|On October 7, more than 16 million registered voters will vote in the presidential elections in Venezuela. They will choose between the re-election of President Hugo Chavez, the candidate supported by the Great Patriotic Pole (GPP) and Henrique Capriles, the candidate of the right-wing neo-liberal Coalition for Democratic Unity (MUD).
Ten days before the election, the independent polling firms Consultores and International Consulting Services (ICS) predicted President Chavez would win. Consultores gave figures of 57.5 per cent to 42.5 per cent in favour of Chavez and similarly ICS gave and 60.01 per cent to 39.2 per cent.
In keeping with the tradition that each district organizes a march to accompany their favourite candidate, millions of Venezuelans have been taking part in these marches across the country since the start of the election period chanting in unison, "Chavez is the country's heart!"
Speaking at one of these popular assemblies, on September 26 in the state of Falcon, President Chavez said, "We must win overwhelmingly on October 7. For this it is necessary that we begin immediate mobilization in every neighbourhood, every street, every village, every city, everywhere so that not a single vote is left out." Referring to his lead over the right-wing candidate, Chavez emphasized that even if it is a given that he will win the election, "We need to work hard, no one should let their guard down, we have not only the obligation to win, but to have a strong win."
This call for a decisive win aims to demonstrate support for the Bolivarian revolution and neutralize the intentions of the opposition to destabilize the country by refusing to recognize the election results. Indeed, MUD executive secretary, Ramón Guillermo Aveledo, referring to the possibility that political organizations that are members of his coalition will not recognize the official election results, said MUD will only respect results that they consider to be "trustworthy." This statement was made two days after the agitator Yon Goicoechea published an article in the newspaper El Universal, entitled "Fraud Is Not Free." Goicoechea claims that the October 7 results "will not be determined by facts, as today it is known that Henrique [Capriles] will win that contest. What there will be that night is a military decision which, being a mistaken one, will generate a massacre." The article suggests that the National Electoral Council will commit fraud during the elections and claims that opposition supporters will take to the streets to defend their vote, likening this to the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989. Goicoechea was one of the principal organizers of the 2007 protests by student groups opposed to the Chavez government which were ultimately aligned with the reactionary forces that serve U.S. interests. It should be noted that for this activity, Goicoechea was awarded the Milton Friedman Prize for Advancing Liberty in 2008, worth U.S.$50,000, by the U.S. libertarian think tank the Cato Institute.
At the same time, former U.S. ambassador Patrick Duddy, who was expelled from Venezuela in 2008 for collaborating in a coup with a group of military officers, wrote a paper published this September by the U.S. Council on Foreign relations calling for sanctions against Venezuela "if the election results appear fraudulent." Duddy writes that "the United States should encourage international pressure," and "freeze individual bank accounts of key figures involved or responsible and seize assets in the United States" or "arrange for the proceeds of Venezuelan government-owned corporate entities to be held in escrow accounts." On the issue of military options he asserted that "While Chavez loyalists dominate the Venezuelan high command, it is not clear to what extent they control the middle ranks." This is a clear reference to U.S. intentions to bribe a fringe of the Venezuelan military.
In June, Robert Zoellick, then president of the World Bank said just before his resignation, "Chavez's days are numbered. If his subsidies to Cuba and Nicaragua are cut, those regimes will be in trouble." He referred to U.S. support for Capriles, who if elected plans to restore "favourable" relations with the United States and review assistance programs and alliances with the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean.
In addition, for the past several weeks in the United States, monopoly media such as Bloomberg, the Wall Street Journal, Fox News and the Miami Herald have been spreading disinformation by repeating the story that Capriles is gaining ground, that Chavez's days are numbered, that Chavez uses groups linked to the Bolivarian revolution to create an atmosphere of threats, terror and vandalism. They even accuse President Chavez of manipulating information in the media, while everyone knows that the majority of the print, television and radio media in Venezuela are in the opposition's hands.
Finally, scenarios to destabilize the country on the night of October 7 and the following days are being implemented, with the clear intent to overthrow President Chavez, in addition to the increasing acts of sabotage happening across the country. Most recently there has been the sabotage of wiring in electrical substations causing blackouts in Caracas and other regions.
This situation highlights why President Chavez so vigorously insists on the importance this election has for the future of the Bolivarian revolution and the Venezuelan nation. He called on Venezuelans to not permit a return to the situation of the 1980s, underscoring that a vote for his continued leadership of the Bolivarian revolution "is a vote for the youth, the future, security, stability and development."
1. The Great Patriotic Pole (Gran Polo Patriótico, GPP), includes the left-wing parties such as the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, Communist Party of Venezuela, the party Fatherland for All and social organizations and unions and comprises more than 34,000 organizing committees.
2. The Coalition for Democratic Unity (Mesa de la Unidad Democrática, MUD), is an alliance of right-wing parties opposed to the Bolivarian revolution and has close ties with the United States. It recently lost four smaller parties as members when a confidential document was released revealing the true neo-liberal agenda that its candidate Capriles, intends to pursue if elected President.