[Marxism] Chavez Wins Easily in Venezuela, Showing Wide Support

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Mon Dec 4 06:49:53 MST 2006

("Long live the socialist revolution!" The NYT adds an exclamation
point to the Chavez quote, but its report is otherwise virtually
identical in tone and line to the Wall Street Journal's report.
Will they accept the Bolivarian process now that it has received a
decisive democratic majority? That is not likely, but Venezuela's
position is now strengthened as the struggle now moves forward.
Here in the United States, such a high level of participation in
the political process as we have witnessed in Venezuela would be
a giant step forward for our country. Its lessons and example are
ones we should all do what we can to share as widely as possible.)

December 4, 2006
Chávez Wins Easily in Venezuela, Showing Wide Support


CARACAS, Venezuela, Dec. 3 — President Hugo Chávez was re-elected in
a landslide on Sunday night, as voting tallies poured in from
throughout the country. Mr. Chávez’s main opponent conceded defeat,
paving the way for the president to begin a new six-year term.

With 78 percent of the votes counted, Mr. Chávez was ahead with 61
percent, compared with 38 percent for Manuel Rosales, the governor of
Zulia State, Venezuela’s electoral council said late Sunday night as
it declared Mr. Chávez the winner. Thousands of supporters filed into
the streets around Miraflores, the presidential palace downtown, to
hear Mr. Chávez deliver a victory speech in the rain.

“Long live the socialist revolution!” Mr. Chávez yelled to the crowd,
pumping his fist in the air. His supporters, many of them dancing,
reacted by chanting, “Ooh-ah, Chávez isn’t leaving!”

The win for Mr. Chávez gives him a stronger mandate to press forward
with his socialist-inspired policies in Venezuela and abroad. He
signaled as much in his victory speech, invoking figures from Jesus
Christ to Pancho Villa as influences for his ambitious plans.

The tension between the campaigns of Mr. Chávez and Mr. Rosales
reflected a polarized electorate in Venezuela, but by contrast the
voting itself was largely tranquil, with few reports of clashes or
other violence. Both candidates spent heavily in the race, with
supporters for Mr. Chávez and Mr. Rosales each using American polling
companies until well into Sunday evening.

Evans/McDonough, a polling company based in Oakland, Calif., and
hired by Venezuela’s national oil company, released an exit poll
indicating that Mr. Chávez was ahead, with 58 percent of the vote, to
40 percent for Mr. Rosales.

The results showed Mr. Rosales doing better than had been forecast in
some polls, and his advisers said that quick counts indicated that he
had won in several states and Caracas. But Mr. Rosales conceded
defeat in a brief speech Sunday night, while saying the margin of Mr.
Chávez’s victory was narrower than official results indicated.

“It’s been a hard fight against the mechanisms, all the dimensions of
the government,” Mr. Rosales said.

Antonio Márquez, an official with Mr. Rosales’s campaign, said:
“There’s been a great deal of pressure exerted by the government to
demonstrate that they won. This climate of tension is not positive
for the country.”

Other campaign officials for Mr. Rosales said soldiers had forced
some polling places to remain open past the 4 p.m. closing time on
Sunday to allow supporters of Mr. Chávez to vote. International
observers in various parts of the country, however, said the election
took place without signs of wrongdoing.

“One had to be moved by the earnestness and attention to detail,”
said Martin Garbus, a trial lawyer from New York invited by
Venezuela’s government to observe the election in Sarare, a town in
the state of Lara. “It was a lesson in participatory democracy.”

Once the official results are in, how Mr. Chávez and Mr. Rosales
react will determine whether Venezuela will return to the instability
and street violence that had marred earlier elections. Mr. Rosales
said Sunday night that he would continue leading the political
opposition in the country, but it was clear that many critics of Mr.
Chávez were hoping for a stronger response.

Still, the margin in Mr. Chávez’s favor reflected widespread support
for the president as Venezuela reaps the economic benefits of high
oil prices. Mr. Chavez has redirected government spending by creating
an array of social welfare programs that benefit the poor.

In Caracas, voting at the Simón Bolívar elementary school in San
Blas, a slum in the Petare district, proceeded calmly on Sunday
morning. Once outside after voting, some voters put on red shirts and
hats, indicating their support for Mr. Chávez. “I’m red, very red,”
said Carlos Gelvis, an unemployed man from Petare, in a reference to
a refrain of Mr. Chávez’s campaign.

Mr. Chávez voted in the 23 de Enero district, a stronghold of support
for his “Bolívarian revolution,” which espouses distributing oil
revenues to the poor. The president arrived to vote in a red
Volkswagen Beetle and surprisingly extended what seemed to be an
olive branch to the Bush administration.

He responded to remarks by Thomas A. Shannon Jr., the United States
assistant secretary of state for the Western Hemisphere, in a Spanish
newspaper, El País, which had quoted him as saying, “The political
battle that is unfolding within Venezuela is now conducted through
democratic institutions.”

Mr. Chávez said that Mr. Shannon “at least recognized we have
democracy in Venezuela,” and added, “I think these are good signs.”

Amid all the voters clad in red clothing in 23 de Enero was Henry
Borrero, who stood out with his faded blue polo shirt and his
opposition to Mr. Chávez. “I want a free country where my 21-year-old
son has the freedom to choose,” said Mr. Borrero, who accompanied his
mother, who also said she had voted for Mr. Rosales. “Not one where
you need a red shirt to get a job.”

Jens Erik Gould and Jose Orozco contributed reporting.

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