Caracas, December 1, 2007
(venezuelanalysis.com) – In a hard-hitting speech Venezuelan President Hugo
Chavez told over 500,000 supporters at the final campaign rally in favor of
the proposed constitutional reform on Friday, "If the ‘yes' vote
wins on Sunday and the Venezuelan oligarchy, playing the [U.S.] empire's game,
comes with their little stories of fraud,"
he will suspend all oil shipments to the U.S immediately. "The U.S. will not
receive one drop of oil," he declared. Chavez also warned private media against
promoting violence and destabilization after the referendum.
Beginning in the early hours
of the morning, a sea of red filled Avenida Bolivar, the capital's principal
boulevard and overflowed into Avenidas Mexico, Lecuna, San Martin, and
Universidad, dwarfing an opposition rally of around 200,000 the day before, as
Chavez supporters wearing T-shirts emblazoned with ‘Yes to the reforms' danced
and sang as they waited for Chavez who spoke at 5 in the afternoon.
Perusing the crowd through a pair of binoculars, Chavez
announced, "The avenida Bolivar is full, overflowing on the north and south,
over there avenida Lecuna and avenida Universidad are full. The Bolivarian
people are here saying ‘Yes.'"
Chavez told his supporters that the reforms which would
reduce the work week to 36 hours, allow for presidential reelection, recognize
new forms of property, and give more power to grass roots communal councils,
will "open the path to socialism."
He also emphasized that the vote on Sunday represents
more than simply a vote on the reforms. "To vote ‘yes', is a vote for Chavez
and the revolution, to vote ‘No' is a vote for Bush," he said.
"We are not simply confronting the pawns of
imperialism, those that play the dirty game of imperialism here," he said
referring to the opposition, "Our true enemy is US imperialism."
"This Sunday we will give
another knockout to George W. Bush." he added.
However, Chavez said, "No-one
should be surprised if the anti-Chavistas refused to recognize the result,"
after a video released by Communications Minister Jesse Chacon on Thursday
showed opposition leaders calling supporters to reject the results of the
referendum on Sunday and create "pockets of protest" all around the country to
generate a political crisis for the government.
"I hope this does not happen,
but if it does, the revolutionary government will respond like it should, like
a revolutionary government, together with the people," Chavez said and called
on his supporters to stay mobilized in the streets after the referendum in
order to prevent opposition inspired disturbances.
"They say they will only
recognize the results if they win … and they will take to the streets,"
Chavez told the rally. "Fine. We'll see you in the streets then, we are not
Amidst fears that Venezuela
could descend into violence if the vote is close, including warnings of a
potential civil war from Cuban leader, Fidel Castro, Chavez said, "My life
belongs the the Venezuelan people. I am a soldier, and if I have to pick up a
rifle to defend Venezuela,
then I will."
Recalling the 2002 oil
industry shutdown by the opposition, which caused an estimated $10 billion loss
to the Venezuelan economy, Chavez said he had also ordered the military to
secure oil fields and other installations on Sunday night to prevent any acts
He also spoke of the destabilization and misrepresentation of Venezuela by the international corporate media
and threatened, "If
any international channel comes here to take part in an operation by
imperialism against Venezuela
your reporters will be thrown out of the country, they will not be able to work
here," Chavez said. "People at CNN, listen carefully: This is just a warning."
If the opposition private TV channel Globovision, "takes part in the
game of imperialism" and if they violate Venezuelan law by publishing premature
or false election results before polls close, they will be taken off air
immediately, Chavez said as the crowd responded, chanting, "That is how one
Dr Graciela Angarita, an
orthopedic surgeon who attended the rally also criticized the international
media portrayal of Venezuela
and told Venezuelanalysis.com, "The truth is the majority of people support the
president and the reforms."
"The government has done a
lot for the people," she said and pointed to the social missions, which provide
free education and healthcare. She explained that under previous governments
there was a lot of repression and the poor were excluded.
"This is a revolution that is
going to spread across all of Latin America,"
After the rally Chavez
supporters took over Plaza Altimira in the upper middle-class, predominantly
opposition suburb of Chacao in a street party that lasted late into the night.