Venezuela's Petition Drive: A Moment For History
By Aleksander Boyd, Director of Proveo
Opposition umbrella group, Democratic Coordinator, urged Venezuelans to massively participate in the petition drive for this “is a moment for history”.
And the people of Venezuela have overwhelmingly done so. As early as 6:00 a.m. people lined up outside signature collection centers in order to sign recall petitions against the Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez.
In some areas across the country, the process was delayed because the military officers in charge of protecting the signature collection centers - under the so-called Plan República - and the petition forms did not arrive on time.
According to opposition leader and president of Alianza Bravo Pueblo party, Antonio Ledezma, Plan República was installed significantly late in western oil-rich Zulia State. He stated, however, that in the other states of the nation the signing centers are working under increasingly normal conditions.
Sources informed that the referendum bid is being conducted normally throughout Caracas, including the municipalities of Sucre and Libertador, allegedly Hugo Chavez' strongholds.
Motorists in several areas of the capital city were honking their horns, flying national flags and turning lights on and off as a way to support this electoral move. Other enthusiasts have been heard chanting “Freedom, freedom”, “He [President Chávez] is gone, gone, gone” or singing the national anthem.
It has also been reported that some centers are running out of petition material, given the excessive turnout of signers.
Unfortunately, there have been several violent outbursts during the day. For instance, Miguel Henrique Otero, editor of newspaper El Nacional, was attacked by pro-government demonstrators when he attended a signature collection center located in Carapita, Caracas. While Chavez’s followers attacked Otero, the military troops in full combat gear seemed more interested in preventing the media from covering the incident than in controlling pro-government protesters.
The four-day signature campaign is also taking place overseas. The coordinator for the UK, Mr Aleksander Boyd reported that numerous Venezuelans, are coming from adjacent areas, to gather at the signing center located in London since early in the morning today.
The signature drive in the city of London will be carried out today and tomorrow at Fitzroy Square W1 from 10 AM to 5 PM. The event will be organized by Proveo (Pro Venezuela Organization). All Venezuelans that are registered voters are welcome to attend. The only documents needed are laminated identification cards or Venezuelan passports and a print out of his or her electoral information -- which can be obtained at http://www.cne.gov.ve/ce.asp.
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