Referendum fever is on in Venezuela, with 1.4 million people having registered to vote in the referendum, setting new records for voter registration in a place where records of participation have been repeatedly broken in recent years. There are now 14 million Venezuelans who are able to vote on August 15 -- earlier this year, there were 12.5 million, according to the Electoral Council's figures. Remember that Chavez was re-elected with 3.7 million votes in 2000. As I understand it, the opposition needs to either beat that number or beat the number of 'No' voters in the recall vote, whichever is higher. The population of the country is 24 million (according to this El Tiempo article I'm quoting from -- I thought it was 22 million).
Venezuela has formally asked the US to stop helping the coup plotters and the 'opposition'.
But Venezuelans aren't the only people going to a major referendum soon. There's also Bolivia.
This coming Sunday, Bolivians will vote on the future of their natural gas resource. This was the promise of Carlos Mesa, the Vice President who took over after President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada was ousted by a popular uprising. Some movements had sought a question about nationalization of the resource, in addition to the question about whether or not to export the gas. Mesa didn't listen -- he was trying to placate the multinationals as much as the powerful social movements. So as it stands, it seems to me that if Bolivians vote against the exportation of gas, they will avoid losing a huge amount of control over their resources, but they won't gain much in the way of control, since really important questions are not on the table.
I have heard that the Bolivian social movements are working and strategizing slowly and patiently: knowing that they can overthrow Mesa the same way they overthrew Sanchez de Lozada any time they want doesn't get them the democratic control over their lives that is their right.