Morela Guillen, 50, is a former nurse in Caracas who swapped her career in health care for a job with one of the many Communal Councils (Consejos Comunales) that were created by Hugo Chávez’s government.
These Communal Councils are meant to advocate for residents of the poorest neighborhoods, giving them a voice and taking care of their needs. But they are also strongholds and political machines for Chávez.
The political utility of the Councils was evident in the nearly 20 hours I spent with Guillen on Election Day, Oct. 7. Throughout the very long day, Guillen and her center put on a powerful get-out-the-vote operation in her neighborhood, all supported by government dollars, with the clear intent of reelecting Chávez.
These photos tell the story of her day. I’ll leave it to others to decide whether the government can offer voters free rides and free food and still call it a free election.
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