Following the publishing of the "........Divorce Venezuela, Marry Brazil" article and Dec. 2, 2007 Venezuelan Referendum vote, this Analyst was aggressively challenged with some key questions, embracing several themes. These include:
- "What's Your Analysis (i.e. Read) on the 51-49 Election Results?"
- "What Leverage (does the U.S. have over Venezuela)?"
- "Why Mr. Chavez did not Contest the Referendum Results?"
- "What's Next?"
Rather than individually answer each and every of the many questioners, this "Update" piece, will serve to summarize the Analyst's assessment thoughts in response to the questions/statements posed to him, and invite continued debate on what in the aggregate, will be anything but a closed global and U.S. National Security issue going forward.
Specifically on "What Leverage", the Analyst was generally asked "How can anyone say the U.S. has any leverage whatsoever over Venezuela". All questioners were convinced Venezuela has all the leverage, the U.S. none.
On the "What's Your (election) Analysis, Why no contest, .....and What Next", the Analyst was also told "Mr. Chavez accepted his loss, was gracious in defeat, and therefore he clearly respects the democratic process......therefore the matter is closed", and then was specifically asked "Did Mr. Chavez' gracious defeat change the Analyst's Assessment and Opinion?"
Here then the Q&A.
What do the Referendum Results Mean (and What's the Real Result)?
Hidden behind the Referendum's "apparent" photo-finish results, reveals Mr. Chavez having "really" lost by a landslide.
It was "not" 51-49% against the Referendum. Instead it was 86-14% against the Referendum.
Analysis as follows:
The election results stunned Mr. Chavez, much more so than he publicly showed or acknowledged. Not only the actual Referendum loss, but more so in terms of how "really" bad he lost, which he and the press did not reveal.
While on paper, it appears close at 51-49%, note that that result on "just 56%" turnout of the "total possible voter population (see AP Report in prior article). That means a full 44% of the Venezuelan voter population chose not to vote.
Analyst Note: While one can argue that no election anywhere or anytime will secure 100% voter turnout, one can argue the stakes were so high and the campaign so aggressive here that 44% should have been dramatically lower. In other words, this non-vote component was not typical election ambivalence, but rather purposeful avoidance.
If the Referendum was such a great deal for the Venezuelan people as Mr. Chavez promoted in his campaign, in addition to those 51% (part of 56%), why did 44% outright choose not to vote? The answer being "conscience and/or fear". They had the conscience and conviction "not" to vote "yes" as the government "requested". They also were clearly fearful to vote "no".
In other words the 51-49 result was not a true reflection of total Venezuelan voter sentiment, and therefore the vote was not even that close. That's really what has Mr. Chavez concerned, and ever so gracious.