November 19, 2006


Setbacks for Venezuela's Leader Embolden a Vigorous Opponent: Chávez Projected to Win Reelection, but Concern About Margin Evident (Juan Forero, 11/19/06, Washington Post)

At opposition rallies, loudspeakers on trucks blare the message "Dare to," as in dare to vote against Chávez and his party, the Fifth Republic Movement. Thousands have flooded streets for anti-government marches and rallies, a reminder of the multitudes who emerged in 2002, when the opposition movement reached its peak before its long, hard fall.

"We are united, and we are sure we're going to win," said Henry Parras, an engineer dressed in the three colors of the Venezuelan flag during a recent protest that brought tens of thousands into the streets of this gritty capital.

"There are so many people, no exaggeration," he said, waving his arms as fellow government foes blew whistles and shouted for Chávez to leave office. "Just look at it. This is the reality. Just look at it."

Disparate factions, from former guerrillas to industrialists to right-wing radicals who had once advocated a boycott of the election, have coalesced behind Manuel Rosales, a wiry pit bull of a candidate who does not mince words when calling for a change in government.

In most polls, Rosales trails Chávez by at least 20 points. Nonetheless, some polls show him with the support of more than 30 percent of the electorate, up from just 9 percent in August. Political analysts attribute the surge to Rosales's constant criticism that Chávez, in buying Argentine bonds and providing aid to Africa and El Salvador, has wasted the country's oil revenue while ignoring festering problems at home.

"We see him as a failed government," Rosales said in an interview at his headquarters in an elegant neighborhood of Caracas. "No one understands how the government is giving away Venezuela's riches, as part of a political and ideological strategy, when there are bad services, a bad health system, a bad education system, bad policies for housing construction." [...]

Polls show Venezuelans are worried about crime, unemployment and inflation, which rose to a one-year high of 15.5 percent in October, not about an invasion from the north.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 19, 2006 10:38 PM

When was the last time we invaded Venezuela?

Posted by: erp at November 20, 2006 8:19 AM

Remember, last time Hugo switched the algorithm of the voting machines, giving him the opposition vote.

Posted by: ratbert at November 20, 2006 12:43 PM