Sunday, November 30, 2003

A sunny third day for the recall election drive in Venezuela

Sunday 30, 9:10 AM

Gathering centers are reopening slowly and later than the previous days. Well, it is Sunday and folks are getting a little bit tired.

The big news is that many centers are not re-opening because they run out of their allotted amount of forms. That is, by Saturday 6 PM they had filled up even their Monday quota. Even a site in Avenida El Panteon, almost “Ground Zero” for chavistas, had run out of forms!!! This is a little bit like downtown San Francisco running out of forms to recall ex-governor Davis of California, just to give my US friends and idea.

The faces of the state TV spokespersons are an epic poem. At least at VTV they seem to have recovered a little bit from the shock of the last two days and are into some form of misinformation campaign. Over with what little objectivity they might have had the previous days! At 7:30 ish AM they were reporting from La Pastora, another erstwhile Chavez stronghold. The journalist paned all the historical square and effectively at that time nobody was standing in line. That nobody was even walking around did not seem to have caught her attention to the fact that it was rather early in Sunday morning to have lots of loitering. Well, in a single long breath she had no qualms in saying “this lack of people signing up demonstrates that the people of La Pastora have remained faithful to their president, president Chavez! The opposition has failed in La Pastora!”. I am going to nominate her for an objectivity prize in journalism.

Right then the cameras shifted to Avenida Bolivar were by “coincidence” the Army is holding a subsidized sale of chicken and groceries. Of course the journalist mentioned that contrary to the empty polling stations people are flocking there to do their groceries. Followed all sorts of people thanking Chavez for such a great shopping opportunity. Nobody of course wonders why do we need the army doing this sale or how come that chicken that is missing elsewhere mysteriously appears in the trucks of the Army.

Another VTV talk show starting at 8 PM took great care to publish a hot line number so that chavistas could report “all the abuses, frauds, committed by the opposition which process is so much worse than the exemplary process that we all witnessed last week-end”. One was almost surprised not to ear the words “Traidores de la Patria” betrayers of the fatherland.

Well, VTV folks probably know that if Chavez leave they will be out of a job. One cannot blame them from defending their chicken share.

Otherwise things are starting slowly but surely. Globovision shows many centers that will not reopen today but that are organizing car pooling to drive people to centers where there are still forms to sign up. The opposition was given an official 66% of the electoral universe in forms to sign. 20% are needed. If I were chavista I would start worrying that so many centers ran out of forms on Saturday! Will we reach a 40%? I do not think so but if we were to reach 30% that would be terrible news for Chavez and his clique. And it seems that by tonight we have a chance to make it close to 30%.

I will leave soon for a little city survey to give you another update around noon.

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