imc activists | 16.08.2004 11:46 | Venezuela
The opposition has not yet made any move against the government or the popular assemblies, tensions have largely relaxed, and it appears that the crisis has passed [full report in the article].
Venezuelan social movements have put President Chavez on notice that their support for him during the referendum does not mean that they see his presidency as an end in itself; rather, his presidency should protect the grassroots from Venezuela's ruling elites so that the reach of directly democratic neighbourhood assemblies can be extended. "While Chavez has done some to improve the lives of the poor in Venezuela, the revolution can only advance when the people themselves seize control of all the resources and means of production owed to them." Further information and timeline in the article and in the Venzuela special subsection.
El Universal is now reporting that Maritza Ron has survived, and is listing the injured at eight. Grassroots movements in Caracas are accusing the head of the Organization of American States (OAS) electoral observers, former Colombian President Cesar Gaviria, of working with the oligarchic opposition to whittle down the declared margin of victory for popular forces, something also reported by Justin Podur, an observer in Caracas. Chavez supporters are firmly maintaining the legitimacy of the results: [ 1 ] [2 ]
Update 15:44 Caracas 8:44 BST
The right-wing opposition is claiming that "Chavez supporters" opened fire on their demonstration in the Plaza de Francia de Miraflores, Caracas. Original reports confirmed one death, that of Maritza Ron, 61 years of age, and several injuries. It is not yet clear whether these were in fact Chavez supporters - the Venezuelan opposition has had a history of faking attacks on demonstrations: [ 1 ] [2 ][ 3 ][ video ] Update: 14:31 Caracas 19:31 BST
Election observers from the Carter Center and the Organization of American States have officially accepted the results of the referendum, stating that "observers have not found any element of fraud in the process." However, the right-wing opposition still maintains that massive voting fraud has taken place and is calling for a rally in the middle of Caracas.
4:03 Caracas 9:03 BST
Controversial left-wing president Hugo Chavez has defeated his opponents electorally in a referendum called to remove him from power. The Venezuelan National Electoral Commission (CNE) announced the preliminary result at 4:03AM in Caracas: Chavez gained 58% of votes cast. This total is expected to rise by a few percentage points as votes come in from poorer rural areas.
Although there has been no negative comment about the conduct of the election from either the US-based Carter Centre or Organization of American States election monitors, the country's elites "categorically reject the results." Hundreds of thousands of people are partying in the streets while waiting to see what the anti-popular forces will do next.