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By Daniel Duquenal

(or a lawyer, as the case might be). The Venezuelan fraud issue is certainly not going to go away like that, wishful thinking and all. The Electoral Board, CNE, seems to get a little bit tired of these talks. Well, one of them anyway.

Let's revisit quickly the CNE composition. Two, Zamora and Mejias, are in the "opposition", meaning that they consistently vote in the 2 to 3 partiality. Their opposition is simply not accepting the unacceptable, amply documented by the OAS as recently as yesterday, again, by the Brazilian ambassador that was supposed to defend Chavez a few days ago. In his report Pecly Moreira points out that it would have been better for the CNE to collaborate a little bit more. In "diplomatese" this barb is for the majority of 3. Ah! And supreme insult, he suggested that the electoral system should be brought "up to date". This is not going to go down well for the defenders of the "best" constitution in the world and the "best and most honest" electoral system in Venezuelan history.

On the 3 side of the 3 to 2 chasm, we have one that is a confessed chavista hack. Battaglini has no qualms presenting the most outrageous ideas and opinions, and wastes no time defending them. He also does not pretend to be more than what he is, an apparatchick. The supposed president, Carrasquero, looks more and more like the little provincial lawyer that made good and who is waiting for his award, a 12 year sinecure in the High Court. Little people both.

Which bring to the real head of the CNE, and thus the one really responsible for all that the CNE has done, legally or illegally. Rodriguez is a psychiatrist whose father was a political victim a few decades ago. Thus he has always been opposed to whoever was in office before Chavez. This rather not promising qualification to become a fair electoral arbiter is not helped by the lust for the limelight that Rodriguez seems to have acquired since his nomination one year ago. Quite often he has come to the cameras only to dig his hole deeper, such as when he was furious at Carter sneaking at night in the CNE while Rodriguez minions were up to no good. This attitude (should we call it a narcissistic?) is not improving.

It seems that poor Rodriguez could not take it anymore and, very unprofessionally, went to TV yesterday, no less than as a "cadena", to a strange mix of complaint, defense and attack. As a school marm he lectured the country that there was no fraud and that if talk of that persisted he would sue those who dared. Of course, he did not bother responding clearly to the very serious allegations of the report submitted to the CNE and promptly rejected without serious review (a few hours could not be enough to evaluate seriously pages and pages, but when has the CNE bothered with hard data and dire reality!).

The least one can say after such a TV presentation is to wonder what kind of shrink Rodriguez was and how his patients left his office... But one thing that we need not to bother with is Rodriguez legal mind: a lawyer he ain't!

A few minutes ago Tulio Alvarez gave Rodriguez his due. Not only Alvarez quickly and precisely deconstructed all the braggadocio of Rodriguez, reducing it to hot air, but he went further. First, how could Rodriguez try to debunk the legal complexities of the Alvarez report when he not only rejected it out right but apparently did not even read it (Rodriguez addressed stuff that was not even in the report but somewhere else!). Further Alvarez warned that the 2 CNE directors that are always in the minority should reconsider their stay in the board: their constant opposition actually is validating all the shenanigans going inside the CNE. I have to agree with Alvarez there, Zamora and Mejias should have realized by now that they are the excuse behind which all the fraudulent actions take place. I even wonder what kind of access they have to what is going on. Apparently the CNE board meetings are rarer and rarer, letting all sorts of subcomissions doing the work and the reunions are quick meetings where the 3/2 majority decides stuff without debate. Indeed, what do Zamora and Mejias bring?

And to end with a flourish Alvarez told Rodriguez that he was going to have to put a lot of people in jail as the fraud talk was not going to go away, even with his more than unbecoming verbal violence.

Indeed, there are few people as discredited as Rodriguez in Venezuela. Even chavistas will not go and defend him, or will do so the way they would defend a well paid mercenary. His carving for the limelight has made Rodriguez the lighting rod of the fraud accusations and the country places on him the burden of the fraud if there was fraud, whichever side there are.

This blogger thinks, by the way, that Rodriguez is the big artifice of all this mess. EVEN IF there was no fraud on August 15, Rodriguez has done all what he could possibly do to favor the chavista side and thus compromise the result. Even if we remove the possible fraud on August 15 there are enough elements to put Rodriguez under investigation, that is, in a normal country. These elements come from the day where he called people that signed for the referendum crooks (only to be proven wrong in May 2004) to deciding on his own to buy all sorts of electoral devices without fair bidding or technical studies in which all parts would be witnesses.

Rodriguez is wrong, it is not the opposition that claims fraud that should be sued, it is himself that should get sued for not doing his job properly, from blocking justice, from abusing his power, and a few more things. The crimes are committed by those who can commit them, and certainly Rodriguez was in much better position than the opposition to commit electoral crimes.

And with these lines, this blogger puts himself on the list of people to get sued. That is OK, I am sure that I will have very intellectually stimulating discussions in jail with Tulio Alvarez and the team investigating fraud. Anything but the couch of Rodriguez!

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