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Venezuela invaded? The Carter Center and OAS booted out of Venezuela?

By Daniel Duquenal

Thrusday 13, May 2004 - Morning TV was abuzz with yesterday major news of Chavez declaring Venezuela invaded. But the pace kept going on this morning as the Electoral Board, CNE, demanded an apology from the OAS and Carter Center or else. Let’s go by parts.

Chavez installs the National Defense Council.

As incredulity keeps receiving the Sunday adventure, chavismo realizes that sending the usual revolutionary spokes people might not be enough. Not afraid of ridicule, the Great Leader convoked the National Defense Council because “Venezuela has been invaded”. This was of course a perfect opportunity for yet another cadena. No opportunity was wasted to criticize Colombia and the US, going as far as saying such things as "I have no proof but I am sure that". Well, a blogger might get away with such a statement but not the president of a country. And the Coordinadora Democratica wasted no time in condemning Chavez international gambling.

It is scary to see that Chavez seems only too ready to take the relations between Colombia and Venezuela to the brink. How desperate are these people? A possible answer next.

The Carter Center and the OAS run afoul of the CNE.

Two days ago the Carter Center issued a communiqué which diplomatically stated their concerns as to the course that was taking the signature repair process. It seems that this was not pleasant for the chavista members of the CNE. From El Universal English section:

The president of the National Electoral Council (CNE), Francisco Carrasquero, urged the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Carter Center to publicly apologize with the agency for their comments on the CNE's willingness to accept signature invalidation from "repentant" signers of the presidential recall petition.

Carrasquero warned that if the two organizations do not take their words back, the electoral authority will "reconsider" their performances during the referendum process.

Jorge Rodriguez said Thursday morning that he will "never again" attend any meeting with Francisco Diez of the Centro Carter and Marcelo Duarte of the OAS because of their "disloyalty."

The Carter Center and the OAS issued on Wednesday a joint declaration saying that "repentance" as a reason to withdraw a signature from a recall request is not among the international standards on the matter.

Well, as it happens that has been the latest trick tried out by the CNE, of which I spoke a few days ago discussing the many questions that must be addressed if a clean Repair Process is to be achieved. There is a little item in that declaration which can be seen as the "writing on the wall" for the CNE shenanigans, and probably explains why they decided to move to the offensive against the observers:

Both the OAS and The Carter Center are deeply concerned by reports of intimidation of signers. We reiterate that each individual signer should be able to freely exercise his/her right to reparo, without harassment or coercion, whether it is exercised directly, or indirectly through the deprivation of rights or benefits to which all should have equal access.

But how bad is the electoral situation for Chavez?

At the Central University of Venezuela, UCV, the internal elections ended up with the trashing of the chavista candidate by the anti Chavez candidate by a 4 to 1 count. The traditionally left leaning UCV has abandoned the ship.

Recent polls are more and more scary as they show a stalemate, Chavez being unable to make any headway no matter how much money he throws out to buy votes. The GQR poll for example show that Chavez would be losing the Recall Election and that around 90% of those that have to repair their signature will more than likely do so. But regional polls are hadly any more reassuring. The Chavez "Bete Noire" in Zulia, governor Rosales, is riding a very comfortable advance over his chavista opponent, 69% to 21% according to Consultores21. Even worse, the favorable opinion question gave a 28% for Chavez but a 60% for Rosales, establishing clearly that part of the Rosales vote is an anti Chavez vote.

The best strategy for chavismo seems to be shooting the messenger, a sure sign that their own unpublished polls are probably confirming all these numbers. Again let’s look at the English section of El Universal:

María Corina Machado, spokeswoman of the civil organization Sumate, appeared Wednesday before a national attorney [prosecutor] to testify in connection with the investigation about the alleged funding Sumate has received from the U.S. National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

Sumate, the organization that has processed the opposition's signatures to request a presidential recall, is not being investigated for electoral felonies but for treason, a crime that the Venezuelan law punishes with 20 to 30 years of prison.

Probably they will indict Ms. Machado from carrying fancy pastries to the paramilitary in Daktari farm.

Ah! Realismo Magico!

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