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Venezuela's Hugo Chavez: Let OAS and Carter Center check everything

By Alfredo Rojas, El Universal

Chávez showed Carter "evidences" of the fraud that he alleges his foes committed during the signature collection. In his account of former U.S. President Carter's visit to Miraflores, Chávez described Eduardo Fernández and Claudio Fermín as part of a "rational and democratic opposition."

President Hugo Chávez impressed everyone on Monday, when he openly accepted that the international observers of the Organization of American States (OAS) and The Carter Center "check everything" during the verification process of the recall vote petition against him.

"I have nothing to fear," he said after meeting in his office of the Miraflores Presidential Palace with former U.S. President Jimmy Carter.

"In behalf of the Venezuelan people and honesty, I want everything checked, even under the carpets. I have no problem, no nationalist complex that the OAS and The Carter Center review everything, because we have nothing to hide. It is rather the opposition who is trying to hide a huge fraud," he added.

However, Chávez suggested that he was making this concession because It was "a special case."

In Chávez' account of the meeting with the former U.S. President, he said that Carter's "eyes got wide open" when looking at the "evidences" of the opposition's fraud.

"But not even one leader of the opposition has said that they will respect whichever decision the National Electoral Council (CNE) will make," Chávez stressed.

The President said he had even invited Carter to stay in Venezuela for as long a time as he wished and bring "a hundred persons from The Carter Center to examine everything, every single computer." He added that his only objective was that the process and the results were "absolutely transparent."

Chávez also said that he had asked Francisco Diez, top representative of The Center Carter in Venezuela, if they had had any obstacle to perform their observation work in the CNE. "Nothing at all," Chávez quoted Diez as saying.

Commenting that he has also seen Fernando Jaramillo, chief of staff of the OAS, make the same statement, the President expressed his surprise for the "great media display" that surrounded the complaints of the CNE Directors Ezequiel Zamora and Sobella Mejías about irregularities in the signature verification process.

"These two (CNE) directors, like snipers, were obeying orders from opposition leaders," he commented. "But (the CNE's President Francisco) Carrasquero was right to answer that they hurried too much. All decisions had been made by consensus, but they wanted to break the calm in the (CNE)."

Chávez also pointed out that "luckily" there is a "rational and democratic" sector in the opposition, and mentioned Social-Christian Copei party's President Eduardo Fernández, and the Social Democrat Acción Democrática (AD) party's famed leader Claudio Fermín.

Describing Fermín as his "fellow countryman" and "a plausible presidential candidate," he explained that his announced nomination for the Metropolitan Mayor's Office indicates Fermín's acceptance "that there will be no election."

"He will run for the Metropolitan Mayor's Office, probably thinking of a future election," Chávez commented.

Translated by Edgardo Malaver



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