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Hugo Chavez' For The Time Being (Por Ahora) II

By Víctor García Crespo

It was more than predictable that Hugo Chávez's ambition for controlling every social institution and implanting his political agenda would lead him to avoid, at any cost, being removed from office by a ballot driven backslash. He did well. After being submitted to a recall he came out victorious and claimed victory with 58% majority. Dressed in a red shirt, he appeared on the balcony of the Miraflores presidential palace and roared "The Venezuelan people have spoken and the people's voice is the voice of God!"

Fortunately, everyone knows God never gets involved in the dirty tricks and unmoral actions of human beings. He detaches himself from this kind of unauthorized use of his name, and he does that, not through divine intervention, but by leaving to others to unfold the truth. We are now learning that this truth is deeply disturbing. We already know that on August 15th, the voice of Venezuelans was silenced through a bastard mechanism whose aim was to disenfranchise voters who were unlikely to vote for Chávez, distort electoral boundaries and thus, divert the sacred will of the majority of Venezuelan people towards the interest of a revolution in which they just do not believe and therefore, they did not vote for.

Of course Hugo Chávez would have wanted to emulate Fidel Castro's approach and technique of manipulating elections while simultaneously arresting and imprisoning opponents and their supporters. Unfortunately for him, he was democratically elected and had little choice but to accept the recall referendum in order to maintain some semblance of legitimacy. Thus, he decided to subvert the voting process through a sophisticated and multi-faceted fraud.

In his revolutionary mind the reasoning was very simple. All that was needed was: 1) Control of the company that provides the electronic voting machines and vote counting software; 2) Legislate for the adoption of such systems throughout, and provide the funding for the purchase of these systems; 3) Politicize their supervision by appointing a National Electoral Council subservient to the interest of the government; 4) Increase the number of people registered to vote, while at the same time illegally excluding and relocating opposition voters by using data obtained from previous recall petition drives; 5) Install a way out, in the vote counting systems, so that the system, already designed to manipulate the tabulation of results in real time as they are coming in, can function according to planning 6) Establish a system of vote counting and auditing, tailor made to the plan that not only effectively prevent the intervention of third parties from seeing what is "really happening" but, most importantly, is "good enough" to convince international observers about the "merits" of the system and "fairness of the process."

Just until today, "the Chávez system" has worked. Since the details of the fraud have not been completely explained and demonstrated, Hugo Chávez still believes he has minimized the risks of discovery and can claim his permanence in office is the result of a democratic process which has been endorsed by international observers. However, we have reasons to believe that his claim is just "for the time being." The preliminary report of the study group that has been appointed to get to the bottom of what seems to be the biggest rigging of an electoral process in Venezuelan history, has already provided enough indications of fraud to make us believe that further research into the matter, would irremediably lead to show the illegitimacy of Hugo Chávez as President of Venezuela.

We should not expect any rebuttal from the government, except for the use of the usual adjectives such as xenophobes, oligarchs and the likes; sooner or later they will be compelled to do so. In the meantime, the opposition possesses the evidence needed not only to continue searching for the truth but, equally important, to grind the political strategy in the upcoming regional elections. The opposition knows that Hugo Chávez and his supporters will not stop to gain ever-greater amounts of power by whatever means possible and damn the consequences.

Nowadays, the "Bolivarian Revolution" is the best revolution that money can buy. Against this fact the opposition has to attend the upcoming elections with the hope that their participation is a means not only to rest and limit the government's scope of power but mainly, to support the claim about the fraudulent referendum that confirmed Hugo Chávez as a President.

Professor Carlos Blanco has made an interesting proposal: How about everyone remain at their electoral precinct until the votes are thoroughly counted? Article 169 of the Electoral Law states: "The scrutiny of voter acts (actas) will be of public character. Access to interested persons must be permitted to the premises where the votes will be counted without more limitations then the ones derived from the physical ones that condition the ordinary use of these premises and from the security of the electoral act. The electoral and military authorities will be in charge of fulfilling this disposition. In the selection of the premises where the counting will be carried out will prevail, not only the considerations of technical character for the best development of the process, but those addressed to guarantee the public character that this law establishes." Therefore, barring a violation of the law, the government cannot deny this right.

Lastly, I would like to answer a question that a friend of mine, who happens to support Hugo Chávez, put forward to me: How about if the fraud did no exist? Being an academic myself my answer has to be the same I read somewhere: "For having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged by better information, or further consideration to change opinions even on important subjects, which I once thought right, but found to be otherwise." Yes, I could change my belief that there was a fraud. All the government has to do is to recount all the votes. And please, do not count the tampered ones.

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