Saturday, November 29, 2003

A last update for tonight
The Chavez recall election drive is going strong and some of his supporters are losing their nerves

Friday 28, 11 PM

Results keep pouring in and they are generally good. I have some friends that work at a collection table in El Junquito and apparently they have collected about 40% of what they were supposed to collect in 4 days. My parents still in Margarita report long lines, whereas last Monday the chavista signing booths were empty. My relatives from Lara say that things were going smoothly over there and better than expected. My friends and relatives in Caracas and Carabobo report the humongous lines that I saw earlier on TV. Unfortunately I have no contact in Zulia but TV was good there.

Tonight news reported the ugly incidents of the day. The one that worried me this morning was when Juan Fernandez, the head to the fired oil workers and a "presidentiable" dared to go and sign in the Carapita district of Caracas, pretty much the den of the lion. Of course a group of furious chavistas got wind and an ugly incident followed where among other things they tried to steal TV cables, threw objects, etc. Juan Fernandez held his ground although they had to run and take cover to preserve the forms already collected. Eventually the army restored some order and Fernandez did sign.

The other ugly incident was an act of plain stupidity by Eliecer Oteyza, a Chavez protege who was send to run for the Carabobo governorship next year. He is not liked at all, even among many chavistas as an imposition on the local leadership. Well, the guy decided to take authorities in his own hands and to "investigate" personally one of the signing tables at Prebo, a district of Valencia. He even brought along a few goons for protection, all big beefy guys wearing a red T-shirt that said in front "Battle of Carabobo" and on the back "I am chavista". Talk of provocation. Sure enough the people standing in line quickly rioted and the beefy guys in red t-shirts seemed quite pitiful protecting the ex stripper wanna-be governor, Chavez factotum. Almost risible if it were not so sad and so telling of the desperation of Chavez followers.

That is that for today. I have decided to go to Caracas tomorrow to check things first hand since there is no action to be expected in Yaracuy where Lapi ensures enough safety for people to sign up and where Chavez will be trounced. After all in 2000 Lapi got more votes than Chavez in Yaracuy and chavistas did not even dare to ask for a recall election on any of the pro-Lapi officials! After an AM update, my next news will be from Caracas starting at around 4 PM. I will stop for a while in Valencia on the way and check things there.

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