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The Flag of the World

-G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

This here blog is a glimpse or two or three at the condition of the 'fortress of our family' through the eyes Timothy Goddard, a Christian writer with an unhealthy interest in politics living in the Puget Sound area.

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Saturday, November 29, 2003

 

Meanwhile, in Venezuela
Between my country studies, schoolwork, and all that's been happening in both Iraq and US politics, I've been somewhat remiss in paying attention to various other countries that had my interest in time gone by--Venezuela, for example.

The halfway mark of Chavez's term has come, which means that, as Josh Chafetz noted in February, a recall not unlike the one in California can be held. And being held it is. The Devil's Excrement has been covering it very well, and Caracas Chronicles even has a rare new post up with good background and explanation.

The petition drive needs 2.4 million signatures in 96 hours. The last time this happened (back in February, when Chavez decided that it wouldn't count, despite my ridiculously naive prediction that he would "give up all hope and resign" ), 4.4 million signatures were garnered, well more than the number of votes any Venezuelan politician has ever received. They'll probably need about that many signatures this time, as Chavez has promised to challenge each and every one.

That, of course, is evidence that he knows he is done for. If he were truly confident of his popularity, then he would be a-ok with a recall election, assuming he could win it. That's more or less what Gray Davis did... which, if Chavez was paying attention, may be why he's acting the way he is.

The problem will come if, as the BBC article linked above suggests, Chavez loses, but then returns to run again in 2006. The opposition is only linked together in their dislike of Chavez, and the only way to neutralize the very real threat of a triumphant return in 2006 is to do two things. One, to actually make things better in Venezuela, which will be hard enough, and two, to stay on message for three years. The latter may be even harder than the former, as the only message the opposition holds in common is "no Chavez."

Some fracturing of the anti-Chavez coalition is unavoidable, but splintering would be fatal. If more than two or three anti-Chavez parties come out of this with some semblance of power, then Chavez has a very good chance of returning to office. The best situation would be if the opposition leaders engineer it so that only two emerge--one on the right and one on the left. But that would require an awful lot of people keeping their ambitions in check. I don't anticipate that happening. But in the short term, at least, this is all certainly good news.
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