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Venezuela's opposition corners Chavez's electoral minions

By Aleksander Boyd

London 09.06.06 | At last, a group of Venezuelan opposition politicos is playing the cards right and it's cornering Hugo Chavez's electoral minions. So far so good. As Miguel and I have reported any semblance of meaningfulness vis-a-vis the audit to the electoral roll proposed by Venezuela's most respected universities -UCV, USB and UCAB- vanished after the details of the CNE-sanctioned audit were announced in press conference by new 'minister of elections' Tibisay Lucena.

Teodoro Petkoff was attacked by supporters of chavismo yesterday in truly exemplary fashion of official consent towards dissent. Julio Borges asked UCV, USB and UCAB to carry on with the audit using the data contained in the roll up until 2005. But the masterstroke came from Manuel Rosales who said that his party will audit the roll, independently of CNE's decisions. Now that is the clever thing to do. In complete agreement with Miguel's argument, it is not for the CNE to be imposing any conditions or methodology for the audit, their role is confined, according to current legislation, merely to release electoral data to whomever wishes to check upon the validity and correctness of the roll.

And Petkoff, at last, did not mince words when he stated "... what's your fear Hugo? You still have the chance to avoid a plebiscite and participate in clean elections. You think you are all too powerful but you dread transparent conditions." He added that calls to all opposition actors will be made in order to explain to Venezuelans the meaning of the CNE's decision and concluded his remarks by saying that Venezuelans must stand united and confront "this strike against democracy" and if necessary "to take the streets to demand our right to free elections."

To be frank that's my kind of rhetoric; that's the way the criminal thug misgoverning Venezuela ought to be addressed. What I would have added to Petkoff's statements is this: Venezuelans, all 25 million of them, must get into their heads, once and for all, that civil servants and the public administration are there, above all else, to serve the citizenry whilst complying with current legislation. This business of universities, NGOs and political parties "requesting" electoral data to the CNE is fundamentally wrong for the law is absolutely clear in that respect. To explain further, how can any rightful thinking person accept that a public institution is to set the conditions by which audits to their performance are to be implemented? Paraphrasing Tariq Ali "this is demented stuff."

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