To vote? not to vote? but marching again in Caracas
By Daniel Duquenal | Venezuela News and Views
31.07.05 | The news was rather good today, in a sick way perhaps, but rather satisfying. First the news.
The opposition did his best march so far this year. At least number wise according to what one can see from Miguel's pics, Globovision or the newspapers blurbs. Probably on state VTV the march did not even happen. Indeed in the ABN, the bolibanana press agency, the news did not appear at all, but we can read the declaration of Izarra as "the impartiality of Telesur". I am not even going to bother to watch Telesur who is already showing signs of total ridicule. Incidentally, AboliBanaNa did show the pics of a MegaMercal that was hastily assembled today downtown Caracas on the path the march was supposed to follow. It certainly gave the opportunity for chavismo to assemble a few red shirts to throw stones and insults to the pacific marchers. Not to mention that it helped the now repressive Metropolitan Police block all accesses to the CNE, even to the ones that were previously agreed.
The march of course failed to reach the CNE where it was supposed to protest the unacceptable voting conditions already exposed by Sumate just to name the principal critic. (1)
However a few scenes were quite revealing of the mood of the country. In no particular order.
The opposition energies are gathering again. This was not the glorious marches of 2003 and 2004, but at least it was a decent one and probably the best so far this year. With a good motivation, and no old politicians directing, people seem to be willing to consider hitting the streets again. Noticed that BBC?
The red shirts screaming showed that chavismo democratic tendencies are not only not improving and iota, but are becoming worse and worse. A few days ago the PPT did a similar type of march, but it seems that the opposition is barred from accessing downtown services. It is good that embassies and foreign wires see that "reconciliation" remains a chimera, that chavismo project is never going to tolerate dissent, that recent repression is just the start. Got that Carter Center?
The CNE, more arrogant than ever if possible, refused to receive a delegation of the marchers. Instead, supposedly, they sent a general. What the heck was a general doing there? Could not one of the 5 rectors come? One of the 10 sub-rectors? The CNE doorman? Of course, the head of what would have been the protesters delegation tore down the document and threw it at the face of the general. This would have been unthinkable as recently as 2003. But the subservient role of the army since 2003, its now obvious moral and ethical corruption has degraded its image so much that we can now expect to see scenes as today more and more frequently. Did you catch this Reuters?
The Metropolitana Police, who until October last year was trying to hold separate the two sides no matter which march was taking place is now showing that the "reorganization" of Caracas new Mayor "at large" Barreto is transforming it fast into yet another governmental agency, readying itself for repression and more repression. Got that AFP?
The alleged pro opposition 5th rector, Sobella Mejias, decided to go and meet the protesters. She was so late in her decision that by the time she reached the area, tear gas and water cannon had dispersed whoever came. It is hard to accept that she was late and acting on good faith. Why not move your ass faster if you are supporting free elections? But to see her one could not help notice how much chubbier she had become, and how unconvincing she sounds now. Gone where the pre referendum days where she stood her ground and denounced all the twisted maneuvers of the CNE. Now, she is calling for people to vote, even as she expresses that the conditions are still not good. Did you ever consider quitting Sobella? Did it ever occurred to you that by staying there, pigging out at every party and wearing silly CNE hats you are looking like a fool, or worse, an apologist of the regime? Write that down on your list of "impartial" folks to interview Telesur!
That is why I feel strangely satisfied tonight. In a few hours today it was possible to see a refresher course of all what is wrong with Venezuelan electoral system, what a joke (fraud?) the system has become. Who could think objectively tonight that elections are fair and honest in Venezuela?
I bet the "to vote or not to vote" debate will speed up this week as we are a few days away from the municipal elections. Meanwhile the AFP photographer who got injured by a chavista agitator might start rethinking about where AFP sees democracy in Venezuela.
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(1) a round up of Venezuelan electoral problems has been recently offered in this blog for those needing more background.
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