Looks like Chavez is having less and less friends.

Still, we can be satisfied for the day, in spite of near 300 "incidents" collected by the CD workers, mostly to "over zealous" military. Probably testing the grounds for further mischief? Other folks reproted to me that everywhere the military seemed nervous. Not that they are preparing a coup, mind you, but since February 27 the Army leaders seem to have been keen on isolating the troops. Or simply the troops reflect the mood of their officers that know that the time of reckoning is at hand.

Let's wait for tomorrow events and see.

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