A lot of hand wringing is taking place in Venezuela, provoked by the onanistic desires of Chavez. The escalade has been swift, from the violence that we see now everyday to the tremendous pressure put by the government on the country, a vicious system worthy of the Tascon list maneuvers of 2004. Now that scare tactics seem to pay off for chavismo, rather than discussing the pro and cons or whether polls are getting it, I think it better to remind folks who vote for the SI what their vote means, in real life. Let me stress to those inclined to vote SI that they are not voting for removing term limits, they are voting to perpetuate a style of government and of making politics.
If you vote SI you approve of violence as a legitimate electoral tool. You approve that the party in power can accuse their democratic political opponents of traitors. You thus approve that violence is used against those who pretend to vote NO, and that this violence continues after the election.
If you vote SI you approve of blackmail as a legitimate tool of electioneering and thus as a legitimate tool of ruling after the election. If you vote SI you approve that all public workers can be dismissed strictly on political criteria, that all government business and contracting needs to fulfill first a political criteria for their approval.
If you vote SI then for you the extraordinary blatant use of public property by the sitting government to foster its political fortunes is acceptable. You thus approve of public money spent at every level for objectives that are not the direct improvement of all citizens lives. And thus you approve of the corruption that will follow the electoral victory of the government. You must understand that those who will win will see it perfectly natural to keep considering public funds as their war booty.
If you vote SI you approve that the National Assembly castrated itself to become a simple registry chamber for the executive power which will be now officially Chavez alone. You also approve that the High Court emitted all the necessary rulings to make what is an electoral and constitutional fraud a legalized fraud. You also approve that the electoral umpire can flaunt its partiality towards a sitting president.
If you vote SI you approve of the way Chavez runs electoral campaigns. Thus you give him a blank check so that in the future he can apply even worse pressure on his political opponent than he does today. That is, you are approving that he uses the power of the state, the power of tribunals, the power of institutions, the fire power of the Army to silence any opposition.
If you vote SI and the SI wins you are telling those who vote NO today that in the future they will be entitled to use the same violence against you if they want. But if you vote NO and the NO wins you will have put the first stone to rebuild a system where all of these abuses will be one day banished.
Now, you may have other reasons to vote SI, reasons that I hope are better than what is implied above. Or perhaps your only reason is that you are a beneficiary of a Mision or hold a precarious government job. However you must keep in mind that if the SI wins on February 15 those who will have voted NO will identify all of the SI voters as the people who approved that the government made them second class citizens. You will be identified as those who think that political repression is fair. You will be labeled as those who agreeed that the NO voters be forced to shut up if they want to be able to go along on their daily business.
If you voted SI, do not be surprised if one day chavismo goes knocking at your door to threaten you and there is no one of your NO voting neighbors there to defend you. Or even worse, they might be there but could not care less about what happens to you.
In other words, if you vote SI you are voting to divide once and for all Venezuela in two irreconcilable camps that will try to destroy each other sooner than later.
You are perfectly entitled to a SI vote but you need to understand that you will not be able to escape the consequences of your SI vote.