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Venezuela: electoral authority stands in the way of free elections

By Aleksander Boyd

London 08.06.06 | Last Thursday we had a number of meetings with different European officials in Brussels. Stress upon dialogue mechanisms and consensus was made in each of them by the Europeans, to which we, in varying degrees, concurred. And I say varying degrees for, as all things with Venezuelan opposition, it is almost impossible to be 100% in agreement amongst ourselves about any given topic. I also did a presentation in front of press covering European news about the Maisanta database, and how it has been used for political prosecution purposes. The faces of the journalists present that day was one of complete astonishment. But coming back to the significance of seeking to establish dialogue mechanisms with electoral authorities in order to reach some form of consensus, one must analyse the behaviour of these civil servants.

The bone of strongest contention nowadays is Venezuela's electoral roll. According to current legislation (art. 93 of the Organic Law of Suffrage and Political Participation) the National Electoral Council (CNE) is obliged to release to political parties and interested groups that so require copies of each list of voters published by the Office of Electoral Register. Furthermore the director of said office shall certify a) that such lists are exact copies of the roll and b) whether the released copies represent partial or total content of the electoral roll. Assuming that the group of universities willing to audit Venezuela's electoral roll have based their genuine request on that article, why the new directorate of the CNE has to 'negotiate' with them the scientific method that shall be utilised to audit the roll? What business is of them to be imposing auditing conditions when the letter of the law says, explicitly, that they must release that information to interested groups and political parties without further ado?

It is a known fact that the electoral roll has been artificially inflated in the millions. Irresponsible registry mechanisms, unchecked identification processes, flawed methodology, lax ID-documents requirements are all part of the massive increase in the number of voters. The Gonzalez family that has more than 2.000 members all born and registered in the same date or the more than 39.000 voters over 100 hundred years of age -a statistical impossibility given the country's population, or the entries of unidentified people that have no first or last name, in sum these corollary of fabricated voters that exist only in the virtual electronic world created with the connivance of Smartmatic to re-elect the caudillo with 10 million votes, makes any right thinking person doubt the purported good intentions of CNE bosses, that, need be reminded, are unwilling to open up to meaningful scrutiny. But how can these civil servants violate current legislation and forcefully impose auditing conditions? Who gave them the power to do so? And more importantly, since when civil servants can become the biggest obstacle blocking the way of free elections in an allegedly 'democratic system'?

These issues were explained in detail to European officials, alas their hands are tied and their room to maneuver is confined to the diplomatic realm where accomplishments in pro of democracy are few and far between. It does not mean however that Europeans are not absolutely clear about the nature of the Chavez regime. As one official put it "I lived the first 25 years of my life under a regime where there was no freedom of expression nor in fact elections of any sort, trust me I fully understand your plights."

The coming elections in Venezuela will be another exercise in futility and a lost opportunity, not owing to opposition's anti-democratic behaviour but, quite obviously, due to the illegal and unconstitutional stance of some civil servants of the Chavez regime.

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