(click for details:)One big “Por que no te callas?”: Venezuela Hands Narrow Defeat to Chavez Plan
Please listen to today’s podcast for more information.
My guest was Dr. Luis Fleischman.
Dr Fleischman is an advisor to the Menges Hemispheric Security Project at the Center for Security Policy in Washington DC. He is also an adjunct professor of Political Science and Sociology at Wilkes Honor College at Florida Atlantic University.
While we were doing the podcast the news came that the Chavez government is claiming victory. Reuters reports,
Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan president, is heading for victory in a referendum on allowing him to remain in power as long as he keeps winning elections, two government-linked sources said citing exit polls.
Three exit polls showed Chavez won by between six and eight points in a vote where turnout was low, they told Reuters news agency.
No surprises there.
The question is, what comes next.
Spanish Pundit posts that
“La falta de neutralidad exhibida por el CNE venezolano es escandalosa” porque “limita el movimiento” de los observadores a través de diferentes acreditaciones, dependiendo de si apoyan o no el éxito del referéndum”. Así lo ha denunciado esta tarde un dirigente del PP español, Carlos Iturgáiz, que está como observador en Caracas.
“The electoral board’s bias is scandalous” because it “limited the movement” of observers across different poll station, depending on whether the observers are in favor of the referendum or not. So has denounced this afternoon Carlos Igurgaiz a leader of the Spanish Popular Party, who is observing in Caracas.
El Universal reports that the voting center at the Miguel Antonio Caro school in Catia has over 200 people still waiting to vote as of 5:33PM Caracas time. One of the voting machines broke down and voters are waiting for printed ballots to arrive. An hour earlier one of the voting machines had been replaced, and even when 600 people are registered at that school only 132 had voted.
El Universal (in Spanish) has a Minuto-a-Minuto section; the latest (4:26PM Caracas time) says that the observers from the (Chavez-controlled) board of elections have stated that “the electoral process took place normally.”
Excellent roundup of blogs and news sources at A Colombo-americana’s perspective
This Ain’t Hell is watching …with bated breath
My new friends at Western Hemisphere Policy Watch wonder “Venezuela Lurching Towards Civil War?” A Blog For All and Bryan at Hot Air compare Venezuela’s vote to Russia’s. In Redstate, Pejman Yousefzadeh says democracy is under seige. No More Spin outlines the Constitutional reforms that are being voted upon today. Neptunus Lex writes that the referendum disputes Francis Fukuyama’s contention that the end of the Cold War ended history. Michele Malkin has some more poll results.
And the US Left still clings to the “Operation Pliers” farce.
Quick picture report
Polls should be closing soon unless there are people waiting in line outside.
It would clearly pain Reuters to describe Mr. Chavez as a psychotic Communist demagogue who is now reaching for total dictatorial power.
Instead, they call him an “anti-Washington firebrand.” They characterize this naked power grab as an attempt at “reforms” to help “the people.”
They even pretend that this “referendum” could go either way, as if the outcome was in any way ever in doubt.
Pre-electoral song and dance reported at CNN
Chavez, 53, warmed the crowd up by serenading them with holiday “gaitas” and other traditional songs before turning his attention to a litany of enemies and perceived enemies: internal critics, the United States, Spain’s King Juan Carlos, Colombia’s President Alvaro Uribe and domestic and international media.
Venezuela News and Views posts on The election day post: the doomsday vote
PMBComments: On the State of Venezuela’s Democracy posts a 14-item list on What Comes Next? Some “Factoids” in Lieu of Scenarios. YOU MUST READ HIS POST.
Rumsfeld‘s article at the WaPo is now in the dead-tree paper.
Al-Jazeera’s Mariana Sanchez reporting from Venezuela finds discontent among Chavez’s base:
Hugo’s already making plans for next year and promises to expel Spanish companies out of Venezuela if Spain’s conservative party wins next year’s elections. Of course he’s counting on $100/barrel oil to keep him in power.
The guy from the Beeb covers his butt )emphasis added):
The BBC’s Americas editor, Emilio San Pedro, says the elections are expected to be as free and fair as all previous ones since Mr Chavez came to power in 1998.
The Beeb reports large turnout (video).