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Venezuela: Local News Review 15/09/04

By Sol Castro,

· Headlines at one blow

o Opposition will hold different actions tomorrow to protest the RRP fraud while the government party, MVR, invited today to celebrate first month victory.

o CNE is considering whether they will allow candidate substitution for the regional elections to be held October 31. A proposal to be discussed in the next directorate is the creation of 577 new voting centers nationwide which will imply reallocating voters to create 24,142 automatized stations, from 8,142 presently.

o Venezuelan Energy Minister in Vienna told reporters Venezuela is ruling out increasing OPEC quotas or changing price range.

o Venezuelan Energy and Mines Ministry is to open a tender to offer seven gas blocks in the Gulf of Venezuela and Falcón State by the end of the month. Scheduled for August it had to be postponed since the information to bidders is still under preparation. 23 companies have shown interest in bidding.

· CNE celebrates anniversary while it keeps silence over impugnation.

The Electoral Power began its week long celebration of its fourth anniversary yesterday. Jorge Rodríguez, one of the directors at the National Electoral Council, said during one of the acts, that he cannot advance anything about the impugning action since he is part of the directorate. He reminded reporters they “received a document from the Coordinadora Democrática last Friday and have 20 days to know of it. Battaglini, a director also, affirmed he will not inhibit since he is “not a jurist or part of a court of law.”

· Siren chants fall in deaf ears in Venezuelans.

Luis Vicente León, executive director of a polling company estimates the opposition could easily win the regional elections in Miranda, Zulia, and Carabobo States, with a good chance in Nueva Esparta, Táchira, Mérida and Anzoátegui States and the Capital District while the chavismo would win in Aragua, Barinas, Trujillo, Portuguesa, Cojedes, Lara, Guárico, Delta Amacuro, Falcón and Vargas. León said he cannot call results in Monagas, Apure, Bolívar and Sucre States. However, polls in opposition forums and TV shows continue to show an intention not to vote until the accusations against the CNE for a rigged PRR are cleared.

· Government party promises to win regional elections by landslide.

William Lara, MVR affirmed the government will win at least 22 governorships, 300 mayor offices, including the metropolitan area of Caracas, and most local legislative councils on October 31 thanks “to the cascade effect derived from the presidential recall referendum.” He announced the release of the Kino-Chávez 2004, a crib sheet with the names and pictures of the candidates Chávez endorses “to case the elections”, i.e., for people to know how to vote. Besides the picture of Hugo Chávez next to the candidate, a caption will read “these are the true chavistas.” The campaign motto will be, “Venezuela changed for ever.

· Government continues creating parallel structures: new telecommunication company authorized.

Information and Communication Minister Andrés Izarra informed reporters Hugo Chávez signed a decree authorizing the creation of a new telecommunication company: CVG-Telecommunications, comprised by government CVG (Venezuelan Guayana Corporation) and Edelca (Energy), as part of a bigger telecommunication project to be developed in the next two years.

· Government party (MVR) finally gets a minister in cabinet.

The government party’s Tactic Command, CNT, expressed its satisfaction at new minister’s appointment and considered it a reinforcement of the trust Chávez has on the government party. On Sunday, during his television and radio show, Hugo Chávez created a new Ministry of Economy for the People, to be headed by Elias Jaua, a member of the government’s MVR. All other ministers are mostly held by one of the government’s allies, PPT, or former military officers serving under Chávez when he was in the Army or family members of the latter. Jaua, who was Minister of the Secretary in 2001, and was dismissed due to differences with Vice-President Cabello, will be monitoring INCE, the Cooperatives Superintendence, the Micro-Finance Development Fund, and the People’s and Women’s Banks.

· OAS Secretary General mails his report and admits nothing achieved in Venezuela.

On Monday, OAS Secretary General, César Gaviria, mailed his report, on the Venezuelan case to the representatives of the member countries of the organization, instead of formally presenting it to the Permanent Council as should have been the case and was announced. In his report, drafted by himself with the help of Fernando Jaramillo and Valter Pecly, the heads of the OAS mission in Caracas, Gaviria acknowledges the situation in Venezuela is still fluid after the recall referendum, warning that “divisions and gaps that seem impossible to overcome” are emerging again. The Secretary General concludes his term regretting the RR was not the electoral, peaceful, democratic and constitutional solution expected and hoping the climate in Venezuela does not lead to violent events again. The report ends by recommending changes or updates of some electoral laws to make sure there is no room for “different interpretations of rules.” Although he states the process that resulted in the August 15 PRR proved to be “complex, thorny, and not very reliable,” he regrets the opposition has not accepted the results. The members of the Liaison Follow-up Commission to the Agreements of the Table of Negotiations, Aguiar and Zambrano called Gaviria’s report precise and a lesson to both the government and the opposition. Both believe the report opens a possibility for the opposition to file their claim on the rigged results of August 15. Gaviria is to be replaced by former Costa Rican President Miguel Angel Rodríguez on September 23. The report can be read here in Spanish [PDF].

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