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Is the Electoral Fraud in Venezuela consummated?

By Daniel Duquenal

Tuesday March 2, 2004 - The Electoral Board (CNE) has just given the announcement that all but shot down the Recall Election process. Indeed, the conditions set up forward make it extremely difficult for the requesting parties to fulfill the quota set, in spite of some last minute concessions. In other words, with the dispositions to be taken in the next two days between the concerned parties we will know if there is a realistic chance to bring the process to any useful end.

The first observation is that the president of the CNE, Carrasquero, gave a cadena to announce the results. 1.8 million valid signatures, and diverse numbers of signatures assigned different status out of which will be determined the signatures to be "repaired".

The second thing is that right after the cadena, which was pre recorded, the "real" president, Mr. Rodriguez, came out alone of the rectors for the press conference. Accompanied with a substitute rector so as not to be alone, I suppose. During his press conference he even refused to acknowledge the fact that the decision was taken by only 3 of the 5 rectors. This is rather amazing!!!! Refusing to say publicly who voted for or against.

We can already conclude that the 2 rectors that supposedly represent the interests of the opposition are from now on going to be ignored. Ezequiel Zamora and Sobella Mejias are probably going to wonder what role should they have. Now we must wait for the declarations of the Carter Center and OAS, and those of the Coordinadora Democratica to see if they will accept the challenge.

Now, what is wrong with the repair process? A preliminary comment.

1- The onus is put on the people that signed: they have to prove that they indeed signed, that they did not commit fraud. Any normal judicial and legal system states that every person good faith has to prevail and it is to the public administration to demonstrate that fraud has been committed. In other words the CNE decision violates the law of the land. Appealing to it is a risky game with the judicial system we have in Venezuela who does not accept any more class action suits. The 800 000 people rejected will have to come INDIVIDUALLY to the High Court for redress. And not mentioning that the judicial system has already proven a clear bent towards chavismo.

2- The complexity of the process, the burdensome extras added by the CNE make the whole system more complex and more expensive than a normal election!!!

3- People will apparently be allowed to desist from their signature. You can imagine the pressures from the government once it has the official listing of people that must repair their signature…

There is more, but I want to post this now and gather more information for a more detailed analysis at a later point.

There is a silver lining, almost comical. Apparently the valid signatures are 1.8 million and the signatures going for repair are as many as 1.1 million. The signatures given by the opposition were 3.4 million. So, where is the Chavez constantly repeated "megafraud"? The numbers do not match. The most megafraud that could appear is 3.4 –(1.8 +1) = 0.6 million since the 1 million to be repaired are admitted as being able to be repaired if people show up to do so! Not to mention that surely the opposition will appeal at least part of the 0.6 already rejected. Indeed if there were a real megafraud by now the CNE would have discovered it. Actually Rodriguez almost said so to a pro Chavez journalist that stated in his question "now that the fraud has been uncovered, what will happen?" Rodriguez replied that at this time they had only some hints of fraud. A diplomatic way to say "forget about the megafraud! Some fraud? Sure! Megafraud? There is nothing!". It speaks volumes of how the chavismo mind works that still at this point, with the official declaration and numbers of a CNE that did its best to downplay the opposition totals, a journalist (?) still repeats the party line as if unable to comprehend what is in front of them.

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