There were a whole lot of them.
Supporters in t-shirts with ``YES!'' written across the chest danced in the streets in downtown Caracas at today's event, in images broadcast live by state television.
``This is going to be another victory for the Venezuelan people,'' Finance Minister Rodrigo Cabezas said today on state television. ``A victory for the `Yes' vote is a victory for this process of change.''
Chavez says if the reform is approved, large states and monopoly will be banned in Venezuela, and the possibility of changes will be opened for the political-administrative structure, so as to secure a more egalitarian development of the country"s different regions.
The government has sent out a clear message that anybody out to sabotage the final run-up to Sunday's constitutional reform referendum -- as President Hugo Chavez claimed violent opposition groups were planning -- was nothing less than anti-democratic.
More than 100,000 marchers flooded the streets of Caracas yesterday to protest against the proposed constitutional changes that they say would dramatically widen the powers of President Hugo Chavez.
The latest surveys suggest the result of Sunday's referendum will be extremely close.
Tension in Venezuela is described as sharper than at any time since the attempted coup of 2002. The Catholic bishops, for example, issued a statement Monday describing the reforms as “morally unacceptable.”
On Monday, the political violence by right-wing opponents of the left-nationalist government of President Hugo Chavez claimed the life of Jose Oliveros, a 19-year-old oil worker, who was shot in the back by opponents of the constitutional reform while heading for work at a state-owned firm in the central state of Aragua. When he attempted to drive down a street blocked by protesters, he was shot and killed.
The World Socialist Web Site writes in analysis:
"...leading the campaign against the reform are the political forces tied to Venezuela’s wealthy oligarchy, backed by Washington, the same forces that sought to overthrow Chavez in the abortive US-supported coup April 2002 and which have since staged a series of political provocations."
Egged on by Venezuela’s privately owned right-wing media, the “no” campaign has generated an atmosphere of hysteria over the referendum, managing to mobilize demonstrations drawn largely from the most privileged sections of middle and upper class students."
reforms include promises to implement a six-hour workday and the establishment of a supplementary health insurance program for the millions of Venezuelans—up to half the population—who are classified as part of the “informal” sector of the economy, without any regular employment. Making these programs into articles in the constitution, however, does not create them beyond the level of a legal principle."
"The reality is that the changes advanced for Venezuela’s constitution have nothing to do with putting an end to capitalism or establishing a socialist society, and the dangers that the various amendments proposed by the government pose to the working class are far greater than any promised benefits."
The essential thrust of the reforms is the amassing of greater presidential power in the hands of Chavez, furthering the consolidation of a personalist bourgeois regime resting on both the military and populist appeals to the poorest sections of the population, made possible by oil export-funded social programs."
...While much has been made about the left and even “socialist” rhetoric that suffuses the proposed amendments, the reality is that the rewritten constitution includes explicit guarantees for the private capitalist ownership of the means of production. It also enshrines the status of “mixed” private-state enterprises, which exist most prominently in the deals signed between the Venezuelan government and the foreign energy conglomerates for the exploitation of Venezuelan oil. Other clauses in the existing constitution guaranteeing equal treatment for foreign and national capitalist enterprises, patents and intellectual property rights remain untouched."
Defeating the right-wing forces behind the “no” campaign over the present referendum and as well as the very real threat of a US-backed coup that would unleash a wave of savage repression can be achieved only through the independent struggle of the Venezuelan workers and oppressed."
This requires the building of a new, independent revolutionary party fighting for the political mobilization of working people in Venezuela as part of an international struggle to put an end to capitalism."
I picked up the following report off the blog known as Renegade Eye.
Eyewitness report from Caracas march - the people have spoken
Posted on November 30, 2007 by hovreferendum
“It is only Friday evening and the results of Sunday’s referendum are already known. There has been no formal vote in a bourgeois sense and neither has the resut been fiddled, although there is no doubt that the media in the UK, along with the media internationally, will say after the result that there has been a fiddle.
Here the people have spoken in the language of the street. From 10 in the morning they began to fill the Avenida Bolivar and the side streets. And they kept on coming into the afternoon and were still arriving when Chavez was driven down the Avenida on the back of a truck. Even as he was arriving there were people leaving and others replacing them. The Avenida was packed tightly, as were the side streets. I walked the distance from the underpass bridge next to the Hotel Anauco right the way down to the end of the Avenue where the platform had been erected for the speeches. It took me an hour, so densely packed were the numbers of people.
Not people on their own, whole families. It was a carnival to celebrate victory in the referendum. Stands selling food, drinks, caps, Tshirts, posters, badges, scarves, all manner of things to celebrate Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution. The smell of sizzling meat drifted over the crowd and empty beer cans were crushed under foot. The atmosphere was one of everyone having a great day out in the sunshine, and wasn’t it hot.
Large platforms were interspersed at distances so that the music from one did not interfere with the other. People listened, clapped, danced and enjoyed themselves.
Compare this to the opposition march yesterday. There the air was filled with hate, with gestures and shouts to get the onlookers like myself to join in - and very few did. Yes, they had quite a good turnout, but today was at least twice as big. It wasn’t so much a sea of red. The whole avenue and side streets looked as if they had been painted red! There were masses.
The size of this demonstration, no it was more of an open air assembly, was a joy to see. The Chavista forces did not march from anywhere to the Avenida. They just turned up as if they already knew that they had nothing to prove. They did not have to march the streets to declare that they were there. They just arrived and assembled ready for a Sunday, rest day out, except that this was a Friday, a working day, but no-one cared. They saw it as their right and duty to come and support Chavez.
So what will be the effect of this turnout? The opposition will obviously be dismayed. They will realise that despite all of the lies and smears that they have peddled, the support for Chavez has held up. So expect from them either activities to disrupt the vote on Sunday (the CIA are advocating that opposition supporters turn up to vote and do not leave the venue of the vote, thereby effectively staging a sit in and preventing others from entering and voting) or mei smears to start before the vote and go on aterwards that the results are suspicious and questionable, if not fiddled.
For the Chavista forces there is a danger. The celebrations might make them think that they have won already and that therefore there is no need to vote. Abstention is a big fear. So the push now must be for a massive vote on Sunday, a massive turnout so that the result is in no doubt and Chavez has a real mandate for the constitutional changes.
When Chavez arrived the assembled throng went wild in their cheering. He embodies all of the improvements that they have seen in their daily lives over the past nine years. When he spoke, he made sure that all understood the gravity of the situation. The CIA Operacion Tenazas (Operation Pliers) has been taken very seriously here. Measures are being taken to prevent the vote being disrupted. Tomorrow all the oil fields will be taken over by the Armed Forces, they will be militarised. The Navy and Air Force have been put on high alert to patrol the coast to watch for any signs of an impending invasion. The USA has been warned that any threatening behaviour on their part will result in the immediate suspension of all oil shipments to the USA.
The chips are down nationally and internationally. Let us see the developments tomorrow, the day before the referendum. What reports will emerge and what internal and external threats against Chavez will be made.”
For now that is all.
30 NOvember 2007