There is no question in my mind now that the Chavez Government is getting ready to commit the biggest rip off in our democratic history. That these people have no scruples is being proven daily by the many decisions of the Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE), the way the three pro-Chavez Directors are acting and the attempt to disqualify two million signatures of the petition gathered by the opposition last November 28th. to December1st.
People are losing perspective when discussing what is going on. First of all, people seem to forget what the role of the petition for the referendum is supposed to be. For God’s sake, this is not a vote, this is only a petition! But the requirements established are tougher than for a real vote!
I would like to remind everyone that there were two ways for gathering the signatures: In the poll booths established for that effect and the so called “itinerant” gatherers who went around visiting hospitals, old people and those scared to be seen signing the petition in public places. Under the apparently insurmountable rules established by the CNE for this process, each polling station had to have Chavista witnesses. Each itinerant gatherer had to be accompanied by a Chavista witness. Each day, at the end of the day, the polling station or itinerant member had to put a cover to all forms and the signatures gathered in them and sign off the totals for the day. The forms were made in special paper. They had serial numbers.
So, if the CNE really believed that there was this mega fraud that Chavez and his cohorts are accusing the opposition for, they should look no further than the Chavista witnesses who signed the cover forms each day. The only way for the opposition to have manufactured this million plus signatures would have been to forge the signatures of these witnesses who, by the way, had received special training by the CNE.
But these people don’t want to play fair. They have been creating obstacles, writing new regulations, changing the rules and dealing behind the scenes from day one. Can anyone really believe that Jorge Rodriguez is impartial when he publicly even questioned the agreement signed by the Government and the opposition under the auspices of the OAS? First, nobody asked him. Second, the agreements are there and it seems at best inappropriate fro the Director of the CNE to even say anything about it.
And then as if this was not enough, all of a sudden the Government begins asking for even more international observers. I agree that the more the merrier when it comes for international observation of electoral processes. But the time to invite them was at the beginning, not in the tenth inning of a game with variable rules and a ball which randomly changes size each inning.
The problem is that most people even forget that both Gaviria and Carter were originally invited by the Chavez administration. In fact, those that talked with the OAS Secretary General during his first visit were amazed at his naiveté with respect to the Chavez administration and the events of April 2002 But he learned fast when he decided to stay to “solve” the Venezuelan conflict. Except he learned where the bad faith was coming from and he realized on which side true democracy laid.
The same is true of the Carter Center, which never truly explained whether the Chavez administration had or not given a sizable donation to its projects. In the then words of the same Jennifer McCoy that today goes to the CNE and is amazed by the attempt to eliminate more than a million signatures by the opposition: “The Carter Center has not received any donation related to its activities in Venezuela”. Get it? The money could have gone to unrelated activities, but I stray from my point.
But all of a sudden, Gaviria, Carter, McCoy, Diez are all enemies. They question everything the CNE does or attempts to do. They privately threaten to leave if the cheating continues. So, it is time to get rid of them. The story of Chavez’ life, invite, use, get rid of them. Ask MAS, Lameda, Miquilena, Esqueda, Chaderton(?), Rosendo and so many others!. Now he is going international. Watch out foreign debt bondholders you are on his list, but first he needs to get rid of Nobrega!
And then we come to the good old USA, which mostly ignored Chavez for his first few years in office until the TACO event took place. (Temporary Absence of Constitutional Order)*. Ever since TACO, everyone wants to get the USA involved. But yesterday Chavez said not only did it get involved, but it was responsible for the blood. Tell that to the millions of Venezuelans that marched that day. Unless the Irishly-disappeared-Puente El Llaguno shooters were CIA, working for Bernal, it is hard for the US to have been that involved.
But it has worked for Fidel, why not for Hugo, attack those damn Yankees for signing A-Rod! (sorry, wrong game), killing Venezuelans or whatever. At least the A-Rod part it’s true. Of course, this is simply Cuban advice, attack the US, you will gain popularity. Except that Fidel took over in Cuba when TV was as much of a dream as ubiquitous broadband is today, Disney was Fantasia and Dalmatians and MacDonald’s was a Scottish name or a guy who had a farm in some song. It may not work here, where most people somehow like the US, to the consternation of the French, despite Bush, Clinton and Don King.
So, the strategy seems to be delay, fight, delay, fight and long for the day when if Chavez is recalled, Jose Vicente will become President, he will appoint Chavez as VP, will resign and we will get Chavez back in twenty four hours. Sound far fetched? So did questioning 70% of the signatures two weeks ago.
But seriously, the CNE appears to want not to invalidate the signatures in the forms with the same handwriting (planas), but instead have anyone that signed but does not appear in the lists show up during a five day period and scream: I did sign the first time! Of course, we need two weeks to plan it out (15 days), first we will do it for the Chavista recall of opposition Deputies (five days), we will rest for five days (five days) and then we will do it for the President’s recall. (Five days).
Now, nobody says anything about how the CNE will evaluate those that said they signed, what somebody else wrote out with their signature and fingerprint. Do we have to make up new rules? What if there is a plana of a plana? Do we use witnesses? Who verifies? Who counts? Do we do it base two or ten? Do we publish the list of those who said they had signed, to say they had signed, what they had not filled, but signed? Or should we just be democratic and believe them? We may be talking 2007 or 2021…
And then, there is a very sensible proposal by the OAS. Let’s hire some fingerprint verifiers abroad. Have them do a sample. Discard within statistical errors that the fingerprints were forged. Move forward. Too sensible? Of course! These OAS and Carter technocrats make Chavez feel much like PDVSA technocrats did in the good old days. Statistics! Errors! Profits! Production! Money! Votes! Prosperity! Democracy! Justice! Humbug!
The people don’t want any of that. They simply want Hugo Chavez! Why vote on it? Isn’t it obvious? It’s a landslide, so why bother?
*Told you I would use it some day!