“We will not vote until we are positive that our votes will count,” declared Carolina Rodriguez angrily. “For forty-years we have watched our votes thrown out by the corrupt officials in charge of the vote. Adecos (members of the traditional social-democratic party Acción Democrática) would count one vote and throw out another,” said Rodriguez. “And Copeyanos (from the Social-Christian Copei) did the same.”

The result has been a complete overload in the voting centers in question. While would-be voters have filled the streets outside to capacity, teams of neighbours have travelled down from the hillside barrios of El Torre and Sambla down to Petare to alert authorities of the situation. Community representatives also went to Channel 8, the state television channel Venezolana de Television, to make their case heard nationally.

“We will keep the voting stations open as long as necessary,” said Marie-Belle Roa among applause from her fellow-community members, “until the last person has voted, to make sure that there is no manipulation, to make sure that Chávez isn’t going anywhere, Chávez is here to stay!”

During the 2002 coup against Chávez spearheaded by right-wing elements of the military, the chamber of commerce (FEDECAMARS), and then-largest labour confederation the CTV community groups from Petare surrounded the state-television channel VTV to demand its signal be restored. The complicity of the private media in the coup meant that the only signals transmitted during the first 36 hours of the coup were pro-coup. Bolivarian circles and other community groups from Petare eventually succeeded in getting VTV back on the air, at which point Chávez-loyalists in the rest of the country where once again able to receive images of the millions of chavistas mobilizing all over the country demanding his return.

The masses of chavistas surrounding Miraflores Palace were instrumental in convincing loyal elements of the military to restore Chávez to power.

Now, once again the community of Petare is depending on VTV to transmit their story to the rest of the country to make sure that their votes do not get disqualified.