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How many signatures did both sides get for the recall election in Venezuela?

By Daniel Duquenal, Tuesday 2, December 2003

I have been driving all day, I am rather tired so I will try to make this as fast as possible. Fortunately I have been away from most news so that should help.

THE BAD NEWS

IT seems that we will not have reached the 4 million mark, after all. Right now the numbers advanced are floating between 3.6 and 3.8 million. I suspect that what happened to the estimated numbers I posted yesterday was the result of the impatience of people, as usual. But this should not be really alarming.

1) The “itinerantes” numbers estimate have probably well over estimate. It is a tough way to collect signatures. This way to collect signatures, door to door, was calculated to cover 15 % of the total to collect and I suspect that they did not reach their share. Let’s say that a good 1 hundred thousand went this way.

2) As the signatures of Sunday and Monday were being collected, the Coordinadora Democratica (CD) organization probably started screening the results of Friday and Saturday and probably removed a lot of deficient material. Another 2 o3 hundred thousand more?

3) A lot of reporting was done phone wise and was probably faulty. Local estimates might have been bigger in some areas than others. A couple hundred more could have been shaved off there. The sum of it all dropped to the current 3.6-3.8 that circulates.

The CD has not made an “official” announcement and will do so when they have finished to screen all the collected signatures. This is as well as going on record announcing 4 million + and then making it below the 4 million mark. I suspect also that the CD is not unhappy that we have not reached the 4 million. It will be a little bit easier for chavistas to swallow the bad news. After all, what matters is that we reached the recall election. For that 2.5 certified signatures are enough.

THE GOOD NEWS

Well, if we did not make it to 4, these preliminary corrections are actually good news since they would certify that we have more than 3 million SOLID signatures. With an electoral population database that has not been well corrected for dead people and the risks incurred by giving one’s name against Chavez, this 3 million is really solid, as I explained yesterday. I would have loved to reach the 4 million but with anything SOLID above 3 million I will be very, very, VERY happy. I dare any country collect 25% of their electorate signatures in 4 days!

The other good news is that the government got stuck on its original numbers for their own collection two week ends ago. And intensify their line of attack today. Both things confirming their discomfiture.

1) Since the Vice President pompous 7+ million declaration (as if all forms were fully signed while NO CHAVISTA CENTER RAN OUT OF FORMS), they have not been able to put their act together and their numbers fluctuate wildly around 2 to 4 million. And they have not been able to provide the Electoral Board with all their collected signatures, maintaining their ridiculous drop wise show.

2) The attacks on OAS secretary Gaviria and Carter Center representative have started. They are accused of being rude and partial. The attacked parties have remained very calm, backing their observers and asking for Chavez and his cronies to bring any proof they might have to the electoral board. This one by the way seems to be coming under attack from Chavez, probably hoping that it will do the dirty job for Chavez. We’ll see. But such attacks, from pale and disorganized spokespersons only tell one thing: they know the truth and there are desperate to escape the dark reality that is closing on them. Meanwhile it seems that Gaviria has decided to stay a couple more of days. Hummm….

On the road I heard on the radio that Gaviria was very impressed by what has been taking place in Venezuela for the last 10 days. He would have gone as far as to congratulate some friends of the incredible show of democratic disposition of the Venezuelan people. I doubt that he will let Chavez get away with fraud of his own making.

THE INTERESTING NEWS

The CD has already admitted that it did not collect enough signatures for all the chavista assemblymen questioned, only 2/3 of the targeted ones will be on the recall ballot. This is very interesting:

1) Although crowds were bigger for the opposition than for the government drive, this last one claims to have collected all that it needs and then more. We are of course waiting for the official forms that have not been all furnished yet.

2) This indicates that the resentment against Chavez is real and that many chavistas probably signed, but did not sign to revoke their representatives. Danger for the opposition ahead? Could this signatures revert to Chavez?

3) The recall drive for assembly men was conducted by old Accion Democratica (AD) and many of the CD members were opposed to that as a waste of time: the real problem is Chavez, once he is removed from office the chavista hair thin majority at the assembly will more than likely break up. Since AD is a rather discredited actor of the pre-Chavez era, that might have something to do with the lower turn out at the assemblymen level.

4) And of course it helps project a more “honest” image for the opposition thus making their collection against Chavez more real for opposing chavistas.

That is all for tonight. Tomorrow I’ll read the papers and hopefully will have more “solid” results to report. But no matter what, we have the signatures, and this is all that mattered. Now to force Chavez to accept a recall election. Or wait for what trick he has under his sleeve.

 



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