President Chavez with his new grandson, Jorge.
After the loss by a narrow margin of the referendum on the Constitutional Reform last Sunday, things are getting back to normal here in Venezuela. President Chavez's very graceful acceptance of the results has been an extraordinary showing of dignity and integrity to the world community, which had gotten used to calling him a dictator. Had the SI vote won by such a narrow margin, the opposition surely would have cried fraud and taken to the streets in violence. In fact, those scenarios were ready to go on Sunday, and the "guarimbas" (street violence & destabilization) was starting to begin that afternoon as the opposition prepared for a defeat. Believe me, the government and people were ready to defend themselves against the violence the extremist right-wing opposition had prepared for Sunday night, but Chavez made the right decision. He even admitted that had his reform won by a slight margin, he would't have accepted it. He would rather have peace in the country than a reform approved by a slim majority. What other head of state in the world would act in such a dignified, mature way??? Probably none. Certainly not Bush in the US who has won all his elections by narrow, questionable margins. Anyway, now is time to reflect on the elections, the campaign, the proposed reform, and analyze where errors were made and what can be improved.
The opposition here is still trying to say fraud was committed even though they won. They are beyond ridiculous. Extremists from the Un Nuevo Tiempo party are trying to claim the government committed fraud because the opposition exit polls and quick counts done by Sumate - a group funded by the USAID and NED - shows the opposition winning by 8 points instead of the 1.5 points that the official results show. So, when they lose, they cry fraud, and when they win, well, they also cry fraud. I think that Chavez's democratic credentials stand much stronger today than any member of the so-called opposition.
Be alert to happenings in Bolivia. Looks like the opposition there is heating up the streets and trying to overthrow Evo Morales' government. Tonight, Evo called for a recall referendum on his own presidency and that of the country's governors, most of whom are opposition. If that initiative takes place, things could get really ugly there. I may take a trip there soon to check out the scene and document some of the US intervention that is contributing to the destabilization of Evo's government.
It's December in Venezuela and Christmas is coming! The streets are full of decorations and lights and the traffic is unbearable. People are out spending their end-of-the-year bonuses and demonstrating that Venezuela is still as capitalist as ever, despite the opposition's constant whining about the imposition of a "castro-communist" state.