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I will observe the 2006 Venezuelan presidential elections with the Bolivarian Circle of Boston.

Friday, December 01, 2006


We started Thursday morning with breakfast with Greg Wilpert, editor of He provided us with an overview of factors that led to Hugo Chavez's rise to power in Venezuela. Polls put Chavez's support at about 60 percent in Sunday's presidential election, with the main opposition candidate trailed significantly at about 30 percent. Chavez speaks of a twenty-first century socialism for Venezuela, but it is still not entirely clear what that transition may look like or what all might be involved in this socialist model. There are significant changes underway, though, including a dramatic growth in the cooperative sector. Problems that the country faces include attempting to break out of a culture of patronage, clientalism, and corruption. Wilpert described Chavez as a latent personality cult, and the struggle to build a broader popular movement that would survive beyond the actions of one person.

We then got on our bus to leave Caracas for Barquisimeto where we will observe Sunday's election. Along the way, we made a stop in Maracay to observe the closure of Chavez's campaign in that town. As with all of his campaign stops, there was a sea of red with energetic shouts that Chavez is here to stay. After nightfall, we arrived in Barquisimeto at our Hotel Circulo Militar.
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