Voting Day in Venezuela!

Thought I should check in, even though there are no results yet obviously. Indeed, there has been an announcement that the polls are closing 4 hours later than planned — 10pm, that is, instead of 6pm. It is going to be a long night.

The private network Globovision is covering it as “REFERENDO REVOCATORIO” (recall referendum). The state channel VTV is covering it as “PARTICIPATION 2004”.

More on all this later, but I went to two neighbourhoods. First, to 23 enero, one of the poor barrios, of 500,000 people, that is solidly NO! It is a place that got some media attention today because Chavez himself voted there (I saw my good friend Juan Forero there again). The people of that barrio have been fighting for social change for decades — one of them gave a very good interview and history that I will post some time soon — and were confident, organized, and serious.

Next stop: El Bosque! Country clubs! Social clubs! SUVs! And a very long lineup of umbrella-holding SI voters. Got a good interview there too, with someone who was every bit as confident as the people of 23 enero. According to her, there were two possibilities: either the opposition will win, or the government will have committed fraud. There seemed to be a lot of SI voters. And it seems to me they will be genuinely stunned if (when) they lose. More on this, too.

As far as procedural things go, there have been some. Carter started by saying this morning that things were going normal. Most polling stations opened late, well after 6am, with long lineups. Some of the registration machines that take fingerprints aren´t working. There have been a few other machine glitches.

But by far the weirdest thing so far has been (published on aporrea.org) that a fake tape recording of the president of the National Electoral Council, Francisco Carrasquero, was discovered. On it, a voice impersonating Carrasquero´s announced that the SI forces got 11 436 086 votes and that thus Chavez was revoked. The real Carrasquero said at a press conference that they are doing an “exhaustive investigation” of this “serious electoral crime”.

If you can read spanish at all, the place to go tonight is aporrea.org. I was in their “control room” yesterday and hope to get back there tonight (I am in the Narconews “control room” now). But aporrea.org is filing dozens of reports every hour, following every irregularity or problem.

You´ll have a full report as soon as the results are in. And maybe before, if anything else happens…

In this room I have had a chance to spend some time looking at other news for the first time since I arrived here. It looks like the US is preparing for a major massacre in Najaf. It is almost as if the US was the vindictive ruler of a global system of domination, punishing one population by smashing through holy sites and civilian areas at the same time as it is (maybe) resigning itself to losing a battle with another population. It is almost as if the US were fighting a two-front oil war… retreating on one front and assaulting on the other. Even if (when) “NO” wins tonight, it will be bitter that one people are winning yet another battle for their self-determination while another is being denied and massacred for fighting for the same thing.

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