As is customary on election days, I went around the city first thing in the morning. It was not as successful as other times, First, I was alone, so driving and taking pictures at the same time made it difficult. But the biggest problem is a new custom to block a few streets surrounding the electoral centers. It used to be one block, but somehow this time around they extended it to three or four blocks. This makes it difficult for older people to get to the voting center and more so for the handicapped. I tried to get close to voting centers in Catia and downtown, but it was difficult, no place to park and pictures from afar. This one was about as close as I got to small centers:
All places I saw had huge lines, in Liceo Gustavo Herrera, the line went out to the street and then all the way back to the Sambil shopping center, about five to six blocks. At Liceo Andres Bello, this is a small subset of the lines I saw:
A good friend sent a picture of the line ahead of her, as you can see there seems to be no end to it:
The biggest problem seems to be with null votes occurring whenever the voter fails to wait for the full picture of the candidate to appear on the screen after selecting it in the touch sensitive pad. Apparently, if the full picture has not appeared and you press select, the vote is null and you can not go back. This is creating problems for both sides as both campaign spokesmen have warned voters on TV about this glitch in the “best voting system in the world” (Message for Jimmy and Jennifer). Another problem is the “information point” at the beginning where you are checked to see if you vote in that center. After that, theer are no lines. Supposedly the only function of that position is to know how many voters have voted.
The only dissonant note was that of the Minister of Defense who came on TV and talked about “intelligence” reports which suggest that “armed irregular groups” were planning to disrupt the process in the afternoon and began warning them that they would not be allowed to act and the Armed Forces were ready to stop them. With such calm and peace in the process this was unnecessary.
Oh yeah, three voters swallowed their ballots after casting their votes and they were jailed. No kidding!!!
Chávez has yet to vote, with reporters waiting at his voting center since early morning. They initially said it was customary for Chávez to vote between 10 and 11 AM, but it is now 12:30 PM and he has not voted.
The weather has been mild so far. Caracas had a bright morning but clouds are beginning to show up and the rains are likely to come in the afternoon. The Devil has not voted, I saw long lines were I vote, will go in a little bit.
While I was downtown, I got trapped in the maze of streets that were closed, spinning around over and over looking for a way out. I was not alone, there was lots of traffic in this sort of infinite loop. So, I did some tourism. I had not seen the new (and ugly) Simon Bolivar mausoleum:
which you can see is next to the Panteon Nacinal where Bolivar is buried and which did look nice and clean:
so did this building in Avenida Urdaneta, I am not sure the colors are the original ones, but it looked nice:
and I certainly liked this mural in a corner on the wall of a house in a barrio near La Pastora, very colorful:
As I was trying to get out of the maze of the traffic, I realized I was very low on gas, like really low, I managed to get out and by sheer luck there was a gas station, but they only had low octane gasoline. I purchased 10 liters of the lower 91 octane stuff, just to make sure I would get home. I paid all of Bs. 0.70 for this, 16 cents US$ at the official rate of exchange, around 6 cents at the rate you can’t talk about.