[RCG 07.10.12 - 12pm] Today is '7-O' Sunday the 7 October, the day that Venezuela has been waiting for, for months. The polling booths opened at 6am but already people were queuing up to use their right to vote.
Today's election will determine whether Hugo Chavez of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) will remain president, allowing the continuation of the Bolivarian Revolution and the huge gains it represents for the working class of Venezuela, other whether the right wing Henrique Capriles Radonski of the Mesa de la Unidad Democrática (MUD) coalition will return the country to poverty, neoliberalism and instability.
We went out early this morning to watch the process and speak with people on the streets of Caño Amarillo waiting to vote. The Bolivarian National Police were assisting the elderly and disabled, providing transport and support to ensure they could participate in the democratic process. As Alonso, waiting in the polling booth queue, ensured us 'here the voting process is completely transparent, automated and fair, the best in the world.'
Given the tirade of propaganda against Venezuela from the capitalist press it is worth stating a few things about the electoral process.
Today is Venezuela's 15th set of national elections since the election of Hugo Chavez in 1998, more elections have taken place here in the last 14 years than the previous 40 years, and still the international media try to present Hugo Chavez as a dictator, oppressing the democratic rights of the people.
The EU and the Organisation of American States declared the previous presidential election in 2006 'free and fair'. Former US president Jimmy Carter of the Carter organisation which observes elections around the world declared last month that 'the election process in Venezuela is the best in the world' and today's presidential elections have been observed by 200 international witnesses included representatives from UNASUR-the Union of South American Nations.
Voters have to register with the National Electoral Council (CNE) in the months leading to the election, so that on voting day, they have to present their fingerprint on an automated machine in order to vote, this prevents identity theft or double voting.
After voting the machine prints out a receipt of the vote to allow the voter ensure it tallies with their intention, then this receipt is given to the CNE so that over half of all the votes can be counted manually to check the validity of the automated results.
Despite preparing the ground to call fraud, the opposition even used the CNE to oversee their primary elections to elect their presidential candidate Capriles, prompting The MUD Executive Secretary to describe the CNE's role as 'an excellent indication of the democratic institutions in the country'.
Despite the rumours and threats by the opposition to cause destabilisation in the country, so far the election process has run smoothly without problems or violence with 4,836 members of the National Bolivarian Police at the polling station guaranteeing peace and stability.
Whilst Chavez is likely to win the election and has lead by a margin of more than 10% for months, much will hang on the amount of votes Chavez wins and whether he achieves his goal of 10 million. The Venezuelan voters are waiting in earnest to hear the results of a truly historic election.