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An encounter with Venezuela's electoral chief Jorge Rodriguez, part II

By Aleksander Boyd

26.11.05 | The charm offensive displayed by Jorge Rodriguez, director of the electoral council in Venezuela (CNE), in the biometric's conference on October 20th in London, certainly was unexpected. I had thought about how to approach him, but his initiative took me by surprise. In retrospective I believe Rodriguez was simply trying to demonstrate, to the event's organizers, Cogent representatives and people in general, the theory that he is a considerate civil servant, deeply preoccupied in answering any doubts that Venezuelans may have with respect to automatic electoral processes and the institution he chairs.

More than a month has passed and neither Rodriguez nor Robert Gailing from Cogent Systems nor Mark Lockie -biometric conference organizer, have sent me the copy of the presentation made by Rodriguez as promised. Nor has Rodriguez answered the second question, that due to "time constraints," he never got to answer.

Rodriguez lied through his teeth during the conference. That, of course, was not cause of concern to Mr. Gailing and other industry representatives that were seeking to make some deal with the wealthy regime of Hugo Chavez. One of the most notorious lies uttered by Rodriguez was "we have taken measures to make audit processes public, thus permitting the opposition and interested parties to observe these..." Never mind article 169 of the Organic Law of Suffrage and Political Participation, passed on May 28 1998, that establishes that "scrutiny shall be public..."

Rodriguez expressed "concerns" about the electoral register, stressing that its data was not trustworthy -fault attributed to previous administrations, given the thousands of dead voters and people with double and triple identities that, still, were registered to vote. "An overhaul of the roll is in place" he said. Alas 8 days before the next elections, my mother's name, ID. 2122133 deceased in October 1983, is still in it. Then the case of the 2002 Gonzalez-family members born in the same day and year sends shivers through democratic spines; and to conclude, it was demonstrated this week, as Miguel reported, that the Smartmatic machines utilised in Venezuela, effectively keep the sequence of the vote in a file called "Last MFT Modification Time." When said file is reconciled with the data gathered by the fingerprint-catching machines, voter preference can be established very accurately indeed.

Taking into consideration the usage given to voter's data in the past, how can anyone -lest of course Jimmy Carter- trust results reported by the CNE?

Nonetheless Rodriguez made clear that they expected 10 million people to vote. In some bizarre slip MVR Deputy Luis Tascon also claimed recently that the candidates of the regime would get 10 million votes. Another extremely preocuppying factor is the fact that from 2006, all electoral processes to be had in Venezuela according to Rodriguez, shall be completely independent from the technological standpoint. To the 'chavista patriotic' crowd that's a victory; to me it means the regime will armourplate its electoral entity and processes in such a way that it shall never lose an election again.

The opposition, as ever, is counting on international observers' "mediation" to solve the issue, whilst a clueless OAS' Ruben Perina affirms "abstention damages democracy..." What a sorry and pathetic spectacle of lack of courage and integrity, no wonder why Chavez keeps 'winning' elections...

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