Venezuela: Chavez re-elected on platform to deepen revolution; 3 million people mobilise in support
Green Left TV -- Coral Wynter, an organiser of the 2012 Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network brigade, gives her impression of the massive October 4 final rally in support of Hugo Chavez in the October 7 presidential elections. For more eyewitness accounts from AVSN members, join the AVSN Facebook page.
October 9, 2012 -- Green Left Weekly/Venezuelanalysis.com -- Venezuela's socialist President Hugo Chavez has won the October 7 Venezuelan elections with over 54% of the vote against 45% of the vote for right-wing opposition candidate Henrique Capriles. The National Electoral Council's Tibisay Lucena announced more than 80% of the 19,119,809 registered voters in Venezuela participated in the election.
Venezuelanalysis' Ewen Robertson reports from Merida:
Hugo Chavez has won the Venezuelan presidential election with 54.42% of the vote against 44.97% for opposition candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski. Chavez has made his victory speech, while Capriles has recognised his defeat.
The “first bulletin” results were announced by the president of the National Electoral Council (CNE), Tibisay Lucena, at around 10 pm Venezuelan time, with 90% of the votes totalled, enough to give Chavez an irreversible victory.
The CNE president said, “Once again we’ve had a calm electoral process, without problems, with the joy of this people who decided to vote massively today”.
A spontaneous street party immediately kicked off in the centre of the Andean city of Merida, and a massive crowd of Chavez supporters began celebrating in front of the presidential palace, Miraflores, in Caracas.
“Venezuela will never return to neoliberalism and will continue in the transition to socialism of the 21st century”, Chavez declared to supporters from the “People’s Balcony” of the presidential palace, after his victory was confirmed.
“I want make a recognition to the whole Venezuelan people, the whole Venezuelan nation. Today the country of (Simon) Bolivar was reborn”, added the socialist president, while congratulating the country “for a civic and democratic day”.
The re-elected Venezuelan president also congratulated the Venezuelan opposition for recognising the CNE’s result, saying “they’ve recognised the truth, they’ve recognised the victory of the people”.
Meanwhile, Henrique Capriles, who was the candidate for the opposition Roundtable of Democratic Unity Coalition (MUD), recognised his defeat, stating to supporters “to know how to win, you need to know how to lose!”
He added, “We began the construction of a path and on it there are more than 6 x million people who are looking for a better future… I’m convinced that this country can be better and I’m convinced that Venezuela is going to be better”.
Chavez received a total of 7,444,082 votes to 6,151,154 for his right-wing rival. He will govern for the 2013 – 2019 presidential term, his third constitutional term in office under the 1999 National Constitution.
Turnout was one the highest in Venezuela’s history, with 80.94% of the 19,119,809 registered voters in Venezuela participating in the election.
The poll came three days after more than 3 million people took over the streets of Caracas in a huge show of support for Chavez and his socialist platform. Below, Venezuelanalysis' Rachael Boothroyd reports from Caracas on the huge demonstration.
Over three million Chavez supporters flooded the streets of Caracas yesterday to show their support for the re-election of current Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez ahead of the country’s presidential elections on Sunday.
The rally was the final act of the three month long election campaign, and is reported to be the largest to have taken place in the nation’s history, stretching right throughout the seven main avenues of the capital city.
It comes just three days after Chavez called on supporters to mobilise for his final campaign rally following an opposition march in support of right-wing candidate Capriles Radonski, which succeeded in filling one of the main streets in the capital.
“On Thursday, everybody should be in Caracas, so the city overflows with the Bolivarian avalanche. We are going to fill 7 avenues and more,” said Chavez from a campaign rally in Barinas on Monday.
By 1 pm, over five of the main streets and most of the metro lines were already filled to the brim with noisy and joyous supporters, who chanted, sang, danced and blew horns as they waited for Chavez to arrive. Determined to show their support for the socialist president, many people from the nearby shantytowns surrounding Caracas descended from the hilltops on foot when they proved too numerous for local transport links.
“It was him who gave a voice to the students, who thought of the poor and brought us the revolution,” said a student to Venezuelan state TV channel, VTV.
Despite the heavy rain which flooded Caracas’ streets, the Venezuelan president managed to make his way through the crowds by 2pm, when he then addressed what has come to be known as the Chavista “sea of red.” He promised the crowd that he would be a “better president” and a “better companion” to the people during his next term.
“Within the next 6 years we should be in first place in the world for education, health, housing, nutrition and employment... In our hands the life of our homeland will not be lost, of that I am sure,” he declared.
With chants such as “Chavez isn’t going” ringing throughout the centre of the city, the atmosphere was jubilant and many there predicted a resounding victory for the socialist president on Sunday.
“Today Capriles died and on Sunday, we’ll bury him” said an elderly man to other people sheltering from the rain in a cafe near to Bellas Artes in the city centre.
Many of those at the march were eager to talk about their love of Chavez, as well as international perceptions of the elections; especially media reports that marchers were “forced or paid to attend”.
“My presence here comes from the heart,” said one of the women from the government’s education program, Mission Ribas, who was also sheltering from the downpour.
Inside the cafe many continued to dance and sing despite the rain, which was broken by intermittent chants in support of Chavez and his re-election as president.
“Caracas was totally bursting! They (the opposition) say it was a show, they say that people were paid, but the reality is that our homeland calls upon us to be there, long live our leader (Chavez),” said Joseph Sanabria, 19, a student at the Bolivarian University, to Venezuelanalysis.com.
“Just make the comparison, either we live how we did 20 years ago, hungry and poor, or we continue with the transition to socialism, which is simply love, peace, harmony, equality and independence,” continued Sanabria.
The day’s celebrations went on well into the night, with people gathering outside of the presidential palace Miraflores to listen and dance to music from salsa to reggaeton and even ant-capitalist rap.
Most polls in Venezuela give incumbent president Chavez a 10% lead or more over his right-wing opponent, Capriles Radonski.
The continued popularity of the government has been attributed in part to the implementation of a series of “social missions” which provide free health, education and subsidised food to the population, as well to initiatives aimed at deepening citizens’ political participation such as through locally based bodies of self-governance known as “communal councils”.
From GLW issue 940