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Venezuela's Recall Election on the tightest of ropes

By Daniel Duquenal

Friday 23, April 2004 - It is almost consummated. The day started with the expected decision from the Constitutional Court. They annulled again the Electoral Court decision. And they stated point blank that the Full Court had no business meddling in this business. Thus hoping to scare the other judges from trying some move to that effect. A confession that they know they do not have the majority in the Full Court.

Now of course it remains for the other 15 Justices to decide whether they will allow the Constitutional Court set such a precedent. If they acquiesce, then the judicial coup will be complete and justice in Venezuela will have ceased. Quite simple. (In English)

After lunch time the Electoral Board, with some of them sporting big smiles courtesy of the Constitutional Court, organized a silly ceremony where they FINALLY gave the results of the signature drives of November 2003.

The opposition limited itself to declare that now they will examine the rules and the data of what needs to be repaired. They hoped to emit a declaration as to whether they will accept the deal sometime Monday.

Chavismo was more direct. The ineffable William Lara stated that they would track down the contested signatures and they would try to talk to signataries into withdrawing the signatures or desist from validating. He seemed quite confident that he would manage to derail at least 250 000 signatures and thus sink once and for all the Recall Election. As to the ethical aspect of it, not a cloud on his mind.

One thing that is still curious for me, is the strange contrast between confidence and doubts on occasion from chavista spokespersons, including Chavez who two days ago told his supporters to get ready in case the "unthinkable" would come to pass, that is, if a Recall Election electoral campaign must indeed take place. Do they really think that there is a real chance that in the last inning the opposition will pull the trick? Or is it just psychological talk to influence the opposition and make them accept verification rules that most people think are too harsh, even undoable?

Maybe we are finally going to get some real answers soon. Even if we might not like them, it is still better to know the answers.

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