If Rory Carroll wants to out himself (and by extension The Guardian) as a hardline supporter of the neoliberal Capriles Radonski in the Venezuelan elections, he is entitled to do so. What he is not entitled to do is tell outright lies to back up his tendentious arguments.
I have been in Caracas during the election period. I was on the march last week (which dwarfed that of Capriles) when over a million people sang and danced in the torrential rain while waiting to hear Chavez speak; I was at Barrio 23 when they waited for two hours in the baking sun for him to arrive to vote, and I was at Miraflores Palace when the results were announced and thousands went wild with joy.
Yet it was clear from everyone I spoke to, from street vendors to police officers to lawyers, that this support was not about Chavez’s ‘charisma’ but about a solid appreciation of everything that has been achieved for the poor – health care, education, housing, independence, food security – by the Bolivarian revolution he embodies, and the understanding that this process would have been destroyed had Caprlles come to power.
Chavez did not, as Carroll suggests, ‘dominate the media’. The media in Venezuela is 90% owned by the opposition; in fact according to Mark Weisbrot in the Guardian on 4th October, state TV has between 5-8% of the country’s audience.
Carroll says ‘some opponents have cried foul’. His friends, maybe, but the official opposition has made no such claims, accepting defeat and praising the smooth running of election day. Carroll gives us a brief history of Chavez, but not curiously of Capriles. Is that because he would have had to tell us that Capriles participated in the 2002 coup and was involved in an attack on the Cuban Embassy in his home state of Miranda?
Finally, he tells us that Chavez uses the fact that he has a majority as a ‘pillar of his legitimacy’. Excuse me, Mr Carroll, but that’s what democracy’s all about.
Posada de la Vida, Caracas, Venezuela
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Thousands of Chavez supporters gathered on the road that runs past the Miraflores presidential palace on Sunday night to hear the results of the presidential election.
The area was a sea of waving national flags and red banners proclaiming support for Chavez; red t-shirts, baseball caps, bandanas and hats as far as the eye could see, and even the youngest children joining in with chants of ‘Uh! Ah! Chavez no se va!’ and ‘Victoria! Victoria! Victoria popular!’
Shortly after 10 o’clock, the director of the national electoral council announced the interim results: with 90% of the vote counted, Hugo Chavez had won a third term as president with 54.42% of the vote so far.
The crowd exploded with whoops and cheers and hoots of the ubiquitous plastic horns, hugging each other whilst singing the Venezuelan national anthem, before surging down the street towards the palace shouting ‘We want to see Chavez!’, where he appeared on the balcony to address the crowd, saying ‘Today nearly eight million Venezuelans voted for me, voted for our country, voted for independence and socialism’, the sheer joy and enthusiasm was palpable.
Neoliberal opposition candidate Capriles Radonski conceded defeat, trailing with just under 45%, or around six million votes. Turnout nationally was just under 81%. The result is an overwhelming confirmation of the support of the Venezuelan working class for the Bolivarian Revolution.
As we came home through central Caracas the street party was still going on, with music, dancing, cheering and shouts of 'Viva Chavez!'
23 de Enero, Caracas
[RCG 07/10/2012 - 2pm] In the historic barrio of 23 de Enero, Caracas, famous for its community organisation and collectives, we waited in the relentless sun with the crowds waiting for Chavez to come and vote, as is his tradition.
Chavez arrived around 1pm and addressed the crowds before heading in to deposit his vote as is the right of every Venezuelan or naturalised citizen in the country.
In the polling booth Chavez answered questions from the national and international press, affirming that the Bolivarian Revolution does not depend on one man, 'because this is not about individual leaderships anymore. Here, in Venezuela, there is youth.'
The polling booths will close at 6pm, then the vote will be counted automatically and manually, once an irreversible trend has been established, the CNE (National Electoral Council) will announce the preliminary results, the full results will be published the next day.
Hugo Chavez has won the Venezuelan elections with over 54.44% of the vote against 45% of the vote for opposition candidate Henrique Capriles. The results were announced by the president of the National Electoral Council, Tibisay Lucena, a few minutes ago. Over 80% of the 19,119,809 registered voters in Venezuela participated in the election.
Venceremos! We will win! Viva Venezuela!
[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.
RCG [07.10.12] There is a popular saying in Venezuela that the capitalist class may control the media but we the people control the streets.
The vast crowds of Venezuelans - estimated at around 3 million - who thronged through Caracas on Friday 5th October in support of the Bolivarian Revolution were the clearest, most concrete rebuttal possible to the lies and caricatures about Chavez in the run-up to the presidential election on Sunday.
See our video of the events are they unfolded below, with some commentary from our RCG delegation as the day went on.
[RCG 07.10.12] On Saturday 6 October 2012, the day before the crucial presidential elections in Venezuela, members of the Revolutionary Communist Group took to the streets in Kilburn, North West London, in support of the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela, where people are rising up to defend the gains they have won over the last ten years. The event also celebrated the revolutionary legacy of Ernesto 'Che' Guevara, on the 45th anniversary of his death in combat.
05/10/12 La Salina, Vargas State
[RCG 05.10.12] 'Popular education is essential in order to develop the socialist process, the people, educated and conscious, have to be the protagonists of this construction, it is a crucial part of developing the vanguard' - Rafael Angulo Facilitator of ENFODEP and coordinator of the community newspaper 'El Salitre' in the coastal community of La Salina, Vargas State.
Drawing on the theory and practice of Paulo Freire, ENFODEP (Ensayo de Formacion de Educadores Populares, Formation of Popular Educators) has been developing the political reflection needed for sustained community action since 1991. We had the opportunity today to visit La Salina and speak with popular educators and protagonists in the communal councils.