"Chávez would win re-election today" -- AP

Jose G. Perez jgperez at netzero.net
Sat Feb 9 10:24:45 MST 2002

    [Sit down before you read this. Some half honest reporting from AP.

    [You know how every day the wires services say Chávez's popularity has
plummetted since being elected in 1998?

    [Well here's the rest of the story: "polls indicate Chavez still would
win an election today."

    [THEIR polls.

    [How can that be? It can be becaused a skillfull pollster can get any
answer he wants depending on how questions are phrased and sequenced. You
can also help your results a great deal by how you bias the sample. Do the
questions among Caracas middle class residents, you will get one response.
Go out among landless peasants who will benefit from the agrarian reform,
you're going to get another. But no matter how much they loaded the dice and
biased the sample, they couldn't do it enough to get the majority of people
to say they don't want him as President.

    [Now, you'dd think that not insignificant FACT --that Chávez was and
remains the PEOPLE's choice-- would have helped Reuter's Pascal Fletcher and
others of his ilk to explain the noisy shenanigans of the opposition this
week, including the circus put on by two soon to be EX military officers, on
which the AP offers this aditional information:

*  *  *

Venezuelan VP: Media Stirred Protest
Sat Feb 9, 2:54 AM ET
By JAMES ANDERSON, Associated Press Writer

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) - Venezuela's vice president accused three dissident
military officers of meeting with a television station director before one
officer publicly demanded the president's resignation.

Diosdado Cabello identified two of those officers as Air Force Col. Pedro
Soto, who stunned Venezuelans Thursday by demanding the resignation of
President Hugo Chavez, and National Guard Capt. Pedro Jose Flores, who later
supported Soto's demand.

The government is trying to identify the third officer, Cabello said Friday.

Cabello didn't identify the television station, but noted that television
cameras broadcast Soto's every move as he demanded Chavez's resignation, was
briefly detained by police and then led thousands of protesters in the

Cabello spoke after several hundred protesters rallied at a Caracas plaza
Friday in support of Soto. Several miles away, hundreds of Chavez supporters
maintained a vigil at the presidential palace and vowed to stay as long as

At a Thursday media forum, Soto surprised the nation by calling for a
civilian junta to replace Chavez until elections can be held. Soto cited
alleged government threats to freedom of expression in making his demand.

Soto, who claimed to be speaking for most of the armed forces, became an
instant hero for Chavez opponents.

But the head of Venezuela's armed forces said there was no dissension within
the ranks and said Soto held a grudge because he was passed over for
promotion to general.

The government also accused Soto of staging a "show" to coincide with an
Organization of American States inspection of press freedoms.

OAS inspector Santiago Canton warned that harassment of reporters by Chavez
supporters endangered press freedoms. But he also said Chavez's use of a law
requiring broadcasters to run his speeches was tolerable as long as it was

The government stressed that allowing Soto to stage his protest shows that
there are no curbs on freedom of expression in Venezuela.

The armed forces command demanded that Soto turn himself in by Monday to
face unspecified "consequences," and the secretary general of the OAS called
on Soto to obey.

"President Hugo Chavez was elected democratically and thus it is
unacceptable for an official of the armed forces to seek to disregard the
rule of law," Cesar Gaviria said in Bogota, Colombia.

But Gaviria also said the international community is watching the Soto case
to for due process and security concerns.

On Friday, Soto evaded reporters' questions about his plans, his political
backing and whether he was trying to provoke Chavez's government into

The events rattled financial markets. The central bank said it spent $1.6
billion this year supporting a bolivar currency that weakened rapidly
against the U.S. dollar this week.

Chavez' popularity has plunged in recent months as his government has fought
with the news media, business and labor unions, and the Roman Catholic

The populist Chavez eviscerated Venezuela's traditional political parties
when he was elected in 1998 on an anti-corruption and anti-poverty platform.

Inspired by a successful general strike in December and a large march last
month, Venezuela's disorganized opposition is looking for ways to unseat
Chavez, whose term ends in 2007.

But polls indicate Chavez still would win an election today.

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