Sunday, December 3, 2006

Early Afternoon in Caracas

Since we left earlier today, we have seen and done a lot. Espe was interviewed for "Radio Libre Negro Primero", as was I once again, and I also spoke to "Radio Comunitario Barrio Sendero de Antimano". But the best discussions were with people in the poorest barrios. More on that in a

[We're having proplems getting images uploaded - stay tuned!]

We heard from someone that there are roughly 16 million eligible voters and that participation will be high. The long lines in all areas - from the poorest barrios to the escualido neighborhoods - confirm this. Despite all the tension in the air in the last few days, it has been an incredibly open, transparent, and peaceful process - there have been no reports of major incidents that we know of.

Faced with certain defeat, it seems Rosales' strategy may be to claim that in those areas inclined to vote for him, there are irregularities. Opposition folks have tred to rile up lines by saying that the lines are being held up on purpose, that there are blank ballots, etc. Some people have reported that the lines in opposition areas don't seem to be as long as they were during the 2004 recall referendum. And nonetheless, there are reports on some websites saying that Rosales is winning (although it is illegal to pre-empt the announcement of the National Electoral Council - CNE). They are already denouncing it as a fraud, and some people reported that the shirts with "Fraud!" on them are bein distributed. All has gone relatively well so far, but we'll see what happens once the official announcement is made...

The difference between the popular barrios (like Sarria and San Agustin) and the more middle class neighborhoods is really astonishing. Not only in the quality and upkeep of the buildings, roads, and other infrastructure, but in the energy and ethusiasm for the revolution. There are plenty of pro-Chavez voters in middle class areas (like Candelaria), and a handful of anti-Chavez folks in the poorer areas, but the absolutely organic, electric joy of the poor who are already celebrating what they know to be their resounding victory. Generally speaking, there seems to be an inverse proportion between the level of poverty and enthusiasm for the revolution. The revolutionary fervor that pours out of the poorest areas has to be lived to understand. Once it was clear we were supporters of the revolution, we were received with open arms, cheers, music, dancing, and endless discussions, stories, introductions, photos, etc.

Contrast this to the story we heard about a Globovision (opposition TV station) that attempted to film in a poor neighborhood - they were driven out with stones and almost had their cameras taken from them!)

We'll be heading out again soon to tpopular neighborhoods to report more later tonight...

Photos and video to follow...

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