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Local News From Venezuela

By Sol Maria Castro,

Updates on Verification Process of Presidential Recall Referendum Petition after 76 days.

ARTÍCLE 22. The forms constitute the petition to convoke the recall referendum and should include:

1. Name, last name, and position the official whose mandate is to revoke, as well as indication of the inauguration date of said official.

2. Legible name, last name, ID number, date of birth, name of the electoral circumscription, original handwritten signature and fingerprint of the electors petitioning the activation of the recall referendum of mandate.

The petition to convoke the referendum is a very personal act; therefore, power of representation or authorization to sign for another one will not be allowed.

ARTICLE 31: The National Electoral Council will publish in at least, one printed national medium the results of the process of validation to which Numeral 3, Article 28 refers, indicating the numbers of the identity cards of the referendum petitioners. In a five continuous day period following the publication, the signatory who was rejected could go to the National Electoral Council personally, to repair any material error in which the Electoral Administration may have incurred during the verification of his data. Otherwise, the rejection will remain firm. Likewise, the elector who alleges he did not sign the form, could go to the National Electoral Council to requests his immediate exclusion from the total of firms. In both cases, the National Electoral Council will publish the format of the communications through which the electors will make their requests.

From the Referendum Norms passed by the National Electoral Council on September 25, 2003.

Situation report:

· Fatalities: Since Friday 15 people shot dead (10 confirmed with names and location):

· Wounded: 560 and over 233 suffocated

· Arrested: 360 people arrested nationwide, including some missing. 47 in Caracas (including Carlos Melo, CD Street Action coordinator, who appeared in court yesterday, and Mayor Capriles Radonsky’s two escorts who were transferred with two other people to El Rodeo jail). Many have been victims of torture “electric shocks, blows to the head and back, cold water showers, humiliations, food and water deprivation, etc.

· Road Blockades: Today no road blockades have been reported though there are still protests in some cities in the provinces.

· Others: At least, two judges have been dismissed for freeing people who were found banging pots and pans on the streets or building barricades since Friday. Minister of Defense denies application of Avila Plan (military plan in which troops are deployed when police authorities are exceeded). However, military presence (troops and armored vehicles) can be seen throughout Caracas and major cities.

· Upcoming Demonstrations: a vigil outside the OAS representation headquarters in Caracas to request their good offices to free the many arrested and confined Thursday evening. A march from Chuao to the OAS on Friday. A national march to protest the arrests and violations to human rights, and the CNE decisions on Saturday.

CD insists repair applicable only following Norms approved.

This Wednesday, Pompeyo Márquez, leader of the umbrella opposition group Democratic Coordinator, CD, read a document on behalf of the CD, in which the democratic opposition insists it can only accept to go to repair if only the Norms approved by the National Electoral Council in September and November (before the petition drive) are enforced. Márquez admitted there are conversations with the CNE to “see if it is possible to save the recall referendum.” Among the many proposals under discussion are: to increase the number of days of repair, to have more than one computer and counter in each of the 2,700 centers depending on the number of people to go to repair by center, to receive and compare the information the CNE has with that of the CD to understand the difference of over 350,000 signatures which are missing at this point, to change the status of repair to ratification and consider the signatures valid, therefore placing the burden of proof on the council, and to determine what to do with those who signed the itinerant petitions.

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