Venezuela: Ten years of revolution celebrated

Issue 

On February 2, President Hugo Chavez led the celebration of 10 years of his time in office with a caravan and mass rally in the Caracas.

The rallies occurred as the campaign over a national referendum on whether or not to remove term limits for elected officials continued to escalate.

While, sizeable rallies in support of a "yes" vote, which pollsters associated with both the government and opposition, indicate has majority support, there have not yet been any mass demonstrations led by the "no" campaign.

However, there have been a series of smaller actions, some of which have used violence designed to provoke a reaction from both the state authorities and the more radical wing of the Chavistas. These have included physically attacking security forces and even deliberately setting fires in a national park.

The most controversial incident, however, has been the desecration of the main Jewish synagogue in Caracas, occurring after the diplomatic rupture between Venezuela and Israel over Israel's war on Gaza.

Despite the condemnation of the attack by the Venezuelan government and its promise to bring the perpetrators to justice, it has been used by the opposition and corporate media, as well as the Israeli and US governments, to prove the alleged anti-Semitism of the government.

This is part of a domestic and international media blitz on behalf of the "no" campaign that has focused on the themes of government repression of students, food shortages (which seem to reappear every election) and other daily problems such as crime.

This is helping to ensure that, despite the majority indicated by polls for "yes", the result of the referendum looks set to be close. The director of polling company Datanalysis, Luis Vicente Leon, has argued: "The result will depend, in large part, on which side can best mobilise its supporters on the day of the election".