February 4, 2009

Chavismo's Amazing Self-Refuting Referendum Argument

Quico says: So we've all heard it again and again and then again some more: getting rid of term limits is not the same thing as "indefinite reelection" because, ultimately, Chávez will still have to face the voters. Don't let them manipulate you: voting "Sí" doesn't mean voting for a single man to stay in power forever. Every single Venezuelan will have a fair chance to challenge him for the presidency every six years.

That's their story, and they're sticking to it. Relentlessly. On 11 state owned TV channels and hundreds upon hundreds of radio stations, round the clock, you're bombarded with it: "Vote Sí, because elections will still be fair!" Plastered on every ministry, every PSUV controlled state or local office, the signs are all around you: "Vote Sí, because the people have a right to choose!" Hundreds of thousands of public servants from PDVSA and Ipostel to the Armed Forces and every last recondite little corner of the bureaucracy, all fully mobilized (when not openly coerced) to participate in rallies designed to drum in one simple message: "Vote the way you're told, because there's no ventajismo here!" They'll even pipe it into the Metro during your morning commute, just to make sure you don't miss it.

I heard a tiny-but-telling story the other day. Apparently, these days, if you have any business to do at PDVSA and you park your car in one of its parking lots, when you come out you find "Sí"s scribbled in big letters with white markers on your car windows. Nobody asks your permission to do this: whether you like it or not, you drive out of there turned into a big rolling ad that screams out "Vote Sí, because this government wouldn't dream of abusing its control of petrostate resources to try to swing an election!"

The government's argument doesn't need people like me to refute it. It refutes itself.

Do you have an anecdote on the use of state resources to aid the Sí campaign? An observation, or possibly a photo? I'm collecting these for future use. If you've got one, please do share it through the comments section or via email to caracaschronicles at fastmail dot fm. Thank you!

Update: Within minutes of writing that plea for materials, a reader in Zulia sent this flyer in, picked up off a desk inside PDVSA.

(Highlighting added by me.)