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Thu Dec 17, 2015, 01:08 AM

Assessing Venezuela’s Elections: The Good, the Bad, and the Indifferent

Assessing Venezuela’s Elections: The Good, the Bad, and the Indifferent
December 15, 2015

by Eric Draitser

The streets of Caracas were eerily quiet late Sunday evening (December 6) as the city, and indeed the whole of Venezuela, anxiously awaited the results of the critical legislative elections. Everyone knew the vote would be close: the polls had indicated as much in the weeks leading up to the elections, with many experts predicting a victory for the right wing opposition party Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD).

Traveling throughout the capital, and especially in the poor and working class neighborhoods, however, the mood was optimistic, with most Chavistas fully expecting to carry the day and maintain their control of the National Assembly. In the 23 January neighborhood, a stronghold of the ruling Socialist Party (PSUV) and a hotbed of radical activism and resistance, local party and community leaders were upbeat as they showed me around, pointing out the gains made in the years of Chavista rule: every house now having a cooking gas connection, improved sewage systems, guaranteed government pensions, low-cost government housing, among many other tangible gains.

In El Valle, another solidly red working class district, I visited two of the many punto rojos (red points) – Socialist Party tents manned by volunteers who helped organize voter turnout for their respective neighborhoods – where the mood was festive, something between a block party and a local community meeting. The punto rojos, interestingly enough, were almost always opposite from MUD tents (a recent phenomenon as the right wing opposition has adopted the PSUV organizing strategy), and all was peaceful and quiet, no confrontations to be seen. Indeed, it seemed everywhere I went that these elections were a model of a peaceful democratic process, precisely what Venezuela’s government has long prided itself on, and precisely what the western media has always denied.

After having met with a number of community leaders, including PSUV candidate Jesús Faría who welcomed me with a handshake and a hug, thanking me for coming to his country to watch democracy in action, I went (along with my delegation from the US) to Tiuna el Fuerte, a cultural center and communal outdoor meeting space financially supported by the Venezuelan government. With intricate graffiti murals adorning the walls of shipping containers transformed into living quarters, computer labs, and other important resources, Tiuna el Fuerte looked like something out of hipster Brooklyn or Oakland, a meeting space where hip hop and reggae music blared from the speakers, and sancocho (a traditional soup dish) was ladled into bowls for anyone who wanted it.

More:
http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/12/15/assessing-venezuelas-elections-the-good-the-bad-and-the-indifferent/

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