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Venezuela: stage set for another electoral fraud

By Aleksander Boyd

London 02.08.05 | Some sources report an odd meeting a few days ago in Caracas' military base Fort Tiuna. The assistants: President Hugo Chavez, VP Jose Vicente Rangel, electoral chief Jorge Rodriguez, Minister of Defence Orlando Maniglia and Smartmatic's 'wunderkinds' Antonio Mujica and Alfredo Anzola. The get together was called by Chavez on July 12 to have the number of votes in the coming elections fixed, for chavista democracy must be showcased to the world as a thriving one. And what better than 10 million votes to prove it?

Which leads quite nicely to the next point. USAID has got an "indefinite quantity contract" (IQC), with an organization called IFES (International Foundation for Election Systems) [1, page 30]. In June 1998, the National Electoral Council (CNE) of Venezuela contracted IFES to renew and make recommendations regarding proposals for an automated voting system in Venezuela [2, page 29]. The Carter Center is the sole sub contractor of IFES for the purpose of "To support the transition to, and consolidation of, democratic governments through which citizens choose their leaders and participate in all levels of political decision-making, particularly in transition and sustainable development countries" [sic], as can be seen following link 1. According to Smartmatic "Caribbean Government Consultants (CGC) will contribute with its experience of more than 20 years in electoral processes in 23 countries, to Smartmatic's electoral automation technology. CGC is highly recommended by international organizations like the UN, the OAS and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, IFES. The acquisition of the group strengthens the company's incursion in the electoral automation market" [3]. Jorge Tirado, CGC's president has been contracted by IFES in the past [4].

Hence a former contractor of IFES currently sits in Smartmatic's board and gossip has it that he is also involved in the business of hedge funds. Given the long career of Tirado regarding electoral processes, his contractual past with IFES and possible recommendations to Venezuela's CNE vis-a-vis electronic voting -read Smartmatic- and the fact that the Carter Center is the sole subcontractor of IFES for elections and political processes, how could Smartmatic-run elections or observation missions deployed by the Carter Center even pretend to be fair and independent? The electoral observation joint conducted by the peanut farmer got paid handsomely, by USAID through IFES, to monitor the recall referendum in Venezuela, which he failed to do, pressed, as he was, to return to sing happy birthday to Mrs. Carter. Perhaps a suit for breach of contract is in order. How about the hedging possibilities of knowing in advance who will win an election?

And continuing with electoral frauds, Chavez's sycophants made arrangements to host the 16th World Youth Festival starting just one day after municipal elections next Sunday, event which estimates suggest will draw 15.000 youngsters sympathetic to the chavista revolution from around the world. At the same time the latest army officer's graduating class are holidaying in Cuba, where they are to meet their commander, er their patron. Would it be wild to think that Castro's mini me is setting the stage for another 'resounding victory' at the polls, but, just in case, is counting on some 'adolescents' to hit the streets should things get rough?

Sumate has already stated the impossibility of free and democratic elections in Venezuela; we are in for another fraud...

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