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Venezuela's CNE: He who protests too much …

By Veneconomy

People have to be very careful not to fall into the trap of giving too much importance to the dust that the National Electoral Council (CNE) has tried to raise with regard to the international observers from the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Carter Center.

The jarring attitude of the CNE’s president in threatening the international representatives with reconsidering their continued presence in the country is nothing more than an insult to all those Venezuelans who want a transparent process for ratifying their signatures.

The OAS and the Carter Center did nothing more than their job when they questioned the provision for “repentants,” a mechanism thought up by the government majority in the CNE for those who might want to withdraw their signatures from the petition for a recall referendum against President Hugo Chávez.

In the communiqué that gave rise to the ruckus, the OAS and the Carter Center simply pointed out the truth: that “the signature is like the vote, a single act expressing a person’s will and that cannot be change during ratification processes.” One million two hundred thousand signatures submitted by the opposition will be subject to ratification between May 28 and 30.

Allowing the interpretation that any possible “repentants” can withdraw their signatures would be an invitation to fraud. It is a matter of mere logic to think that the government, which has already dismissed hundreds of civil service workers for having signed against the president, could now intimidate those who have already expressed their wish for a referendum so that they come forward to say that they regret having done so. The ratification process is not a new voting process; it is an opportunity to correct any mistakes, not for a change of heart. The only interpretation that can be put on the CNE’s overreaction to the OAS’s and Center Carter’s observation is that it must have hit a nerve.

That is why it is important to avoid anything that could be used as a pretext by the dirty tricks brigade to further its strategy of discouraging people to come forward to ratify their signatures, as many of them will be prepared to do so because of the guarantee afforded by having the process watched over by Center Carter and OAS observers, a prerequisite, if you will, to ensure a massive turn out.

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