You are currently browsing the daily archive for May 1, 2013.

Nothing lasts forever, even where socialism is concerned.

About a month ago I wrote about the late Venezuelan autocrat, Hugo Chávez. His supporters saw him as a substitute for Christ. They had hoped to embalm his body to last forever.

In the event, his corpse was already too decayed for expert Russian and German scientists to preserve him ‘for eternity’.

A few weeks later — on April 15, 2013 — Venezuela’s acting president Nicholas Maduro, who served as Vice President to Chávez and had started his working career as a bus driver won the presidential election by a miniscule 1.5%.

Understandably, the opposition, whose candidate was Henrique Capriles, 41, contested the result. Even the Obama administration has called for an audit:

The US said that, “given the tightness of the result”, an audit of the election would be an “important, prudent and necessary step”.

“In our view rushing to a decision in these circumstances would be inconsistent with the expectations of Venezuelans for a clear and democratic outcome,” said Jay Carney, White House spokesman.

Venezuela’s election commission responded with a middle way:

Venezuela’s election authority said the results were “uncontestable”, but Vicente Díaz, the National Electoral Council director, said there would be a full audit of the vote, which is conducted with electronic machines, with each voter submitted to an electronic finger-print scan.

“Given the close electoral result and the fact that we live in a polariz[e]d country, I would like to request that 100% of the ballot boxes [b]e audited,” he said. Under the constitution, the result can be subject to a referendum in two years’ time.

According to Capriles — who ran against Chávez more than once — and his supporters, the reality of Venezuela has been experiencing

sharply rising inflation, spiraling murder rates, food shortages and, in provincial cities, increasingly frequent power cuts.

The attacks appeared to have hit home, with the Mr Capriles’s Justice First party narrowing the gap with the ruling Socialist Party to 1.5 per cent; Mr Capriles lost to Mr Maduro by just 235,000 votes compared to some 2m that was his margin of defeat to Mr Chavez.

To get a better idea of Maduro’s and Capriles’s voters, have a look at the Telegraph‘s pictures.

As to the recount, on April 25, the Telegraph reported that

A partial review of ballots has been planned, although a national election board has not indicated when that review would take place.

Violence in the immediate aftermath of the contested balloting led to at least nine deaths and scores of injured.

Both the government and Capriles have called massive street rallies for May 1.

There is also the matter of a mysterious American ‘agent’, Timothy Hallet Tracy, who was detained at Caracas airport as he prepared to leave the country last week. The same Telegraph article stated:

“Judging from the way this gentleman behaved, we presume that he belongs to some intelligence organization, because he is trained and he knows how to infiltrate, and how to handle sources and security information,” Interior Minister Miguel Rodriguez Torres said.

Authorities also accused the American of being linked to an organized protest effort here known by the name “Operation Sovereignty,” in which student demonstrators pressed for more information about the health of President Hugo Chavez prior to his death last month.

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