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Another week, another slap on Chavez and HIS CNE: Peru’s Garcia comes back from the dead

By Daniel Duquenal

05.06.06 | After a day on the road and other such activities I came late to look at the Peru election results. And I decide to keep the same format as last week when I was discussing the Colombian result: start by comparing the electoral systems.

The CNE gets a new slap on the face.

Already perturbed as the serious universities of Venezuela are about to pull out yet another fig leaf of the CNE skirt, the Peru vote shows again how inefficient and untrustworthy the Venezuelan CNE is.

I arrived in Caracas at 4:50. At 5 I had Globovison on and I saw as all the polling stations of Peru were closing at the scheduled time. This is something that has not happened in Venezuela for the last 4 elections. And totally unaccountable as the abstention is 75% and thus there ARE NO LINES ANYWHERE to justify keeping polling stations open for a couple of hours more. Later tonight I saw that abstention in peru was only 11% ! And they all voted on time!!!! Please, CNE, explain.

At 5:01 (4:01 Lima time) exit polls were published with a 54% projection for Alan Garcia. In Venezuela NO ONE can say anything until the CNE has emitted its first official bulletin. This usually last from 2 to 4 hours after ballots FINALLY close. This was dramatic on August 2004. The CNE waited for the wee hours when the opposition stunned could not find its bearings to counteract the announcements. There is NO REASON to block the news the way the CNE does in Venezuela, a blockage that reeks of manipulation. All major democracies in the world allow publication fo results as soon as polling stations close and none is the worse for it (The US case is different but not to be discussed tonight here). So? Please, CNE, explain.

Now, as I am typing at 11 PM I hear that Peruvian TV is reporting 100% of ballots in several Peruvian provinces, including remote Ayacucho of Sendero fame (where, by the way, Humala kicked ass with around 80%). The ONPE web page gives at 5 hours from ballot closing a total of 78.8% stations reporting (and that web page works better than the CNE page, by the way…). Here in Venezuela we are still waiting for details of last December elections where LESS people voted than in Lima alone. What gives? Plese, CNE, explain.

No case here: since last December we have seen 3 major elections (primitively organized if we were to believe some CNE self sufficient) that run on time, that gave results on manually counted ballots in a few hours, with the quick recognition of the losing side (Humala has conceded a few minutes ago). Please, CNE, explain why Chile, Colombia and Peru are faster and much more trusted than you?

The “victory” of Alan Garcia.

The Peru election of yesterday looked a lot like the French election of 4 years ago when socialists had to pinch their nose and go to vote for Chirac to bar Extreme Right candidate Le Pen from winning. Except that this time it was the modern democratic right of Peru that had to pinch its nose to make sure that the “nationalist” and “socialist” (shiver!) Humala did not reach office. The good news is that they succeeded and that Garcia got 55% of the vote, the strict minimum he needed to rein in for a while Humala who with such a result cannot launch yet its hordes to the streets the way Morales did a few weeks after Sanchez de Lozada was sworn in. He probably will someday but with 55% Alan Garcia has too much legitimacy to riot against him for the time being.

The bad news is that the victor is Alan Garcia, a proven failure. He has been running around for 15 years and we can hope that he used that time, including a long exile under Fujimori, to learn a little bit about modern techniques of government. I am afraid to show optimism here since the last time I took a chance was with Morales who I assumed would show some backbone and not become a pawn in Chavez hand. The way that I have been proven wrong is almost stupefying as none would have predicted such a willful surrender of Morales to Chavez continental design, a surrender only matched in ridicule to the one that Chavez did voluntarily to Castro…

To give the Venezuelan reader a certain perspective, it would have been as if in Venezuela we would have had to chose between Chavez and Carlos Andres Perez in 1998. The followers of Lourdes Flores have to be commended to hold their nose and focus on Garcia proven democratic values as Humala is a coup monger surrounded by a racist, homophobic, Stalinist crowd. Let’s hope for the best, but Garcia will not have it easy: in addition of his checkered past he barely controls a third of the new parliament. At least he inherits a country in good working order, courtesy of Toledo excellent managerial skills that were infinitely better than his political skills.

Some details of the election

Peru allows blank voting but still, 91.9% were valid votes. Thus the importance that Peruvians put on that crucial election. This is confirmed by a low abstention rate that would make white with envy most democracies in the world: 11.04%. Even overseas Peruvians voted “en masse” as 63% found their way to the nearest consulate! Overseas by the way voted 65% for Garcia. Curiously in Venezuela we got only a little better than Peru. Thus the glorious Bolivarian revolution has not been able to convince a majority of Peruvians in Venezuela.

In Lima 62.3% voted for Garcia, making it more difficult for Humala to stir trouble. Though he can do that from Cuzco or Arequipa where he got respectively 69% and 64%. But in La Libertad, where modern and booming Trujillo rests, Garcia got 75%! It looks like a very divided country, where the ancient ways tried to get back at modernity with Humala while forward looking Peru moved away, slums and all, from a divisive proposal. Because when there are more than 50% slums in the Lima area and a lot of them did go Garcia. A lesson that Humala should ponder some. As for Garcia, his first priority should be the “forgotten” Peru of the high mountains and terribly arid South (Though he did manage to carry Moquegua with 50.2% and Ica, admittedly close to Lima, with 59%). After all Humala carried more than half of the provinces, an important factor for future elections…

A blog with moment by moment following of election day is worth a visit (this line is a note added later, too bad I did not read it before I wrote this post...).

As for Chavez.

Well, now we are waiting to see if he is going to break relations with Peru as he promised in case Garcia won. That 55% is good enough for Garcia as Chavez can hardly claim fraud (though some his minions sent to observe were trying to indicate it, one of them I heard on VTV saying that the margin was “barely” 200 000 votes and all could still change; well, the margin is now above 1 million and it ain’t changing much with the 20% missing). So, Hugo, what are you waiting for? Should I point out your foot and where in your mouth you should insert it?

But the recent speeches of Garcia against Chavez have created a sworn enemy. And one uselessly gained. Reuters is not afraid to title "Garcia defeats Chavez". Garcia will have now perfect excuse to sign the FTA with the US. To ally himself with now respectable Uribe. To brow beat its neighbor Bolivia. To force Chile to negotiate a Bolivia access to the sea if Bolivia accepts to behave. Etc, etc… Bad news for Chavez all around as Garcia is not to be intimidated. Garcia formed his political career under real dictatorships, he went into exile, he faced huge protest marches, etc… Not a silly coup and a media campaign in 1998 as Chavez did. Garcia is a tough bone for Chavez, a bone that Chavez has only himself to blame if it gets stuck in his throat.

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