As of about 10:34pm, there seems to be confusion regarding whether the referendum in Venezuela has passed or has been defeated. Throughout the evening, reports have stated, based on international exit polls, that the pro-Chávez side has won by 6-8%. Reuters is now reporting that the "Si" vote for the reforms has won by a very small margin. Quico at Caracas Dispatch, however, is saying the "No" won while watching the telly in Caracas. My good friend Arturo Serrano suggests that the reforms have been defeated.
Where do we stand? Venezuelans are having a hard time waiting on the results, the anti-Chávez camp saying that there must be some trickery going on. But it had earlier been announced by the elections committee - the CNE - that results would come between 10 and 11pm.
Finding decent news and analysis on Venezuela is incredibly difficult. If you want to know what is/was at stake, do not go to the regular US media, and certainly don't go to the screechers on the rightwing blogs. I would also avoid places like Salon's absolutely awful The Devil's Excrement and Venezuela News and Views. Both are hugely lopsided on the anti-Chávez side. Venezuelan government sites are, of course, equally useless.
Venezuela Analysis has the best rundown of the referendum that I've found: here and here.
The rumors are flying. Chávez is said to be furious.
Still nothing. Some blogs are suggesting an 8.5% margin in favor of "No" to the referendum. Discussions taking place behind closed doors. Apparently, negotiations over a concession. But this is all speculation. The vote may simply be too close to call at this point.
More rumors: the military is on board with the NO vote. Chávez refuses to concede.
Trouble.... Globovision has live coverage.
The referendum is defeated. 51%-49%. A 1.4% difference.
Who knows about the rumors that Chávez refused to concede? Now some opposition people are claiming they won by a larger margin but that Chávez demanded it be reduced to a smaller margin. This is the problem with the Venezuelan opposition. The hatred of Chávez is so great that they're often blinded by conspiracy theories of their own creation. We already know Chávez has a habit of doing this himself.
But this is a good result. The proposed referendum was not "evil." It has its good points and its questionable points. This isn't a grand victory for the opposition. But it's a good one. The reason it's a good one is that, although the opposition remains fragmented and often plays an astonishingly self-defeating political game, the NO vote did put the brakes on Chávez. Just maybe, if the opposition can get over its self-negating hatred and Chávez can get over himself, there's a bit of space in there for a real dialogue about the future of the country.