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Venezuela Update - July 30, 2004

By Alexandra Beech,

I am still collecting anecdotes about the process towards the referendum. I heard more interesting tidbits today. Apparently, fear plays a big factor in the poll results. Those who are polled at or near Chavista strongholds will invariably answer that they are planning to vote in favor of Chavez. Many are feeling even death threats, towards people that they perceive as wavering. Even though the pollsters are very competent, they are having trouble finding peole

Nelson Boccaranda, a respected if somewhat bombastic journalist who publishes a column in El Universal, wrote that he interviewed a young man who recently left a tech team lead by Infrastructure Minister Diosdado Cabello, due to the fraud that this team is planning. The man, who is currently in hiding alledges: that the computers lack sufficient memory to carry out the vote. The machine manufacturer gave the government a source code, which the government - through its computer experts - can re-program. The information transmitted from the voting centers will pass through a network which Cabello controls. The information will be intercepted allowing them to modify the time and (YES and NO) vote before being retransmitted to the National Elections Council. (El Universal, July 29, 2004)

Whether fable or truth, the story illustrates the high paranoia running through the country. I am going to call Boccaranda to get a better feel for the story.

Today, the electoral authorities finally announced the tally of the number of voters registered to vote in the recall referendum. The number is now a whopping 14,037,900, having increased by two million. Over 50,000 people will now be able to vote abroad.

An interesting sidenote is that the government´s oil union president said today that if the opposition wins, he will call for a general strike to stop the shipments of oil and byproducts to the United States. Noise, but interesting anyways...

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