Smoke was the only bad thing coming out of the CNE today, as the new Board was sending positive signals. Perhaps the best one was the strong statement y the CNE President on Chavez’ comments on the CNE from Havana. He said (page A-2 of El Nacional by subscription only): “The electoral power is independent and will not be below any other power or influenced by opinions even if they come from the President of the Republic. The decision we will make in the next few hours particularly on referenda, including the recall referenda for the President will be made in autonomous fashion.” Speaking directly to the President Carrasquero added: “Nobody has the power to morally condemn the CNE” in clear reference to Chavez saying in Havana that if the CNE approved the signatures in the current petition, it would be morally disqualified to organize any election.
Meanwhile, the CNE approved today, in unanimous fashion, the new internal regulations. This was a necessary step for the Electoral Board to make any decisions and the fact that it was unanimous was an excellent sign.
Meanwhile, President Hugo Chavez continued demonstrating that he does not understand democratic concepts, when he said in his Sunday address that he had called the President of the CNE to complain about the visit by the US Ambassador to Venezuela to that institution. Clearly, under the separation of powers, Chavez had no right to call the President of the CNE. Chavez called the visit a violation of Venezuela’s sovereignty and asked that the US Government cease its” interventionistic obsession”. Today Robert Noriega, the Subsecretary for the Western hemisphere defended the visit by the US Ambassador saying that” The US refuses to interfere with the internal affairs of Venezuela, but we are not disinterested spectators. Noriega added that Venezuela’s democracy is threatened.