Sunday, December 02, 2007

The election day post: the doomsday vote

1:30

Chavez sheepishly trying to explain the delay, trying to pretend that he delayed the result because he wanted to be sure, least we had a scenario Florida like.

As I had a good friend saying: there are things that are better to listen to than to be deaf....

Meanwhile, the sheepish Chavez we saw in 2002, on April 13 at night and within a few hours the real creature was already surfacing again. Oh well, let's enjoy that victory no matter how narrow it is. At least we are going to avoid immediate troubles and perhaps even a relaxed Christmas for a change. Real problems come next year. The inflation for November was 4.4%. What are the prospects for next year? They are rough......

1:20 AM

Fireworks in San Felipe. Chavez on cadena!!!

1:17

Tibisay Lucena head of the CNE has announced that the NO has won!!!!! Less than 2% margin!!!

1:04

Trouble at the CNE, including insults and fist fights as the CNE personnel refused to let the NO witness to attend what they are supposed to attend. Or some other situation. CNN passed it live so the whole world can see what a primitive country we are.

If Chavez decides to refuse to recognize the results and makes a coup, his total and swift end will be staggering. He better accept the results and try to find a way to get back the initiative after a few months to let the memory of the defeat subside some.

Globovision says that CNE is abotu to emit its first bulletin.


12:59

Juan Forero of the Washington Post had also to meet his deadline for press time.

12:51

The New York Times is already out. Simon Romero writes a very complete and accurate article on what was voting day in Caracas. Of course, he could not wait for the result as press time is a demanding mistress.

12:32

A soft rain has started in San Felipe. Why does it always seem to rain on election night in San Felipe?

According to Capriles from the NO head quarters, the last table closed at around 10 PM. The CNE delays are thus simply unjustifiable. All the money the state invested in automatic balloting and we get our results later than countries still using pen an paper......

12:15

While we wait. November was my best month ever in unique hits. And Sunday, still counting because my server is in a different time zone, is already my biggest day ever. The world is watching, even modest local blogs. And I am not talking abotu the return visitor today.... Thank to all the people that think this blog important enough to deserve a visit in times of angst.

PS: and now comes Instapundit.

12:01 AM, Monday 3 December

Source informs me that the NO won by 5.4% (I predicted 5 %).

23:55

This has got to be a first, carrying over two days a post...

Nothing new yet. there is an intense militarization at the CNE. What are they afraid of? Or is it a coup already under way to refuse to recognize the NO victory.

I have decided to hit the bottle. Wine, that is. There is some rosé left from the other night and at thsi point I need all the help I can get. Rosé works better than coffee.

An interesting note. I recognize that I have not bothered to seek the Yaracuy results. However I can tell you that the streets are deadly quiet. Nobody from either side is celebrating, except for an occasional bang! This probably also means that the Yaracuy results were close too.

21:59

Still nothing official. But my SMS box is full of junk. Meanwhile the NO headquarters are loudly implying their victory. It does seem that the NO won but the CNE and the government are figuring out how to present it. One thing is certain: if the SI had won convincingly, AND honestly, we would already know. One thing we can thus advance in all certitude: if the SI won, it is by the narrowest of margins.

The delay of the CNE is simply scandalous at this point!

21:05

1) Serious source tells me Chavez canceled his press conference.

2)Jorge Rodriguez on TV, with bags under eyes dropping to his knees, calling to all to keep the piece and recognizing that the election is close!!!!

20:53

This blog owner being very conservative in his predictions will not dare to emit his own opinion until he is pretty sure. However he has no problem passing along more adventurous blogs that sound strangely up to date and also who give regional results. I love regional results (sorry, Spanish). Hat tip Moses.


20:46

In the weird news series, Miguel tells us that the government has withdrawn its celebratory advertisement scheduled for tomorrow's newspapers.

20:35

The more I think about it the weirder that press conference that Chavez called for. I mean, in the past he could not care less, went to his "balcon del pueblo" and started a peroration for hours in front of his adoring crowd. What is different this time?

20:24

Baduel just spoke and implied that they are getting ready to do an announcement that the government will not like.

The mess is growing.

20:10

My NO contact (a serious one, I can assure the readers that) wrote me to let me know me that the NO won but the government will announce a SI victory. Chavez has announced that he will call for a press conference for right after the CNE result. The NO camp denounces the Reuters brief which cites only government sources as their basis for the SI victory.

It is quickly becoming a mess.

However there is one thing we can be absolutely sure, all the leaks that went to Reuters will not be investigated and even less punished by the CNE tomorrow, you can be assured to that.

19:01

The wait continues. Obscure and not so obscure web sites publish chavista pollsters exit polls. They predict the same results that Rangel gave a month ago. 53% for the SI. Amazingly some "serious" news agencies that should know better are reporting it. Ah! that love of the scoop at any price.

Unfortunately I have also received some information that would indicate that the SI won. My NO contact has not given me any sign of life to deny them. Maybe the SI indeed won by 53%. Cheating? Not cheating? We will see, but even if the SI won with 53% it is a 10% drop for Chavez and a bitter victory. Though that will certainly not stop him from exacting revenge on us for not acclaiming him. A psychotic narcissistic is a psychotic narcissistic, you cannot help that.

As I have written again and again, read several of my posts in the last dozen, THERE IS NO GOOD RESULT. A SI result will only lead to violence. A NO result will lead to repression and violence. The NO will not, cannot accept that their liberties will be reduced, no matter by how many votes the SI wins (read my preceding post).

17:52

How Miguel voted. Visiting the Venezuelan electoral system in pictures.

17:28

My Mom calls me to let me know the results of her table vote in El Cafetal. No surprise there except that abstention low (29%) and Chavez gets his lowest result ever in that center: 8.9%. Usually he gets at least a 10%....

Myself will not be attending ballot counting this time as I need to keep at hand for the news. Besides I am due an article about the result somewhere else.

17:00

While I get ready for the long and excruciating wait for the results I started looking at the people who are following this election. And I am in shock at how many blogs have something on it, and how many have Venezuela News in their list of must rad links! So, as a gesture of gracious acknowledgement I am reporting them here below.

First, from the conservative site many of the biggies are in tune.

Michelle Malkin has several posts, including a link to a purple finger from "The End of Venezuela as we know it". Apparently in the US they are a little surprise that we still need to tattoo people after they vote (the ink will last from 1 to 3 days). And Venezuela News and Views gets a special mention. And as thorough as she is, she also lists the polls compiled by Quico.

Powerline is another blog getting interested in Venezuela. Heck, I will quote to pat my own back: I'll be following the vote on Venezuela News and Views. And also this quote from Hot Air: The blog to watch on this election is Venezuela News and Views.

There are other blogs that have been following this mess and who have frequently visited, Maggie's Farm and Gateway Pundit. I must say that Gateway has been one of the most relentless Chavez critics.

And there is of course Babalu who has several notes over the past few days. Cubans have the clearest understanding of what is going on. And as usual Val will always find an interesting thing to say to put things in real perspective: Will Venezuelans find a future with freedoms in their own country, or will my wife be selling them real estate in Miami in the months to come?

But if you think that Liberals do not care, think again. Michael J.W. Stickings is also concerned about Venezuela and joins the growing the list of liberal to left blogs such as Harry's place that are done with Chavez bluster. I am not alone.

Added later: other pages reporting, as I detect them or people send them to me. Western Hemisphere Policy. Fausta who has been following Venezuela as closely as one could wish for. Jonn with bated breath. Global Voices on Line also chimes in. And Kate worries from Colombia. We got Pals at Pa2Pal.


16:46

Surprise! The CNE is ordering all centers to close except for those with a line of people outside!!!! Only 46 minutes late. I suppose that it is a progress.

16:42

There is no one in line in the voting place in my street and yet it remains open when it should have closed 42 minutes ago. In fact, the CNE is only about to make an appearance in front of the camera. I bet you they are going to extend voting hours even if most of the country has voted. That is why people cannot trust the CNE, changing rules as they go.


14:32

Nice lunch and now for a short Sunday nap.n Yes, that is right, things are so eerily quiet that I figured out a half an hour nap could not possibly hurt me, even more so if I need to wait until 2 AM for the final result.

The only news so far:

1) Chavez announced that any result should be respected AND he only spoke for a few minutes instead of his usual vote peroration whenever he casts a ballot. This is so telling, a Chavez nearly speechless....

2) The dissident students have announced that they will go and vote after 2PM. And are urging anyone to go to vote, saying that they cannot defend the vote if there are no votes to defend. Let0s see if that creates a late afternoon surge! Ricardo Sanchez claims that 27000 students will be monitoring polling stations.

Back in an hour or so unless a phone call wakes me up.


12:43

Back from voting. It was a breeze. But it was also a mystery: my table had no line whatsoever but all the other tables had at least a couple of dozen people waiting and more outside as people were allowed in only as their voting table cleared up some. I was allowed to walk right in.

I did drive around some, visiting about a dozen voting centers, including two in very chavista areas. No lines anywhere. No way to judge abstention so far. My voting book had only two signatures when I voted, I was the third one to sign. This time it had only 10 names per page (I think). I sort of hung around trying to glance at other pages and none had more than 2 to 4 lines filled up. Thus there are plenty of people to vote as obviously more than half the people have not moved there. And I vote in one of the most anti Chavez district of San Felipe.

11:12

Nothing much really. I am leaving late to vote because I watched a round up of the news and all seem to be talking abotu Venezuela. Spain showed the Canary Islands voting stations, perhaps the biggest Venezuelan community in Europe. Also the Spaniards are the only one saying that the NO should win. The others seem to be buying Consultores 30.11 as valid as Consultores 21 and say it is too close to call. Curiously, one could agree with both of them at the same time....

Off to vote now. See you later.

9:22

Looking through the window I finally observe something that was bugging me some: they have barred my street!!! That is, no vehicles are allowed to drive in front of the voting center, and even less to park!!! That is, after I come back from voting I will have to talk to someone to let me go back home!!!

This is weird, even on the Recall Election vote where the line of people went all around the block for hours, traffic was never interrupted. but there is an explanation: as I was scrutinizing the scene I finally realize that it is not the army which is manning the voting center this time, but the "Reserva"! That is, the 99.99% pro Chavez militia! I suppose that they are barring the street to make sure that no US marine comes around to stuff the ballot boxes.... If this is a glimpse of what the Reserva will bring us, woe is us!


8:57 AM

This time I am really in no mood to cover the election (see previous post if you do not get it yet). In fact acute readers might have even noticed that I have not discussed much about the "day after" except to say that whatever result comes out today it is not good news for the country. The results can vary from bad to ugly, but no scenario is truly good for the sort term. Only a 10 points victory of the NO may become good for the long term. However for those who are already fretting on the what if, I recommend that you read the latest Pedro 14 point list of things you must keep in mind when you wonder about what Chavez might or might not do. In particular number 2, the key of it all, and the one that I am allowing to lift from his page:
By now you should all be aware that Hugo Chavez is not a crafty politician but an amoral, mid level military officer devoid of the requisite tools to confront the gargantuan political crisis he unleashed on 26 million Venezuelans. To him there are two options: glorious victory or humiliating defeat. There is no grey in this paint palette and to negotiate is to lose. Keep this top of mind at all times.
Needless to say that I am in 99% agreement with Pedro´s post, and 100% on that one.

But since I have done it for every election since I opened the blog and that I have received notes of people looking forward it, well, here I am with my first bulletin.

I was awakened at 4 AM by some scandal in the street, an army truck bringing some material to the voting station in front. Not the faintest attempt at discretion.

And then at around 4:30-5 PM a truck with loud speakers started circulating around with "La diana", which is the army trumpet wake up call used by chavismo to rouse its voters. Now, what is curious is that it is really the first time I heard it with such insistence. I mean, the school in front of me tends to vote 2 to 1 against Chavez, and perturbing the slumber of the folks is not going to gain chavismo any vote. That sound tends to be used in the barrios to wake people so that they all go early in packs to vote, not only for security reasons but also to be herded by chavismo political agents, least one of them strays. so why that truck going back and forth and making no sound sleep possible until around 6 AM? Provocation? A demonstration of the nervousness of chavismo?

The bad news if you ask me is that I was not awakened by the voters starting to vote. That is, from past narratives readers might remember that at 6 AM there is usually a line formed in front before the polls open and the chatter of people always wakes up the neighborhood. Nothing this morning. No lines at all, a few people walk in on occasion and leave fast!!!! Either abstention is going to be large or the CNE has gotten so efficient that voting is now a breeze....

As I type I am finishing my breakfast and will get ready to vote and drive around different voting centers with camera at hand. Updates will come as needed and will be ON TOP of this post.

-The end-

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