Four hundred observers were on hand before and during the elections from the European Union, the Organization of American States and the electoral commissions of El Salvador, Colombia, Panama, Uruguay and Nicaragua.
They overwhelmingly certified the election process as fair and free from fraud, in keeping with the experience of several recent elections there. Days before the election, Chavez accused the Bush administration of engineering the boycott.
“I denounce it before the world and hold responsible for this new conspiracy against Venezuela the very chief of the empire, Mister Danger, the president of the United States,” he said. According to Vice-President Jose Vincent Rangel, “The U.S. Embassy has been very active, extremely active.” In fact, the National Endowment for Democracy, through its International Republican Institute, provided a yearlong course in electoral politics for 500 members of 11 opposition parties.
Venezuelan opposition groups are said to have received $20 million over five years from the U.S. government. To support the contention that Washington had a hand in the boycott, analysts cite the precedents of similar election boycotts in Nicaragua in 1994 and in Haiti in 2000.
On Dec. 1, thousands of Chavez supporters appeared before the National Assembly building to oppose the boycott. Signs and banners invoked the memory of the mass mobilization that returned Chavez to power in April 2002 after an attempted coup by the right wing.
One of the signs read, “We will turn Dec. 4 into April 13,” referring to the date of Chavez’s return to power. Chavez’s opponents tried to flex their muscle in other ways. Explosions were set off in Caracas and other Venezuelan cities before the elections, and a small blast in the west of the country damaged an oil pipeline.
The government mobilized an army force of 110,000 to protect polling places and public officials.
It just has that creepy "Big Brother" feel.
On the streets of our cities and on the far-flung battlefields.
Fighting against the mutilation of our hopes and dreams.
Who are they?
They are the dark armies.
The dark, murdering armies of Eurasia.
In the barren deserts of Africa and India...
on the oceans of Australasia...
courage, strength, and youth are sacrificed.
Sacrificed to barbarians, whose only honor is atrocity.
But even as we grasp at victory...
there is a cancer, an evil tumor...
growing, spreading in our midst.
shout out his name!