Monday, 17 December 2007

John Pilger- Keeping the Record Straight on Venezuela

Keeping the Record Straight on Venezuela

The book of which I am most proud is Tell Me No Lies: Investigative Journalism and its Triumphs. It was a long-held ambition of mine to bring together the work of those I considered the greatest journalists of my lifetime: the "honourable exceptions" of my craft. In paying tribute to them, I wanted to demonstrate to young journalists a calibre of truth-telling to which they might aspire. There is the reporting of Martha Gellhorn, Edward R Murrow, James Cameron, Seymour Hersh, Paul Foot, Robert Fisk, Jessica Mitford and the Guardian's Seumas Milne and Richard Norton-Taylor among others.

In celebrating those who kept and continue to keep the record straight - the basis of all good journalism - I also recognise the need to identify the example of those at the other end of the spectrum, whose work is hardly journalism at all, but who possess the power of exposure in the so-called mainstream media.

On March 28 2006 I described here a report broadcast on Channel 4 News the previous night by its Washington correspondent, Jonathan Rugman. Rugman is pretty typical of television's Washington correspondents; he reports as if embedded, when, in fact, his work is voluntary. What distinguishes him is his reporting from Venezuela. Rugman's brief visit last year to Caracas, the capital of Venezuela, produced what I described here as "one of the worst, most distorted pieces of journalism I have ever seen qualifying as crude propaganda". This was a piece, I wrote, "which might as well have been written by the US state department". For example, he described Maria Corina Machado as a "human rights activist". In fact, she was a leader of Sumate, an extreme rightwing organisation, who had been welcomed to the White House by George Bush himself. He caricatured Hugo Chávez as a buffoon dictator. In fact, he is an authentic product of a popular political movement that began in 1989 who has won more democratic elections than any leader on earth. Rugman reported that Chávez was helping Iran develop a nuclear weapon. In fact, this is laughable - see the US National Intelligence Estimate report published on December 3 2007. At the end of his performance, Rugman complained dramatically to the camera that he had been "held for 30 hours" by police in Caracas. In fact, he had walked into a military base and, surprise, surprise, was apprehended - as he would be on any Ministry of Defence establishment in Britain - and Venezuela is a country whose president two years earlier had been temporarily overthrown in a military coup. In fact, Chávez himself arranged for Rugman's speedy release. Rugman's "report" was so absurd that Channel 4 News, which maintains a reputation, was inundated with complaints and, as I was told, "embarrassed" - though not embarrassed enough to desist from sending Rugman back to Venezuela for yesterday's important constitutional referendum.

Chávez narrowly lost the referendum. His government wanted to change a number of articles in the Venezuelan constitution that would define what he has called "socialism for the 21st century", including allowing the president to stand in unlimited elections (which leaders in Britain, Canada, Australia and many other countries can do). But many of his own supporters were unconvinced and probably confused as to why they were being called upon to vote yet again, and 3 million of them abstained.

Ironically, the result actually reaffirmed the health of democracy in Venezuela and served to ridicule the incessant media propaganda that Chávez was a "dictator" and a "tyrant". In a gracious speech conceding defeat, Chávez congratulated the opposition and invited them to celebrate. His tone was the antithesis of the media-led campaign. On the eve of the referendum, closeted with Venezuela's rich minority, Jonathan Rugman allowed them to call Chávez a communist, which he isn't. "It's as bad that?" he contributed.

Presenting these people as victims, he said nothing about their history of rapacious privilege or that their wealth was actually increasing under Chávez. He allowed, unsubstantiated, histrionics such as, "There are Chávez supporters [who] will kill me." His clever cameraperson filmed soldiers from the boots up at polling stations - soldiers who, according to Rugman, instead of saluting cry out "for the fatherland and socialism". That they were guarding an election process internationally recognised and commended was not mentioned, neither was the fact that opposition monitors had announced they were pleased with the conduct of the election. For a spot of "balance", he toured what he called the "slums" and found "rubbish in the streets" and milk missing from otherwise abundantly stocked supermarkets. His script was crudely juxtaposed with images showing a screaming child being given an injection over which Rugman commented that "this is how Chávez is injecting his vast oil wealth just where it's needed most". "Chávez loyalists," said Rugman, "will control parliament." Imagine Channel 4 News describing Labour's electoral majority in the Commons as "Labour's loyalists control parliament."

He diminished or ignored the majority of the proposed constitutional changes including those that would reduce the working week from 44 hours to 36 hours; extend social security benefits to 5 million Venezuelans who work in the "informal economy" - street vendors and the like; end discrimination on the basis of gender - unprecedented in Latin America; lower the minimum voting age from 18 to 16, also unprecedented; and recognise Venezuela's African-Venezuelan heritage and multiculturalism as a step towards ending the rampant racism practised by a wealthy elite reminiscent of white South Africa under apartheid.

With the referendum results announced, Rugman rejoiced with a crowd of the well-off in Caracas. He declared that "the air is seeping out of the socialist revolution". Disgracefully, he reported that "[the opposition] feared that [Chávez] would rig the ballots against them" - when the opposite was both true and confirmed.

Propaganda such as this is an accurate reflection of the Venezuela media, which is overwhelmingly anti-Chávez and pro-Washington and was complicit in the lawless 2002 coup. As one of the coup plotters said, "Our secret weapon was the media." Dressed as journalism, it seeks not to inform, but to discredit - in this case, demonstrably one of the most original and imaginative and hopeful democratic experiments in the world. In doing so, it blocks real debate on issues such as those that led Chávez supporters to abstain and a definition of Venezuela's proclaimed "socialism" as well as the natural tension between the state and the grass roots. It is the same propaganda that has closed down debate elsewhere and helped to see off Allende in Chile, the Sandinistas in Nicaragua and Astride in Haiti, not to mention a long list of those on other continents who have tried to raise their people out of poverty and despair. This is journalism as the agency of power, not people, unrelated in all ways to the craft of a Gellhorn, a Cameron, a Murrow, a Hersh.

Friday, 14 December 2007

After the Referendum- views from activists

There follows a list of quotes translated from the original Spanish from Venezuelan politicians and activists discussing the recent referendum.- Hat tip, Lenin's Tomb.

In 2006, President Chávez won the presidential elections with 62 per cent of the vote, obtaining the support of 7,309,000 people. A year later, the president’s Constitutional Reform only received 4,380,000 votes in favour, which allows the simple observation that some 3 million people who voted for President Chávez in 2006 decided not to vote for his Constitutional Reform proposal.

In contrast, in 2006, Chávez’s closest competitor, the opposition candidate Manuel Rosales, obtained 4,292,000 votes. In 2007, those who were opposed to the reform numbered 4,504,000 - two hundred thousand more people than had voted for the opposition in 2006.

En 2006, el Presidente Chávez ganó las elecciones presidenciales con un 62 por ciento de los votos, obteniendo el apoyo de 7.309.000 personas. Un año después, la Reforma Constitucional del Presidente Chávez sólo logró 4.380.000 votos a favor, lo que a simple vista denota que unas 3 millones de personas que habían votado por el Presidente Chávez en 2006 decidieron no votar por su propuesta de Reforma Constitucional.

En contraste, en 2006 el más cercano competidor de Chávez, el opositor Manuel Rosales, obtuvo 4.292.000 votos. En 2007, quienes se opusieron a su propuesta de Reforma fueron 4.504.000 personas, doscientas mil personas más que quienes votaron por la oposición en 2006.

What is to be done? To leave this situation and ensure that the revolutionary process overcomes this moment and can deepen, it is essential that all power should pass to the people and their organisations.

The Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela (PSUV) congress should become a more democratic organisation where all could think, propose, criticise and decide the best course for the Bolivarian revolution, without the restrictions or bureaucratic interference that prevents free discussion.

We have immense confidence that hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans will continue advancing the socialist project, and will confront on this road any attacks the right may try to make. But this confidence must be accompanied by unity and organisation, and the construction of a space to debate all these themes.

¿Qué se va hacer? Para salir de esta situación y que el proceso revolucionario supere este momento y pueda profundizarse, verdaderamente todo el poder debe pasar al pueblo y a sus organizaciones.

El Congreso del Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela (PSUV) debe transformarse en la más democrática instancia donde todos podamos opinar, proponer, criticar y decidir lo mejor para la revolución bolivariana, sin restricciones y sin injerencias burocráticas que impidan una libre discusión.

Tenemos inmensa confianza en que cientos de miles de compatriotas podemos seguir con el proyecto socialista y enfrentar en ese camino cualquier intento que la derecha pretenda realizar. Pero a la confianza hay que acompañarla de unidad y de organización, construyendo un espacio común para debatir todos estos temas.

Stalin Pérez, Vilma Vivas, Marco García e Ismael Hernández, Unión Nacional de Trabajadores (UNT) sindicalistas, Caracas

For so long the President has been favouring people with scarce resources and proposing actions to continue helping the poorest such as through the Consejos Comunales, and I believe that the abstention was a result of complacency, a lack of political maturity, and ingratitude, but the real problem is the situation of criminality and gangsterism in the barrios.

(The campaign) failed to organize regular political debates to explain and compare the advantages and disadvantages between socialism and capitalism. Some just wanted to take from the revolution, and for these, it doesn’t matter whether they vote or not. As such, those who abstained have to accept their irresponsibility.

A estas alturas del tiempo que lleva el Presidente favoreciendo a la gente de menores recursos y proponiendo acciones para seguir ayudandolos como es el caso de los Consejos Comunales, creo que la abstención obedece a la comodidad, falta de madurez política e ingratitud de la gente, pero un problema real es la situación en los barrios con visos de criminalidad y pandillerismo.

Falta realizar, como rutina, talleres de ideología que explique y confronte ventajas y desventajas entre socialismo y capitalismo. Algunos sólo quieren vivir de la revolución y por ello les da lo mismo votar o no. Así que los abstencionistas asuman su irresponsabilidad.

Dalia Pérez, Barquisimeto

I hope the President counter attacks… it seems to me that the politicians were overconfident in the campaign, but now we should advance on the attack.

Aspiro que el presidente haga lo que más el contraataque… ahí se crece… me parece que en la campaña hubo exceso de confianza de parte del políticos, pero ahora debemos avanzar al ataque.

José Rojas, Barrio El Junquito, Caracas

We have to find out what happened with this Chavismo Lite that stayed at home, we have to see what is going on with the people.

Furthermore, we have to make sure that its not just politicians in the media influencing this mystical public opinion, but that all Venezuelans are involved in politics.

We have to organize ourselves, go into the streets, construct this community, these consejos… we have to respect our President and bring the confused abstainers to the polls.

The fight continues comrades - this hasn’t finished, and he who doesn’t believe that doesn’t deserve to be called a revolutionary.

Tenemos que ver que pasa con ese Chavismo Light que se quedo en su casa, tenemos que ver que esta pasando en el pueblo.

Además tenemos que demostrar que no es político solo el que habla en medios y crea esa mitificada opinión publica, sino todos y todas las venezolanas y venezolanos, todos tenemos que estar inmiscuidos en problemas políticos.

Tenemos que organizarnos, salir a las calles, construir esa comunidad, esos consejos… tenemos que velar por nuestro presidente y llevar a las urnas a esos abstinentes confundidos.

La lucha sigue camaradas - esto no ha terminado, y el que lo crea así, no merece ser llamado revolucionario.

Pablo Trinidad, Cua, Venezuela

This is a clear message that the Venezuelan opposition has nothing assured, that it wasn’t a convincing victory, and much less an end to the hope of a new, more just, economic and political future.

Nothing has been lost, we will continue and we will advance.

Este es un claro mensaje a la oposición venezolana, que indica que no tienen nada asegurado, que no fue una victoria contundente y mucho menos un final a la esperanza de un nuevo furturo económico y político más justo.

Nada se ha perdido, continuemos, avancemos.

Ángela, Barrio 23 de enero, Caracas

I think that one of the reasons (for the defeat) was the scattered efforts to organize the PSUV on one side, and on the other, the discussion about the reform.

Of six million members, only one million and a bit attend meetings… the PSUV has not been organized, and this confrontation especially found it poorly prepared.

I believe in the PSUV, I believe it is necessary, but also I think it was a mistake to leave the organisation of the party until after the referendum.

Creo que una de las razones fue la dispersion de esfuerzos por un lado con la corformacion del PSUV y por el otro la discusion de la reforma.

De seis millones de inscritos solo asistian a las reuniones un millon y piquito… el PSUV no estaba organizado, y especialmente para esta confrontacion no se encontraba debidamente preparado.

Creo en el PSUV, creo que es necesario, pero tambien creo que ha podido posponerse su conformacion hasta pasar el referendum.

Francisco Acuña, Valencia

Union leaders and workers have to take to the streets to mobilize and fight for the 6 hour work day and the inclusion of the workers in the informal sector.

Our revolutionary process requires and deserves a profound and urgent change. There is no time or possibility for superficial changes. A debate on the great political and economic decisions has to be started with the masses, with social, popular and political organisations, and we need a revolutionary newspaper.

There has to be no more appointed functionaries who are interested in their own personal gain. The role of the Ministers of Popular Power must be usurped, so that the decisions referred to them are debated and decided by those who will be affected by these decisions.

There must be no more salaries that allow (state) bureaucrats to live as though in Saudi Venezuela, buying properties and staying in luxurious hotels. This has nothing to do with socialism, and the workers demand that all those involved in this (corruption), all the inefficient and unscrupulous functionaries are fired.

Those who work for the process (the revolution) those that sacrifice each day, the true workers’ leaders and the social leaders in the barrios, that are part of, and reflect the people, have to be involved.

Los dirigentes sindicales y los trabajadores tenemos que salir a movilizarnos y a conquistar hoy las 6 horas de trabajo y la inclusión de los informales.

Nuestro proceso revolucionario necesita y se merece un cambio profundo y urgente. Ya no hay tiempo ni posibilidades de cambios superficiales. Hay que abrir el debate de las grandes decisiones políticas y económicas con las bases, con las organizaciones sociales, populares y políticas del proceso, y necesitamos un periódico revolucionario.

Hay que terminar con los funcionarios elegidos a dedo que no reflejan más que sus intereses personales. Replantearse el rol de los Ministros del Poder Popular, para que todas las decisiones referidas a cada uno sean debatidas y decididas por las bases involucradas.

Hay que terminar con los salarios de funcionarios que viven como en Venezuela Saudita, que compran propiedades y duermen en lujosos hoteles. Eso nada tiene que ver con un proyecto socialista, y las bases reclamamos la salida de todos los involucrados en este proceso, la renuncia de estos ineficientes e inescrupulosos funcionarios.

Hay que darle paso a los que trabajan por el proceso, a los que se sacrifican a diario desde las bases, a los verdaderos liderazgos obreros y los populares en los barrios, que son parte y reflejo directo de sus sectores sociales.

Union Nacional de Trabajadores sindicalistas, Venezuela

Democratisation of communication is the way that the people can participate in the production and distribution of information through the media, and undercut the 80 per cent of the media that reflects the priorities of capitalism.

This revolutionary form of communication should spread from the masses who support the government - from each battalion, in each consejo comunal, in every community.

La democratización de la comunicación es la vía para que el pueblo participe en la producción y distribución de los mensajes mediáticos, de darse esto no importará que más del 80 por ciento de los medios informativos respondan al modo de producción capitalista. Esta forma revolucionaria de comunicación debe desplegarse desde las bases de quienes apoyan al gobierno - en cada batallón, en cada consejo comunal, en cada pueblo.

María Rivas, Barrio Catia, Caracas

We are not going to hear those opinionated commentators who accused Chávez of being a dictator, an autocrat, a manipulator, gorilla or Castrocommunist - all the insults and lies of the politicians, café society, columnists and editorialists - apologise after the President immediately accepted without any objection the adverse result, but in 2 seconds - crash! - the entire media slander collapsed.

If only Colombia or México could show the same confidence and trust in their (electoral) institutions!

This is the moment to attend to the democratic capacity of the PSUV, changing a strategy that had prioritised quantity over quality, and that had hindered the activists from participating. This is the moment to make internal discussion - the multiplicity of dissident opinions - a democratic requisite.

No vamos a escuchar al grueso de los opinólogos que han acusado a Chávez de dictador, autócrata, manipulador, gorila o castrocomunista - todos los insultos y calumnias de políticos, tertulianos, columnistas y editorialistas - entonar un mea culpa después de que el Presidente aceptara de inmediato y sin ningún reparo el resultado adverso, pero en dos segundos - ¡derrumbó! - la calumnia mediática fracasó.

¡Ojala mostrara el ejército la misma fidelidad institucional en Colombia, en México!

Es el momento de mimar la capacidad democrática del PSUV, revirtiendo una estrategia que ha primado la cantidad a la calidad y que ha impedido que sea la base quien se encuentre con su verdadero instrumento de emancipación. Es el momento de hacer de la discusión interna un requisito democrático, de multiplicar las disidencias.

Juan Carlos Monedero, Madrid, España

What did the opposition win? Not much really. The opposition simply achieved to slow down a little the revolution’s advance that continues as before.

And what did the opposition lose? They lost the few cards they had left - the claims that elections can’t be trusted, that President Chávez wouldn’t recognize the result, that Chavistas are violent. And now, furthermore, they have now declared themselves fervent defenders of the Bolivarian Constitution, which is more a victory for us.

¿Qué ganó la oposición? No mucho, realmente. La oposición simplemente logró frenar un poco el avance de la revolución para quedar igual que antes.
¿Y qué perdieron? Perdieron algunas banderas de las muy pocas que disponían.
Que el árbitro no es confiable, que el presidente Chávez no reconocería su triunfo, que los chavistas son violentos. Y ahora, además, se han declarado fervientes defensores de la constitución Bolivariana, lo cual es más bien un triunfo para nosotros.

What did the revolutionaries lose? A tool to accelerate the advance of the revolution, that maybe wasn’t well explained or was proposed at the wrong moment.

And what did we gain? An increase in our international prestige as an eminently democratic people, with a great democratic leader, and the opportunity to reflect, improve and rectify our strategies before it becomes too late.

¿Qué perdimos los revolucionarios? Una herramienta para aligerar el avance de la revolución, que tal vez no fue bien sustentada o se propuso en el momento equivocado.
¿Y que ganamos? Aumento de nuestro prestigio internacional como pueblo eminentemente democrático, con un gran líder demócrata, y la oportunidad de reflexionar, pulir y rectificar las estrategias antes de que sea demasiado tarde.

What happened was the best thing that could have happened. Considering the adversary that we faced, it wouldn’t have suited us to win the referendum with a small margin. If we were not going to win with a sufficient margin, it was better to lose.

The rapid recognition of our adversary’s victory, without any scheming, was taken by our entire movement in a disciplined manner and saved the country from who knows how much unnecessary violence.

Lo que pasó fue lo mejor que pudo pasar. Ante un adversario como el que enfrentamos, de ninguna manera nos convenía ganar el referendo con un margen estrecho. Si no ganábamos con suficiente ventaja, era mejor perder.

El rápido reconocimiento del triunfo del adversario, sin ninguna mezquindad, fue asumido por todo nuestro movimiento de manera disciplinada y le ahorró al país no se sabe cuantos actos de violencia innecesarios.

Ramón Prada, Caracas

One learns more from defeats than from victories.

The victory of the No could be considered a triumph of fear, of manipulation, terror, ignorance and disinformation.

Now, we should do away with easy slogans and take the ideological battle to the heart of the people.

De las derrotas se aprende más que de las victorias.

El triunfo del No podría ser considerado un triunfo del miedo, de la manipulación, del terror, de la ignorancia y de la desinformación.

Ahora, debemos derribar el slogan fácil y debemos ir a la batalla ideológica profunda en el seno de nuestro pueblo.

Oscar Figuera, Partido Comunista de Venezuela (PCV), Caracas

The opposition still has no direction, coherence or respect as a political force.

Should the right retake the presidency someday, ensure that revolutionary organisation on the ground, in the barrios, in workplaces, remains strong and independent to protect the gains that have been made.

Colombians expected Chávez, on hearing that the vote was lost, to declare martial law, send tanks onto the streets and soldiers into the TV studios.

To see this guy talking without formalities, without notes, with humour and grace, telling the opposition to enjoy their evening, and even debating the impact of the result in interactions with the people in the audience, openly and honestly, left Colombians a little disorientated.

I think this defeat and the grace in which the Chávistas have taken it will actually go a long way towards undercutting the propaganda war against the revolution.

La oposición todavía no tiene ninguna dirección, coherencia o respeto como una fuerza política.

Los derechistas deben toma la presidencia algún día, asegurar que la organisación revolucionaria - en los barrios, en los lugares de trabajo - permanezca fuerte e independiente para proteger los logros que han hecho.

Los colombianos esperaron que Chávez, cuando el escuchó que el voto había sido perdido, declarara la ley martial, enviando tanques a las calles, y soldados a los estudios de televisión.

Para mirar este man hablando sin formalidades, sin notas, y con humor y gracia, diciéndole a la oposición que disfrutaran su tarde, y aún debatiendo el impacto de los resultados con la audencia, abierta y honestamente, dejando a los colombianos un poco desorientados.

Yo creo que esta derrota y la gracia con lo que los Chavistas han aceptado, realmente lo hará disminuir la guerra de propaganda contra la revolución.

Rocío Jiménez, Bogotá, Colombia

We have been unable to achieve a revolutionary process from below, with high levels of popular protagonism, and the Bolivarian revolution is still essentially led from the top.

Lots of people that are with the revolution, refrained this time from voting because they are being increasingly marginalized by a centralized State revolutionary process. They feel it is not their revolution.

It is a revolution that being handed down to them. They are not the subjects of the process, but its mere objects. And this is what disenfranchised and alienated 3 million potential supporters. This is the wrong path that led us into defeat.

Nosotros no hemos podido lograr un proceso revolucionario desde abajo, con altos niveles de protagonismo popular, y la revolución Bolivariana esta todavía dirigida desde la cima.

Mucha gente que está con la revolución se abstuvo, esta vez, de votar porque ellos están siendo aumentados marginalmente por un proceso revolucionario y centralizado del estado. Ellos sienten que no es su revolución.

Es una revolución que está dándoles a ellos. Ellos no son los sujetos del proceso, pero son los meros objectos. Y esto es lo que causado el disenfranchisimiento y la alienación de tres millones de partidarios. Este es el camino errado que ha dirigido a la derrota.

Teresa Arraíz, Ciudad Bolívar

How can the opposition move beyond its stupid, monotonous and shallow ‘anti-dictator’ mantra? They can't, because they have nothing of substance beyond it to offer.

The revolution has occupied, with its vast and deep program of social reforms, all possible political space.

Besides, as soon as the opposition tries to agree on a proposal that is not just tired propaganda, they will explode into a myriad of fragments.

Nothing truly strategic and positive holds together the opposition's fragile concoction of contradictory and petty motives.

¿Cómo puede la oposición moverse por encima de la mantra estúpida, monótona y superficial de ‘contra-dictador’? No pueden, porque no tienen nada de substancia para ofrecer.

La revolución ha ocupado, con su programa de inmensas y profundas reformas sociales, todo el espacio político posible..

Además, tan pronto como la opocisión intenta estar de acuerdo en un propuesta que no es propaganda cansada, ellos estallarán en una miríada de fragmentos.

Nada verdadamente estratégico y positivo sostiene juntos la mezcla frágil de los motivos contradictorios e insignificantes de la opocisión.

Augusto Piñango, Santa Rosalía, Portuguesa

We haven’t lost anything - just a possibility, but we are going to convince our compañeros, those who have doubts, those who have fears… raise the socialist standard, learn more, unite together, teach, and continue demonstrating through action - more than through theories - what socialism is.

No hemos perdido nada, en verdad perdimos sí una posibilidad, pero vamos a convencer a los compañeros, a los habitantes, a los que tienen dudas, a los que tienen temores… levanta la bandera del socialismo, estudiemos más, compactémonos mucho más, expliquemos más y sigamos ahora demostrando en los hechos en qué consiste, más allá de la teoría, la propuesta socialista.

President Hugo Chávez


Chavez's concession speech:

I prefer it like this. I prefer that it ends like this.

Lo prefiero así. Yo prefiero que haya terminado así.

I am calm, as I hope all Venezuelans are at this moment. Let us all be proud with what we have done, and continue to respect each other.
Now, we must all recognize the decision, the very tiny margin. I say this to emphasis all those who voted Sí and to say to the leaders of the opposition - I sincerely hope you know how to deal with this success.

Estoy tranquilo, como espero que los venezolanos, a partir de este momento, también lo hagan. Estemos todos orgullosos con lo que hemos hecho, cada quien en su ámbito, con sus posiciones, respetando al otro.
Ahora, todos debemos reconocer que es una decisión ahí, muy chiquitica. Digo esto para recordar a quienes votaron por el Sí y a los dirigentes de oposición, mi sincera recomendación de que sepan administrar esa victoria.

I will sleep tranquilly. Those who are going to celebrate should know how to manage their victory. You gained it, but I wouldn’t have wanted such a pyrrhic victory… the vote totals are irreversible, and I recognize that.

I congratulate my adversaries on this victory - it was a hard fight.

For now, we couldn’t… (but) the reform proposal is still alive, it hasn’t died.

Yo dormiré tranquilo. Los que vayan a celebrar que sepan administrar su victoria. Ustedes se la ganaron, pero yo esa victoria pírrica no la hubiera querido. Más bien prefiero que las cifras hayan llegado al nivel de irreversibilidad y sentarme delante de todos ustedes a reconocerlo.
Felicito a mis adversarios por esa victoria; nosotros estamos hechos para una batalla larga. Por ahora no pudimos… La propuesta de reforma está viva, no ha muerto.

I assume the responsibility for not achieving 50 per cent plus one for the proposal - but it nearly achieved it.

It has to be accepted: in Venezuela, despite all the scheming and lies, as President Castro described it a few days ago, a people under fire - under an intense artillery fire of lies and fears - still voted 49 per cent for the socialist project. Despite everything, this is a great political advance.

Yo asumo la responsabilidad de esta propuesta, que no logró el 50 por ciento más uno; pero casi lo logro.
Hay que aceptarlo: venimos de una situación donde en Venezuela no había rumbo político, a pesar de todas las artimañas y mentiras que circularon, como el Presidente Castro lo describió hace unos días, un pueblo bajo fuego - fue sometido a un intenso fuego de artillería de mentiras y temores - sin embargo, que haya votado 49 por ciento por el proyecto socialista, a pesar de todo es un gran paso político.

We continue the battle to construct socialism, within the Constitution. In the proposal there are very audacious ideas, without precedents.
I will not erase a single comma of this proposal. The proposal continues…

Nosotros seguimos en la batalla por la construcción del socialismo, en el marco de la Constitución. En la propuesta hay ideas muy audaces, sin precedentes.
Ni una sola coma de esta propuesta, yo la retiro. La propuesta la continúo haciendo…

We lost 3 million votes - for what reasons? It is necessary to evaluate, although I am completely confident that the immense majority of those people continue with us, those who did not vote Sí. They abstained; had doubts, fears, no time - there was no chance to explain….There are many political factors that we must take into account in this battle… we respected the rules of the game… (and) it is not the first time.

A nosotros nos faltaron 3 millones de votos de personas que no fueron a votar. ¿Por cuáles razones? Hay que evaluarlo, estoy completamente seguro que la inmensa mayoría de esas personas sigue con nosotros, que no votaron por el Sí; se abstuvieron: dudas, temores, faltó tiempo, capacidad para explicar….Hay bastantes elementos políticos que debemos tomar en cuenta en esta batalla… respetamos las reglas del juego… No es la primera vez.

The Chief of State invited the foreign journalists present to this concession, to observe how Venezuela continues speaking openly, with freedom of expression, criticism and demonstrations - as it has always done - and so to cause the accusations of a supposed dictatorship in Venezuela to crumble.

El Jefe de estado conminó a los periodistas extranjeros presentes en la alocución, a observar cómo en Venezuela se continuará hablando abiertamente, libertad de expresión, críticas y manifestaciones, como siempre ha sido, con lo que se desmoronan las acusaciones de una supuesta dictadura en Venezuela.

No more in Venezuela will there be elections as in the past… when the (workers’) Communist vote was torn between Acción Democrática and COPEI. This vote is a demonstration of the credibility and confidence that we have in our Constitution and in the institutions (misions and consejos comunales) that have been created as part of our Bolivarian democracy.

Ya nunca se verá en Venezuela lo que veíamos nosotros en las elecciones del pasado…cuando el Partido Comunista se lo repartían entre la Acción Democrática y el COPEI. Esta es una demostración de la credibilidad que debemos tener en nuestra Constitución y en las instituciones que ha creado, en nuestro sistema político de la democracia bolivariana.

I congratulate those who voted for the proposal and those who rejected it - to those who had doubts, this one (democracy) is the way… I hope they will now spurn, for ever, their nihilistic road to violence, destabilization and ignorance.
Venezuelan democracy is becoming mature and each process that we experience, each political moment, is allowing our country to continue advancing this new Bolivarian project that began in 1999.

Felicito a quienes votaron por la propuesta y quienes la rechazaron - a aquellos que tenían dudas, éste es el camino y ojalá se olviden, para siempre, de las trochas, los saltos al vacío, de los caminos de la violencia, de la desestabilización y el desconocimiento.
La democracia venezolano va madurando y cada proceso que vivimos, cada jornada política, va permitiendo que nuestro país continúe madurando, en este nuevo proyecto Bolivariano que comenzó en 1999.

To paraphrase the Liberator, Simón Bolivar, who, at the moment of presenting the text of Bolivia’s Constitution, said that if it was not accepted, he would bequeath it for the future, the reform proposal is entrusted to the immediate future.

(With this vote) our Bolivarian Constitution, so hard fought for, has finally been recognised by the opposition.

The opposition have to defend the Constitution… I hope (the opposition’s participation in the vote) hasn’t been a momentary political tactic. I want to have faith. We are going to construct the Venezuela that the Constitution reflects.

Parafrasear al Libertador Simón Bolívar, cuando en la oportunidad de entregar el texto de la Constitución de Bolivia, dicho que si no lo aceptaban lo legaría para el futuro, esta propuesta de Reforma la lega para un futuro inmediato.

Nuestra tan luchada constitución…que por cierto, uno de los grandes logros es que la oposición reconoció esta Constitución Bolivariana.
Han salido a defenderla. Espero que no haya sido un recurso momentáneo y manejo electorero. Quiero creer en la buena fe. Vamos a construir la Venezuela que aquí esta reflejada.

Al Jazeera English on the Venezuelan Referendum

On Friday, December 7th, Al Jazeera's programme The Listening Post analysed the world's media biased coverage of the constitutional reform referendum. Amongst those interviewed was Alan Woods, founder of Hands Off Venezuela.