Sunday, October 31, 2004

Of the inconvenience of living in front of a polling station

I do happen to live in front of a school, and this is really becoming a pain in the neck. On week days it is OK to be waken up by kids at a quarter to 7 until all together sing the National anthem at 7 AM. After all, I must get up anyway to go to work. But on election days it is quite annoying to be awakened when it is still dark outside. But this particular election takes the cake.

It all started when LAST weekend the army already came to install the transmitting antenna. In August, the first time with these antennas (later found to be transmitting both ways during the polling process and thus accused to be one of the main tools of electoral fraud), they were installed about three days before the vote. Now, for the past week I have had to deal with soldiers guarding the school all night and playing the radio so as not to fall asleep. Thank the deity that they did not play it too loud and I could sleep by covering the noise with some "white" noise.

But I must confess one thing: having the army, even if young recruits that probably would have preferred to be anywhere else, was quite unnerving. I have become so anti-military under Chavez that any proximity to any army uniform might start giving me the hives anytime soon. And I suspect that I am not the only one in Venezuela...

This military presence gave us also a few fascinating images to remember. Schools remained open until Wednesday or Thursday for some. So we had the spectacle of seen young recruits, with huge assault rifles that reached almost to the ground for these young, short and skinny soldiers, mixing with all sorts of children running around. In the US people would have freaked out! Not to mention that these poor soldiers were lusting after the older girls, some of them not insensitive to the charms of the battle fatigues... Really...

But this morning was the last straw! The "revolutionary" web site Aporrea is certainly announcing the way things will be. A couple of weeks ago it was the tumbling of the Colombus statue. This week they had again over a big red background a "suggestion" to download "la diana" which is the military morning call. Note the note for voting against "los golpistas", the coup mongers, conveniently forgetting that their own leaders were the original real thing in 1992. But revolutionaries are not know for their subtlety.

Well, it seems that in San Felipe someone did it, and somewhere between 5 and 6 PM a truck blared the morning call in the San Felipe streets!!! After that there was a racket as the people of the polling station arrived and at 6 it opened and that was that for the night quiet.

At least I can see people voting. Less than in August but there has been a line since 6 AM. Local elections always have a lower turnout, so there is nothing outside of "normalcy". We'll see.

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