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To participate or not...

By Aleksander Boyd

30.11.05 | Interesting things are happening, at last, in the Land of Grace. There's widespread consensus in Venezuela about the deceitful and cheating nature of Jorge Rodriguez and his electoral council (CNE), chock full of chavistas. There's also the deep rooted belief that no matter what concessions Rodriguez says he will make, the fix is in. As such very few people will take part in the pseudo election for Assemblymen on Sunday. To be frank, I am ecstatic. Having had the opportunity to meet Jorge Rodriguez in the flesh I am absolutely convinced that none of the promises of this individual are worth taken seriously, even by an extremely discredited opposition.

It saddens me to see intelligent people that I appreciate very much, still believing that voting, under the present circumstances, continues to represent an alternative in Venezuela. Again they are going round in circles discussing the technical aspects and the cheating probabilities available to the CNE. From where I stand, things look crystal clear though. Opposition parties broke a fragile unity pact with the sole goal of impeding chavista candidates to win more than 2/3 of the Assembly seats. The reason being that should that dreaded prospect come to be, Chavez will be able to amend the constitution, reelect himself indefinitely and pass all sorts of revolutionary laws that will, most definitely, do away with the already shredded Venezuelan democracy.

In light of the discovery that the Smartmatic machines keep the sequence of the vote, which was demonstrated beyond reasonable doubts to international observers from the OAS and the EU by Venezuelan technicians, most political parties decided to withdraw from the race. The only two ones that persist in participating are Primero Justicia (Justice First ?) and Nuevo Tiempo -party of Manuel Rosales, Governor of Zulia state.

Many conclusions derive from the above paragraph:

1) In spite of having witnessed how technicians revealed how voters a, b, c, d, e... voted, in a simulated event that took place last Wednesday, OAS and EU observers are yet to declare upon the matter. Why?

2) The findings shattered the feeble opposition unity, prompting withdrawal from all but two parties. What this means is that the initial goal of preventing Chavez's candidates from winning a 2/3 majority in the Assembly, becomes unreachable. Why, and at what cost, are Primero Justicia and Nuevo Tiempo still in the race?

3) The CNE has lost all semblance of credibility. This time hopefully for good. Nonetheless Chavez very much needs opposition parties to turn out in order to maintain his nonsensical charade about leading a democratic state. It is urgent for him to reiterate that the sole condition that seems valuable enough to determine whether a given country is a democracy, i.e. elections, still occur in Venezuela with massive attendance from all quarters. Well, by the looks of it one has to guess that that's not going to happen this time. Ergo the chavista goal of proudly announcing to the globe next Monday of a 10 million-voter turnout won't fly.

4) Opposition parties, albeit in complete disarray, have recoup some leverage and bargaining power. Should they be shrewd enough to use it intelligently, they can, effectively, condition their participation in electoral events. If I were them, I would ask for Rodriguez's head and impose returning to manual voting. Another thing the political parties ought to do with their newly acquired power is to demand immediate statements and reports from international observers.

In any case, Chavez's revolution is in deep shit from a democratic standpoint. If Primero Justicia and Nuevo Tiempo have any respect for the people they say they represent they ought to withdraw and allow the world to see the Emperor in its magnificent nakedness. But then again, knowing the characters, that's mere wishful thinking.

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