Democracy won. The reform has been rejected.
We firstly were nervous because so few people were coming out to vote. Some were saying there were no queues because the process was much faster, but still there were too few people and we knew this could be very bad for the opposition.
Shortly before 2 pm Venezuelan time, the students declared they were calling all students to go out to vote after 2pm. In fact more and more of them came. They wanted to keep students in the voting polls after these were closed. If the students had gone earlier, they would have gone back home and would be less likely to be in the centres to defend the votes.
Voting centres finally closed. Time passed and no news came from the CNE. Chavez's government leaked to the international press some "exit polls" by "independent pollsters". Those pollsters were actually well-known in Venezuela as Chavez-close organisations. Reuters started to spread the news Chávez was winning. Some minutes later all kinds of news agencies started to repeat verbatim that Chávez was leading in the exit polls by several points.
We knew it could not be like that. That was way too different from what we had from many polls and even though polls are known for their inaccuracy, these time the difference was just too big and our own stories from different voting centres made us believe we could not be losing.
Quico has reported extensively in Caracas Chronicles about the different polls.
Venezuelans started to get the results from people in many different counting stations from inside Venezuela and abroad and those results had nothing to do with what the government had "leaked". I also had the exit polls from some voting centres in Europe, but I was aware most Venezuelans abroad are against Chávez. Still, the reports from our country were clear: we should be winning.
I wrote to Reuters and other news agencies telling them to wait as we were getting completely different results. The students were talking about a 6 to 8 point lead for us.
The National Electoral Council had previously said it would give the first results at 7:30 pm Caracas time. Time passed. People everywhere started to become more nervous. It was only after 1 am that the CNE finally talked and only did so after the opposition put a lot of pressure and threatened to go public.
The CNE could not hide anymore and they conceded Chávez's referendum had failed.
These are the results so far in Venezuela:
Block A 4.504.354 (50.70%) 4.379.392 (49.29%)
Block B 4.522.332 (51.05%) 4.335.136 (48.94%)
Valid votes: 8883746.
Invalid votes: 118 mil 693.
All votes: 9002439.
Here we will be putting the results for Europe:
Abstention: 53.5% (apparently there were many who had problems with the registration: they had been moved)
Total of votes: 256
There was a very high abstention. In many places in Europe, Venezuelans were angry because the government did not announce on time the conditions or the time of the voting in Europe and many said that was one of the reasons why many at the end did not go: they knew of the voting too late.
We have had an important victory. Chavismo is shocked and confused. We have shown Chávez can be beaten. He can be beaten even though he has at his disposal all governmental resources and though he can use so many tricks against us: preventing opposition marches to take place, forcing public servants to march for him, broadcasting endless "cadenas" in the public and private stations and so on.
This was just a battle and we have a long way to go, but we are in the right path, we know we can lead Venezuela to a path of development and more democracy, we will make Venezuela a pluralistic place and a country finally on the road to sustainable development.
There are still lots of rumours about Chavez having lost by far more than what the CNE and he conceded. We need to examine as best as possible the records to check there has been no fraud.
UPDATE: Sorry, guys, the stats are in several forms and I do not want to duplicate work, so I just point at the results in Notiven
There you will fine more numbers. I do not have the time to put all the numbers together from the different formats. What is PJ and UNT doing?