Venezuela: Popular mobilisation for "yes" vote


At a rally of tens of thousands in Plaza Caracas on January 23, President Hugo Chavez called on Venezuelan workers to mobilise for the electoral battle for the "Yes" campaign for a vote in the February 15 referendum in favour of a constitutional amendment to abolish the two-term limit on elected positions in Venezuela.

"Each committee must be leading the campaign to the people", Chavez stated, according to the January 24 Diario Vea.

"But nobody should invent strange strategies. Here there is only one leadership command; disciplined, with happiness and unity, we have advanced and we will keep advancing ..."

The rally followed a big march of workers, organised by unions and other organisations, several kilometres to Plaza Caracas in the centre of the city.

The marchers wore the red T-shirts of the Chavista movement, with countless slogans and names of popular organisations on them, and banners proclaiming support for the "Yes" campaign to allow Chavez to stand for re-election in 2012 in order to continue his role in leading the Bolivarian government's project toward "socialism of the 21st century".

The vote, set for February 15, also removes the two-term limit on elections to other public positions, such as governors and mayors.

Earlier that day, Chavez addressed a mass rally in the historic Barrio 23 Enero, marking the 51st anniversary of the fall of the Venezuelan dictator Perez Jimenez in 1958. He told the crowd, "The force should be in the street", the January 24 Ultimas Noticias reported.

The "Yes" campaign has distributed huge numbers of leaflets in the communities refuting the main arguments in support of a "no" vote promoted by the US-funded right-wing opposition.

Supporters of a "yes" case points out that no limits on re-election is normal internationally, and exists in many European and other countries around the world. The "Yes" campaign also explains that the charge that Chavez is attempting to turn himself a dictator-for-life is absurd, as the proposal merely allows him to stand again for popular election, subject to the will of the people.

Almost daily rallies and meetings are being held by supporters of the "Yes" campaign around the country. On January 21, thousands of students marched from the Bolivarian University of Venezuela (UBV) to Plaza O'Leary in the center of Caracas.

Addressing the rally there, education minister Luis Acuna said, "Chavez has been a fundamental point of support for the advances that we have made in education in the last 10 years, with regard to inclusion, infrastructure and benefits for the university sector that are incalculable", the January 22 Diario Vea reported.

Hector Rodriguez, co-ordinator of the Front of Youth of PSUV [the United Socialist Party of Venezuela], told the rally that, "This march is just the beginning of actions that Venezuelan youth and the students of our country are going to take to demonstrate that 'Yes' is the majority view of Venezuelan students."

The students were also mobilising against the violent provocations by right-wing opposition students from private universities in the week before.

The acceleration of the "Yes" campaign coincides with a new opinion poll by the independent Venezuelan Institute for Analysis of Data (IVAD), showing that 54% of the population supported a "yes" vote, compared to 46% for "no".

Commenting on the figures, communications minister Jesse Chacon noted that acceptance of the constitutional proposal had in fact increased markedly from a minority of only 44.4% for the "yes", and 47.3% for the "no" in December.