(continuing from yesterday´s post on the referendum day)
Since Chavez and the Bolivarian revolution have an impact beyond Venezuela and well into all countries in South America and beyond, since a revolution for economic justice and equity anywhere impacts revolutions for postive social change everywhere, and since the referendum yesterday (for all its faults) was not only a referendum to remove the two term limit for president but, in a way, a referendum for support of this current government (although one can definitely support the current Venezuelan government and oppose the referendum, but not vice’versa), I was thus quite nervous all day yesterday. I first heard that the SI (yes) vote was winning by 5 percent, and then I heard it was winning by 10 percent, but it wasn´t until an hour after closing of the voting centers, that I heard several rumours that the SI vote had won.
We proceeded to the CNE headquarters (the headquarters of the Electoral Power). In a large room, with hundreds of media, there were chairs designated for us – the international observers – in the right-front of the room. The CNE arrived. Calmly and seriously read the results of this ¨perfect day¨ . As of 9.32 pm, 94.2% of the votes had been counted. 2200 voting centers had yet to turn in their votes. For the SI, 6,000,354 votes. 54.36%. Applause was heard from the back of the room. For the NO, 5,00,400 votes. 45.63%. Again, applause was heard from the back of the room. Approximately 200,000 votes were void. 11,466,000 votes total. 32% abstention from the registered voting population. Now, the applause was loud. We, the international observers, stood up in applause too ‘– applauding the strong turn out, applauding the ease of the election day, and, perhaps for many of us, unofficially applauding the results. Loud, quite loud, fireworks began in earnest then.
I felt such joy.
Let me stop and say something here: on the issue of impartiality and objectivity. There is a common perception that for one to be professional, one has to also be indifferent to the results. So, in other words, myself, as an accredited international observer, should not feel joy or sadness regardless of the results, but should limit my emotions to the proceedings of the election day. here, i disagree. we do have a perspective. we do have an ideological slant. i do have an ideological slant. and, my joy at the victory of the SI did not and does not impact how I saw the proceedings themselves. We all noted the problem of the void in the machines (by clicking too quickly on the machine, the voter can accidently produce a null vote. it is illegal to take the vote again, even in event of error. ironically, as we read in, the papers today, there is one governor who is accused of taking the vote again, and sadly, he is probably of Lebanese origin (ayyyy))
going back to yesterday´s event.
we – the international observers – returned to the hotel. i took off all my official identification (the vest and badge) and, with the help of a few others, organized a small group of people to join in the celebrations.
ah, the celebrations.
it felt like lebanon. the noise. the support. the crowd. the beeping in the streets. the banners.
and, walking amidst thousands of joyous people, each celebrating the SI, each celebrating the revolution, I saw a Lebanese flag in the distance. I rushed to that center – as quickly as one can rush in a crowd — and when i spoke to the two men in arabic, they responded in spanish that their grandfather was lebanese (from the beyrouti family or from beirut, i wasn´t sure which).
a bit later, i was introduced to a venezuelan musician ‘ who has just produced a song about Palestine and who spoke to me about solidarity with Palestine.
as he said to me, and as the television crew that interviewd me earlier that day said to me, we are in solidarity.
what a beautiful word.
i was on the edge of tears during the celebration in the streets.
… must go now to more meetings.