Under an absolute deluge, Chavez celebrates the victory together with hundreds of thousands of supporters from the people's balcony.
Well after ten o'clock in the evening, under an absolute downpour, President Chavez came out onto the People' Balcony - that he himself has rebaptised as of today as the Balcony of the People's Victory - to address the hundreds of thousands of supporters who had come out massively onto the streets of Caracas after the polling stations had closed.
"Long live the Socialist Revolution!"
Before speaking, as is his usual custom on great occasions, Chavez sang the national anthem, "Glory to the brave people" accompanied by hundreds of thousands of voices that came together as one. "Long live the Socialist Revolution!" shouted Chavez who was visibly moved and also completely soaked through by the time he had finished singing. He was surrounded by the ministers of the Bolivarian government, the President of the National Assembly, Cilia Flores and some of his daughters. The slogan of "Uh Ah Chávez no se va", [Uh Ah, Chavez is not going] rose up from the hearts of hundreds of thousands of people. "Long live this rain as well, long live the people's victory!" "Victory, victory, the people's victory" replied the people.
On the other side, on the roof of the White House, the soldiers of the Guard of Honour waved the national flag, an epic image that recalled one of the most moving moments of the people's uprising that defeated the April 2002 coup. The celebrations and the emotion could be felt on the roof of the building, on the People's Balcony and even more so on the streets, the Avenida Urdaneta y Puente Llaguno, seething once again with the revolutionary fervour of the masses. That sense of humour, so characteristic of the Venezuelan people was also not lacking. A group of revolutionaries held up a huge black coffin with big letters on it saying, "Rosales here is your black", referring to the [black] credit card that the leaders of the opposition had been handing out among the urban poor as a so-called "social project", with which they had attempted to buy people and sow confusion among the poorest and less politically conscious layers.
Chavez underlined the fact that today's victory "has no historical precedent" and he compared it to all the previous victories. "Eight years ago we won with a margin of 800,000 votes. Eight years later we have won with a margin of practically 3 million votes. Eight years ago we got 55%, in 2000 we won with 58%, in 2004 in the referendum we won with 59% and today we have reached the peak of 60%."
Chavez congratulated all the people and he stressed several times the fact that they had gone over the 60% mark. Over the previous weeks, among the more leftward leaning layers that support the revolutionary process, there had been much debate on this question. In the opinion of leading layers of the revolution, or at least a part of this layer, the idea had emerged that in order to radicalise and deepen the revolution and to carry out that turn towards socialism that Chavez had raised at the beginning of this campaign, it was absolutely indispensable that the 60% mark should be reached. Among a significant layer of the rank and file, worried about the lack of mobilisation and participation of the ranks in the organisation and leadership of the election campaign compared to the Battle of Santa Ines, the idea was beginning to emerge that a section of the reformist leaders seemed to be playing the game of winning the elections by less than 60% and then to use this as an excuse to slow down the revolution.
Whatever may have been the case, the fact remains that this victory with a percentage above the 60% mark has not only enthused the revolutionary ranks, but Chavez himself also gave the impression of being very moved and he stressed this figure several times in his speech.
"The Venezuelan Road to Socialism"
President Chavez did not outline concrete plans to move the revolution forward, in the same way that he had not done so after the victory in 2004, in what was a very similar speech. However, one of the most important points in his speech (and which can have a greater impact in the new period that opens up after this revolutionary victory) was the idea that the revolution not only continues but is also going to become more intense. "I said that December 3, was not a point of arrival, but a point of departure and it is a point of departure. Today a new epoch begins, that we can sum up in four points. The main central idea is the deepening, widening and extending of the socialist revolution. More than 60% of the people has not voted for Chavez but for a project that has a name: Venezuelan Socialism."
The President did not explain what this "Venezuelan Road to Socialism" would consist of. He said that the moment had come to build a socialist economy, a socialist state and morals, but he did not define the concrete measures that he was thinking of carrying out, although he did insist that one of the central aspects of this new stage would have to be the "battle against bureaucratic counter-revolution and against corruption." This idea aroused the enthusiasm of the masses, as the bureaucratisation that Chavez has referred to on various occasions is one of the questions that have most worried the Bolivarian ranks. In what seems to be a striving to give the revolution a new push forward, Chavez explained that this battle had to be "a battle for a new state that is capable of defeating this bureaucratisation". This is precisely what the people are hoping for and this idea aroused widespread enthusiasm.
Chavez ended his speech by recalling the successful policies carried out by the Bolivarian government in several fields, and he said that the Missions would not only continue but would also be intensified. He also raised as main planks of his platform the struggle to continue with the improvement of the quality of healthcare, the development of productive labour, the improvement of the quality of life, the struggle against violence and he made a specific reference to the housing problem, defining the aims as "decent housing for all" and "free and good quality education" as central objectives in this new phase.
Chavez reiterated the fact that "Venezuela will never be a colony" and he greeted the North American people and he expressed his solidarity to them, as also to the peoples of Europe, Africa, Asia and Oceania. And he insisted once again that, "our message will be the same. We need a new world where sovereignty of the peoples and of nations is respected. In Venezuela we are showing that a new world is possible and we are building it."
It was probably the most emotional speech of this revolutionary process. Chavez and the tens and hundreds of thousands of people that were listening to him were visibly moved. But the mood, at least among the more conscious layers, was somewhat different from other occasions. It is a more mature and thinking mood. Both the President and a significant part of the revolutionary vanguard seemed to feel the dangers that could emerge if the Venezuelan revolution does not take a qualitative step forward, if it does not solve all the remaining problems as outlined above, in particular bureaucracy and corruption. One and the other seem to sense that the revolution is reaching a critical point, one of those crossroads, where not to move forward in the right direction means to begin backsliding, and they are seeking the road to take the revolution to the end. In spite of all this, having reached this point, the revolution cannot depend on the will of one individual.
The only way of carrying out the revolution to the end is through the mobilisation and organisation of the masses from below to expropriate the capitalists and build a revolutionary state based on representatives elected by the rank and file workers, peasants and urban poor, with the right of recall. The economy must be placed in the hands of the state in order to be able to plan it democratically with the aim of meeting the social needs. But this state must be controlled by the workers and not by the bureaucracy. This is the main debate facing the Venezuelan revolution. How this debate is resolved will determine our success or failure in this decisive phase that has opened up today.