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On Teodoro Petkoff's candidature

By Aleksander Boyd

London 22.04.06 | The Venezuelan political lansdcape is in such pathetic state that the official announcement made by Teodoro Petkoff regarding his participation in the presidential race this year has been greeted with sheer contentedness, almost in all quarters. Repeating past errors, Venezuelans have, yet again, choose to ignore former deeds and credentials of the latest candidate to join the race. And in times like these, I conclude that my countrymen deserve Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro and any other disgrace brought upon by their own stupidity.

As readers of this site may have realised, Petkoff is no saint of my devotion. The fact that he was a Marxist guerrillero once upon a time and purportedly participated, along with Cubans, in the Machurucuto invasion in 1967 is more than enough for me to distrust the man for good. By mere coincidence me and my wife lived, years ago, in her grand father's house. From him, founder of Partido Comunista de Venezuela (PCV) and guerrilla comrade, I heard many first hand accounts of Petkoff's opportunistic and duplicitous nature. Aside from these Petkoff has devoted his entire life to communist and leftist ideals.

But let me clarify something, my dismissal of Petkoff has got nothing to do with whatever he did when he was a clueless adolescent, working hard to cede the world's control to Fidel Castro-type of rulers. Rather his recent actions are cause of great concern. For instance, being a man who commands a wealth of information about the country's political situation, he strongly advocated and lobbied opposition actors to stay in the legislative race of last December, in spite of knowing, probably first hand owing to his affiliation to electoral observation NGO Ojo Electoral, that e-voting Smartmatic machines have been rigged, as demonstrated in the presence of local and international observers on November 23 in Fila de Mariches, all along. He went on to express that the opposition's withdrawal from the legislative election would affect, as it did, the democratic image of Hugo Chavez abroad, calling for the postponement of elections.

He will now participate in an electoral contest whose conditions, need be stressed, have not changed nor will they, that is to say, the same rigged Smartmatic machines shall be used, with the aggravant that this time round no respected international body is keen on observing the process. Worse still, as Venezuela's Electoral Council purchased from the e-voting machine vendor all operating software, codes, seeds, etc., and declared that due to "commercial reasons" -that have to do with industrial secrets, no one is allowed to audit, scrutinise or check in any manner whether the results reported are accurate or whether or not the process met the minimum requirements in terms of fairness.

So what purpose serves Petkoff's candidature, if not to lend a veneer of legitimacy to an otherwise already decided, and rigged, election? 10 million votes for Chavez, remember? It is also quite telling that high officials from chavismo have expressed joy at Petkoff's participation. What price will Venezuela pay for this adventure of a few selfish and irresponsible politicians, another 6 years of Chavez?

Many times I have said that a candidate whose levels of support are, supposedly, in a league of its own has nothing to fear. Chavez 'won' the recall referendum by a 20% margin, yet his electoral minions never allowed the opposition to scrutinise the vote properly, the utterly negligent international observers present at the time -Carter Centre and OAS- never had the chance to perform the functions expected of them. And I keep reaching the same conclusion, why the steadfast opposition to open up to transparency?

Teodoro Petkoff ladies and gentlemen, accessory in the demise of Venezuela's democracy.

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