Sunday, February 09, 2003

Saturday 8, February 2003

After a week of threats, menace, propaganda, assaults, the only thing that Chavez got was yet another march and rally, bigger, better, nicer, and feel good to boot!

The motive? A show of support for the striking oil industry (PDVSA). As the general strike and lock out fade some, the oil strike looks pretty much left holding the hat. The opposition felt that they should be aware that the country was behind them and with nearly 9000 guys fired out of a somewhat less than 40 000 work force, something had to be done. Therefore, as a big ego boost the 2.7 million signatures collected in supports of PDVSA were presented to the members of the negotiation table, in front of the PDVSA fired management, on the stage at the end of the march. Incidentally, 2.7 million signatures mean that at least 25% of the electorate bothered to sign up in a single week. Try that at home...

The set up was the same as Friday 31/01 for the march to show support for the media under siege. The attendance was ad big, if not bigger. The emotion as high or higher. The sea of flags seems to get denser as the marches multiply, with bigger and bigger flags carried by the indefatigable people. This time the cameras were in better positions than last Friday and although I am back in San Felipe and unable to march this time, I felt all the stirrings of emotion that come with these big events. I could watch through the afternoon the constant coverage of Globovision (our CNN like network under Chavez investigation and direct threat, and you wonder why). Thus, I could see the different starting points, the slow but constant increase in attendance, the different marches as they made their way to the rallying point and the half a million or plus crowd that gathered occupying the 8 lanes two levels central highway of Caracas. It was beautiful and stirring, so much so that when they played the national anthem I stood up in my living room, close to tears. I am proud of my people!

Then the signatures were carried on stage by a human chain and piled up in white boxes for all to see, in front of the opposition delegates. Speeches and songs alternated, and the rally is just ending up now with what has become a weird element: the singing by a local tenor of the “Nessun dorma” aria from Puccini’s Turandot. I am not too sure how this guy has managed to make a career of this, but I suspect the thrilling finale of “Vincero, vincero” has something to do with the selection. “Vincero” I shall prevail (or triumph). I suspect that now I am not one of the few that are able to sing along.

It is dark now, and people have been in front for already 4 hours but they are remaining, waving their flags as if there were no tomorrow. The reflected lights on the flags are beautiful, the atmosphere surreal. Another national anthem sung, another tightness in our hearts and we can go back home.

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