On the spot reports from Venezuela: Right-wing seeks to undermine November 23 elections

Below Green Left Weekly/Links Caracas correspondent Federico Fuentes speaks to Latin Radical about developments and possible outcomes of November's regional and state elections in Venezuela. Following that, GLW's Jim McIlroy and Coral Wynter also report from Caracas on the US-backed opposition's antics.

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Part 2
Federico Fuentes from Caracas - The Australian brigade.
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Venezuela: Right-wing seeks to undermine November 23 elections

By Coral Wynter & Jim McIlroy, Caracas

November 15, 2008 -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has warned that the right-wing opposition in his country is planning destabilisation actions during the November 23 elections for state governors and mayors, according to the November 12 Ultimas Noticias.

Chavez said that the opposition is preparing “violent acts in November and December. This revolution is armed and the people are ready to defend the process. Make no mistake.” Chavez was addressing a mass meeting in Caracas’s Teresa Carreno auditorium to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of former Chilean president Salvador Allende, whose government was overthrown in a US-backed coup in 1973.

Chavez also denounced US interference in the recent municipal elections in Nicaragua. “Shut up, Bush”, Chavez said, while expressing hope that US president-elect Barack Obama was “not going to follow the same old comedy” and would “take his proper place in history, forget about imperialism, about trampling all over the world bombing villages”. Chavez said he hoped Obama would dedicate himself to forming “a government that would work in harmony with the rest of the world”.

Chavez had earlier denounced plans by the opposition to refuse to recognise the possible triumph of candidates of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) in the crucial, oil-rich western state of Zulia, where right-wing leader Manuel Rosales is retiring as governor.

Chavez claimed that “the unpatriotic Venezuelan bourgeoisie are going around making desperate moves, above all here in Zulia, where the continuity of their domination is in danger”, Ultimas Noticias reported.

“When support for [PSUV] candidate [Gian Carlo di Martino] keeps rising so strongly, they go around frightening people and saying that an electoral fraud is being prepared. Now they are preparing the ground to not recognise the possible victory of Di Martino, in order not to recognise the triumph of the Bolivarians”, Chavez added.

“They want to ignite the country again through provocations. They are going around looking for the military to stage another coup d’etat”, Chavez argued.

“They are going around looking for paramilitaries in Colombia to infiltrate our country with the intention of destabilising it.”

Chavez is leading a campaign of mass rallies and marches (caravanas) in support of PSUV candidates all around Venezuela. At large rallies of red-T-shirted supporters, Chavez has called for people to mobilise to vote on November 23, emphasising that “PSUV candidates are my candidates”.

According to the November 9 Ultimas Noticias, Chavez told a large crowd in Valencia the previous day: “We will not rest until we win. We will fight the battle to the end.”

Chavez has stressed the need to combat abstention by people who had overwhelmingly supported his government in the past, such as in December 2006 when he was re-elected president with 63% of the vote.

One year later, a high level of abstention by Chavez supporters resulted in the narrow defeat of a referendum over proposed constitutional changes that aimed to dramatically deepen the revolutionary process.

Other rallies and meetings have expressed strong support for PSUV candidates. On November 8, a big public meeting of Latin American immigrants living in Venezuela, especially Colombians, enthusiastically endorsed the revolutionary process and the PSUV as a unifying force for the continent, according to the November 9 Diario Vea.

A mass meeting of “people of the third age” (retirees and the elderly) supported PSUV candidate for mayor of greater Caracas, Aristabulo Isturiz, on November 9, the following day’s Diario Vea reported.

Summing up the campaign, PSUV director Dario Vivas stated: “Now, the only thing discussion is how to mobilise the people: From door knocking to mass action, there are various ways of closing the campaign.”

[From Green Left Weekly issue #775 November 19, 2008.]