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What will they do with these signatures anyway?
Posted: Sunday, February 2, 2003

by Oscar Heck,
Commentary from Venezuela

This morning at about 8:00 a.m. I walked over to the "parada", the main intersection and entrance to the "barrio" (slum area) where I am at this time.

The "firmazo" ("signing") began before I arrived. It's a one-day coordinated effort to collect signatures throughout all of Venezuela ... a collection of signatures in an attempt by the anti-Chavez opposition (comprised mainly of minority middle-to-upper class Venezuelans), and headed up by the Coordinadora Democratica (Democratic Coordinator), to collect millions of real signatures from people in favor of ousting President Chavez from power as quickly as possible (and this, regardless of the legal process which allows for a binding referendum in August 2003).

Here in the barrio, the line-up for the 'firmazo' ... at 8:30 a.m. ... was approximately 500 people and the organization collecting the signatures (Primera Justicia - a recently born opposition political party) was processing approximately 5-8 people per minute. By 11:00 a.m. (the time at which I write this commentary), there was no more queue ... but people are still coming to sign. They'll be open all day and into the late hours of the evening. This is the only signing station in this Caracas barrio and there are about 6 major barrios in the Caracas area, representing what I estimate to be nearly half the population of Caracas (2 million people).

I made some calculations:

The estimated population of this barrio is about 400,000.

If say, 10 people per minute are signed up for a period of 14 hours, a total of  8,400 signatures will have been collected by the end of the day. This represents a total of 2.1% of the population of the barrio.  Throughout Venezuela, my estimate is that at least 50% of the population lives in barrio-like conditions or worse.

I am sure that the percentage of collected signatures will be substantially higher amongst the middle-to-upper classes throughout Venezuela (which represent, in my estimate, about 35% of the Venezuelan population).

What portion of the Venezuelan population will be represented by the number of signatures collected?

What if the 'firmazo' was only held in barrio-like areas, such as in the barrio I am presently at?

What figures would we get if a 'firmazo' was done to sign up people that WANT Chavez to stay?

What will the Coordinadora Democratica LEGALLY do with these signatures anyway?

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