Toque de Diana


I was in no state to deal with this morning’s Toque de Diana: chavismo’s folkloric tradition of blaring military bugles and fireworks at 3:00 a.m. – yes, 3:00 a.m. – on the day of the vote. The lexotanil I’d taken 5 hours earlier to get me through the second jitteriest night of the year was still going strong and through the haze for a moment there I thought all the explosions were…something else.

It’s a cretinous custom, when you think about it, as is this fixation with voting very early in the day. On the one day of the year when everybody needs rest and can expect to be kept up until maybe 3 or 4 a.m. the next morning, the government goes out of its way to ensure nobody can be well rested.

The point, I suspect, is to remind chavistas that military-style loyalty is expected of them all day. To the rest of the country, what it conveys is something a bit different: the whole city is being treated like a military barracks. Here’s hoping it’s not for much longer.

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  1. I think I slept maybe 2 hours last night for the same reason. But I’m back from the voting station, and I hear from family that there is no electricity in Altagracia de Orituco en Guárico, so the voting machines are running on batteries. Will this gain more last minute votes for the opposition? Fingers crossed! Hay un camino!

  2. Our niece in Valencia forgot about the time difference and called as a reminder to vote. Ufff. Reminder? Long lines in Valencia.

    Thanks for your reports on CC.

  3. I heard it at 0310 hours – for the first time. But my voting station wasn’t as crowded as I’d have liked and we were in and out in 25 minutes. Is that a good omen or not? Hard to say and all but the die is cast. We all did our bit…

  4. I had a HUGE gang of motorizados pass in front of my centro, all wearing black but very clearly chavistas, sounding their motors and riding along a sound truck blasting the diana through the speakers, mind you, this is a very escualido zone, 80%+, i can’t imagine the intimidation at more contested centros.

    • The black shirts I’ve seen are Tupamaros, frequently driving fairly new SUV’s along with their high-powered motorcycles (“The Wild Ones”) and sound truck. Living 15 miles outside Caracas, the 3 A. M. explosion (sounded like a bomb, had the dogs barking, and kept me from getting back to sleep until at least 5 A. M.

  5. (Wrote this elsewhere)

    Bit off-topic:

    How worried are you all about null votes? I just read an article by AP saying that in the 2006 election there were 160.000 of them…

    Also, the tarjetón itself. I wish MAS had a place in it -most of the ones you see have right-wing leaning sounding names: Fuerza Liberal, etcetera.

    Happy voting

    • VTV has put this written message for quite a while: “Voters must WAIT that the candidate’s appears on (the machine’s) screen before pushing the “vote” button.

  6. The main point of this “custom” is to remind Venezuelans that we are a big Cuartel, where a Commander is the solely authority. Society is a concept highly disregarded by Chavismo.
    Likewise, electronic vote, or whatever is called our “armored” voting system, is again, another sign of disregard for society. The most advanced voting system I’ve seen it’s a “fish-tank” like ballot box. Everything crystal clear. We, instead, need a machine to shield the system against us, bad and always tricky citizens.
    I don’t know…

  7. We got the diana and very loud explosives at 2:30 frigging am. At 5:30 my family went down to start lining up, I waited until 8 am when they told me the line was moving. One hour in line and a very fast process once inside.
    The chavismo was very active as always here. Last presidential election Chavez won here 83% to 17%. This time I think the difference will be smaller but they still win here. I hope in other places the trend is in our favor.

  8. Reporting from Houston,
    The First cold winter breeze arrived this morning. The Sudden change in climate however has not dampened any spirits. Standing in line the joyful chatters lightens my nervousness. Judging from Mass of good moods its seem difficult to realize that so much is at stake…
    Amazing turn out though much better than 2006

  9. Look at what I found, guys:

    In a press conference Friday, September 5 (2008), Chavez said the blackouts were the responsibility of the government, and that “There is no revolution without electricity and no future without a good electricity system.”

    “We’re in a transition from an old model to this new age of energy revolution,” he said.

    I’d laugh, if it wouldn’t be so fucking sad.

  10. Right on Kiko. Toque de diana is a most annoying sound. Simply can’t stand it. Good thing that it serves the purpose of reminding everyone how badly we need an urgent change and clear our daily life of all things military that don’t belong in civil affairs.


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