The opposition was commemorating that black day 14 years ago on February 4th. 1992,, when Hugo Chavez and his cronies staged a bloody and unsuccesful coup that changed the history of the country for the worst. I am still not sure what it was that Chavez and his MVR were celebrating, it seems hypocritical to celebrate his coup given how hypercritical Chavez and other Government officials are of the supposedly daily coups the oppositon is attempting. But Government officials kept saying their march was a “reaffirmation” of democracy, which is simply contradictory, democracy’s day in Venezuela was January 23d. when in 1958, truly democratic forces ousted General Marcos Perez Jimenes and Venezuela became a democracy for 40 years. We now only have only vestiges of that democarcy as the last few years have proven. And Chavismo was celebrating the anniversary of that bloody coup,when 173 people died because of the power aspirations of our current autocrat and his friends, but they are all forgotten today. I could not help but cringe at ads like this which appeared in today’s paper and which shamelessly celebrated that fateful day:
The two marches were fortunately separated by quite a large space. However, they were also quite different in style and spirit. The Chavista march had lots of people, after all, all Government workers, two million plus of them were ordered to attend under threat of firing. The highway that took people from the West of the country to the starting point of their march ran right along the opposition march. While I was waiting for our march to start I took some pictures of the buses, most of them private, paid by the Government to bring people in to their march (Many of the people also get paid extra to attend). It is not easy to take these pictures because of the shutter delay of digital cameras. But in the first ten minutes, I managed to take some twenty pictures of buses that could be easily distinguished by the red flags, the brand new red t-shirts (ten million votes!)and the white writing outside the buses. Some were actually Government buses illegally being used for political purposes. (In the awful years of the IVth. Republic, somepeople wnet to jail or exile for using public vehicles for political use, but this is the “pretty” revolution)
As our march moved along I would take a picture of a bus everytime I was ready for it. But there were so many of them that it happened regularly, despite the fact that both marches were supposed to take place at the same time. By the end of our march I had taken pictures of 85 different buses paid by money needed for other purposes, but in what has become the norm in this Government, most of the money is used at will to promote Chavez and his silly revolution to no end. If I leisurely managed to take pictures of 85 different buses, on one highway, late in the day in terms of the march, iamgine how many hundreds of them were brought in to guarantee the “success” of Chavez’ event. This is about the only thing these guys can organize well.It is a one time event, not a sustained an organized effort.Below a collage with the 85 pictures I took.
In fact, everywhere you went in Caracas today, even as the Chavista march was going on, you would see red shirts all over the city, as the less hardcore takes advantage of the ride to do some sightseeing around Caracas, or as was the case right outside a Restaurant in Bello Campo where I saw some two dozen red-shirted Chavistas exiting after a well deserved meal. These people are what is typically called “Chavista light”, but when I saw them they were heavier from the food and light-headed from the drinking.
Our own march was quite unique. It was big, more so given the bad publicity and the fact that only one group led by Oscar Perez invited to it. You can see a picture of the march above left. On the right a very fiery lady from ABP (Alianza Bravo Pueblo) who was being interviewed by Globovision on the overpass as I went by. I have no idea who she is, but she was fiery, eloquent and articulate. She can have my vote for any position she wants, including President. More pictures here.
But our problem continues to be the same. None of the “leading” candidates were there. People went on their own, in disorganized fashion. But there were lots of them. Thus, we remain a heterogenous group in search of a leader, but nobody wants to assume that role. Where was Primero Justicia? William Ojeda? Petkoff? etc? I have no clue where they were and I have no clue what it is they are thinking. But time is running and they do not seem to be taken advantage of this leaderless opposition.
The march was a little more joyful than last time, but there was the same anger I described then. People are mad, wondering how long this can go on or will go on. Publicity is bad, there is no money for these events to the point that the same stage as in Jan. 23d. was used. But people show up in droves and that should send a message to someone, no?
(More pictures of buses for the Chavista march in Noticiero Digital)