Tens of thousands gathered in Caracas on January 10th to show their support for and solidarity with president Chávez and the Bolivarian revolution. There was no "vacuum of power" of which the opposition talks about, but a revolutionary people in the streets.
President Chávez was re-elected on October 7th with 8.1 million votes (55%) on an suprisingly high 80% turn out. After his election his state of health deteriorated and asked for permission from the National Assembly to go to Cuba to undergo surgical treatment which was granted unanimously on December 11.
Complications in his post-operation recovery meant that he has not been able to go back to Venezuela since. This has sparked a campaign of rumours, orchestrated by the opposition, to say that Chávez is in reality in a comma, if not dead. No amount of official statements about his health has satisfied the opposition.
When it became clear that, for health reasons, president Chavez would not be able to attend the swearing in ceremony for his new 2003-2009 term of office on January 10th, vice president Maduro, following article 231 of the Constitution, asked for the ceremony to be transfered to a later date so that Chávez can be sworn in by the Supreme Court of Justice. All of this is perfectly legal and following the letter of the Constitution, and was agreed upon and ratified by the National Assembly and the Supreme Court of Justice.
Just so that we are clear, this is what art 231 of Bolivarian Consitution says about the swearing in of the President twitter.com/HOVcampaign/st…— Hands Off Venezuela (@HOVcampaign) January 10, 2013
This has not stopped the distabilisation campaign on the part of the opposition. For this reason a mass rally was called on January 10, with the presence of presidents and foreign affairs ministers from other Latin American countries, to show the people's support for president Chavez and the Bolivarian revolution and reject the campaign of the reactionary opposition.
From early in the morning people, having travelled from all over the country, started to gather in the streets of Caracas.
The day, January 10th, was also the anniversary of the assassination by a traitor of Ezequiel Zamora, the leader of the revolutionary Federal War, in 1860. This was marked with a gathering of the Militias and the Ezequiel Zamora National Peasant Front at the El Calvario steps (next to the Ezequiel Zamora park).
People gathered in different parts of the city to then march to Avenida Urdaneta, outside the Miraflores presidential Palace.
Tens of thousands participated in the event, which was addressed to by foreign heads of state and ministers. During the huge rally, Vice President Maduro took an oath from those present. With raised fists, copies of the constitution or their hands extended, tens of thousands of workers, youth, women, peasants, members of the milita, etc swore loyalty to Chavez and pledged to defend the Bolivarian revolution, its constitution and its socialist aims "with the strength and the intelligence" of a whole people.
Meanwhile, four representatives of the opposition, led by member Maria Corina Machado, went to the National Assembly to demand the begginning of Chavez's swearing in ceremony and "respect for the constitution". This is ironic as Maria Corina Machado participated in the short lived coup of Carmona which abolished the Bolivarian constitution. She is also famous for having had a 50 minute interview with president Bush. Others, like "People's Will" leader Leopoldo Lopez (also one of the April 2002 coup plotters) called for demonstrations to "defend the Constitution" on Saturday 12.
Small groups of violent right wing students burnt tyres and blockaded roads in Puerto Ordaz, Bolivar and San Cristobal, Táchira.
The opposition remains divided with some calling for a protest demonstration on january 23, others like Corina Machado saying there is no government in Venezuela as of the end of January 10th and opposition presidential candidate Capriles remaining silent over the whole issue.
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