In Venezuela, where the universities are significant sources of anti-Chavez sentiment, election day at the Central University in Caracas means a well-coordinated attack on the polling site by masked men with tear gas and guns.

The university’s concert hall is a rare enclave of architectural loveliness in Caracas: Alexander Calder designed a tremendous sculpture for its ceiling, and murals decorate the surrounding plaza. That prized plaza was damaged last Friday, when armed assailants attacked the university in an outburst of the peculiar violence that has come to define the Venezuelan capital.

The gunmen lit fires just outside the concert hall, attempted to force open its doors and cloaked the entryway in tear gas. Their intent, it appears, was to interrupt the tallying of votes from that day’s student-body government elections; the group destroyed machines used for counting and prevented students from delivering ballot boxes to the election committee. The academic departments in which votes were lost scheduled new elections for Wednesday, only to be stopped again with a second volley of tear gas.

The ant-Chavez candidates won anyway.

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