Pro-Chavez Leaders Examine Reasons for Venezuelan Referendum Loss

In the aftermath of Sunday's constitutional reform referendum, various pro-Chavez leaders examined the reasons for their failure to win the referendum last Sunday. Most leaders agreed that there was doubt and confusion among the population.
Former Venezuelan Vice-President José Vicente Rangel presented his interpretation for why the constitutional reform referendum was defeated. (AP)

December 6, 2007 ( – In the aftermath of Sunday's
constitutional reform referendum, various pro-Chavez leaders examined the
reasons for their failure to win the referendum last Sunday. Most leaders
agreed that there was doubt and confusion among the population due to a failure
of the Chavez campaign to explain the contents of the reform and to fight media
manipulation. They called for a process of self-criticism and reflection inside
the movement and inside the United Socialist Party (PSUV).

there is no criticism, if there is no self-criticism, we will never be able to
construct a revolution," said the Pro-Chavez parliamentarian Luis Tascón.
"Chavismo is the fundamental force in Venezuela, and Chavismo will
continue building this country, but we need to reassess ourselves. We need to
recover our lost humility."

stated that the defeat of the reform was not due to Chavez supporters voting
against it, but rather the failure to mobilize enough pro-Chavez voters. The
parliamentarian called for a reorganization of the newly formed PSUV party,
which he said has many internal problems and is not efficient for winning
elections. He pointed out that while there are 6 million people registered in
the PSUV, only slightly more than 4 million people voted for the reform. 

President and staunch Chavez-supporter José Vicente Rangel also called for the
government to review its operations and carry out a process of "cleaning
up" the government bureaucracy.

suggested that the constitutional reform was too complex, and caused confusion
among the population. He commented that the National Assembly shouldn't have
incorporated the additional changes to Chavez' original proposal.

just the 33 articles that Chavez proposed it was enough. Just as it was it had
things that were complicated, such as the new geometry of power," he said.

But the
ex-vice president considered the turn-out a success, given that nearly 50
percent of the electorate voted in support of the socialist project "in
spite of the media attacks and with so much disinformation." "That
has never happened anywhere in the world," he added.

activists made similar criticisms, attributing the electoral loss to fear and
confusion among the population about the reforms. They pointed to the failure
of the PSUV, and the electoral campaign, to inform people about the reform, and
battle the media attacks.

general terms, we weren't able to defeat the fear that the opposition planted
in a good part of the population," said the vice-president of the
Bolivarian Committee for the Defense of the Constitutional Reform, Alfredo

stated that the opposition media campaign created fear by lying about the
contents of the reform and by using the method of Goebbels to "repeat a
lie a thousands times until it becomes true."

mentioned some of the most common manipulations of the opposition campaign,
including the claim that the government would do away with private property,
that the reform would make Chavez "president for life", and that all
children would become property of the state.

opposition depended on lies, planting doubts in the population to create
confusion," he said.

Arcila assured that they aren't trying to pin the blame on anyone, but rather
"adopt self-criticism as the first step." He called for a process of
profound reflection from the people in the PSUV and in all government positions
to determine who is truly dedicated to the revolution. He also attributed the
defeat to high levels of abstention.

increased abstention involved three million Chavistas who would never vote
'No', but they were fearful and doubtful, and preferred to stay home," he

pro-Chavez parties Patria Para Todos (PPT) and the Communist Party of Venezuela
(PCV) agreed in their analysis as well, saying that the population was confused
about the reform.

opposition played a lot more with the people's feelings than with the real
content of the reform," said PPT Secretary General José Albornoz.
"The population didn't understand what the reform was proposing."

also pointed to the failure to inform voters about the reforms, and clear up
people's doubts about the proposal.

had to be a bigger effort to reach out to the communities, schools, and
workplaces. We should have identified what people's fears were. The opposition
manipulated many things, such as losing control of your children. That was a
sensitive spot among the population."

Converting the Defeat into a Victory

pro-Chavez leaders agreed that the defeat could also prove to be a victory in
some ways. Luis Tascón stated that it would produce a "revolution within
the revolution," and force the opposition to recognize that Venezuela is a

think we can convert this defeat into a victory because it will guarantee a
revolution inside the revolution," he said. "In order to
revolutionize Venezuela
we have to revolutionize Chavismo."

feel hurt because we didn't win," he continued, "but apart from that
we won many things. Our electoral system was proven to be transparent, the
opposition finally accepted the 1999 Constitution, and the radical sectors of
the opposition were weakened"

"Venezuela is
happy, although there are a lot of things we have to talk about," he