News from Venezuela

With three days until Venezuelans vote on a referendum which would allow President Hugo Chavez to seek reelection indefinitely, here is some news:

Polish freedom fighter Lech Walesa has canceled a planned visit to Venezuela.

Walesa was to travel to Venezuela on Friday on an invitation from opponents of President Hugo Chavez.

But this week Chavez first warned Walesa would be barred from entering. His government then said the former Czech [sic] leader could visit but would be closely monitored.

Earlier Walesa said:

“Is Chavez strong if he is afraid of the truth, if he is afraid of me? He is not strong at all, we should tell this to our colleagues [in Venezuela]: don’t be afraid of him, because it’s Chavez who is scared.”

What is it about the prospect of a visit by a Polish former electrician that rattles Chavez so much?

And with exquisite timing:

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez reported an attempted coup against his palace by army troops in contact with “a soldier on the run in the United States,” but said the government had everything under control.

“We’ve arrested some active duty soldiers who were in contact with a soldier on the run in the United States… sending messages about a so-called ‘operation independence,'” Chavez said in a government-run television interview Wednesday.

A soldier on the run in the United States? Is this Obama’s Bay of Pigs? I await full details, including the names of all those arrested.


Rebellious voters could go to jail if they protest leftist President Hugo Chavez by munching on paper voting machine receipts in a referendum on Sunday on allowing him to run for re-election.

Gen. Jesus Gonzalez, charged with overseeing the vote’s security, on Wednesday told reporters that voters in regional elections in November tore, balled up or threw away the papers printed by electronic voting machines. Some offenders were detained.

“They’ve eaten them. This is an electoral crime,” Gonzalez said.

Caracas Chronicles reports on how Chavez has mobilized all the resources of the state in his effort to produce a victory in the referendum.