It was one of those times that I wish I had brought my camera and was free to take photos. We spent the night at the Opposition headquarters in Caracas awaiting the voting results from the referendum. Hundreds of students, press, and concerned others occupied a large, walled villa in a fashionable neighborhood. Outside the iron gates others waited in the streets, peering through the gates searching for some sign of how the vote is going.
As the night went on the crowds exponentially grew. The polls closed at 8:00 p.m. and in the subsequent hours more and more people occupied the streets surrounding the villa. We set our gear up in a darkened corner of the courtyard next to the Al Jeezera crew, sharing the same power outlet, and waited along with the rest.
By 1:00 a.m. optimism had grown along with the reveling crowds. The delay in the official announcement of the results was interpreted as good news for the pro-democracy students. Rumors abound of the military generals warning President Chavez to respect the results, and the police surrounding the neighborhood to protect the students from revenge-seeking Chavez supporters.
Finally at 1:15 a.m. the announcement came. The hushed crowds stacked in front of television sets, the world balancing on the head of a pin. All at once a thundering explosion of cheers rocked the night. The pro-democracy movement had defeated President Chavez’s sweeping constitutional reforms designed to move Venezuela to a full-totalitarian state.
The doors and the gates of the villa were thrown open and we were immediately swimming in a wave of screaming and crying people. We tried desperately to protect or delicate position with it’s crisscrossing net of cables precariously linking us to our satellite up-link as the people poured in around us.
The remainder of the night was spent doing chaotic interviews and 'live shots' from the middle of tens of thousands of celebrants. Screaming, crying, waving flags, hugs, fireworks, megaphones; all carrying on through out the remainder of the night. Democracy had won.