Archive for August 22nd, 2004

Some definitions and clarifications on the machine coincidences in the recall vote

August 22, 2004

Friday night I wrote that somebody had to be lying because the numbers did not match, that is the Carter center using CNE data, was reaching a different conclusion about “coincidences” than the CD. Yesterday, I managed to get a hold of a spreadsheet with the original data. I looked at some states and saw many of these “coincidences” but needed a little break, so I did not look much at it but an analyst friend, who reads the blog regularly did and sent me his results based on 19042 machines out of the total of 23874 machines or notebooks (Some notebooks had no machines associated with them and this data is from the first day): 


- If you look at how many numbers repeat per table (“mesa”) then you get:


 


402   coincidences for the Si vote and


311   for the No vote


 


This is what the Carter Center and the OAS were talking about


 


-If you look at the polling center level (which may contain more than one mesa) then you get:


 


805   centers have Si coincidences


647   centers have No coincidences


 


If you add the number of machines in the 805 centers that are involved in the coincidences you get 1879 machines which is what the CD has been talking about.


 


So, there was no lying on this subject, it was only a matter of nomenclature and both sides being extremely sloppy as they were taking about much different things. Now we need some modeling! Still waiting for volunteers!

Some definitions and clarifications on the machine coincidences in the recall vote

August 22, 2004

Friday night I wrote that somebody had to be lying because the numbers did not match, that is the Carter center using CNE data, was reaching a different conclusion about “coincidences” than the CD. Yesterday, I managed to get a hold of a spreadsheet with the original data. I looked at some states and saw many of these “coincidences” but needed a little break, so I did not look much at it but an analyst friend, who reads the blog regularly did and sent me his results based on 19042 machines out of the total of 23874 machines or notebooks (Some notebooks had no machines associated with them and this data is from the first day): 


- If you look at how many numbers repeat per table (“mesa”) then you get:


 


402   coincidences for the Si vote and


311   for the No vote


 


This is what the Carter Center and the OAS were talking about


 


-If you look at the polling center level (which may contain more than one mesa) then you get:


 


805   centers have Si coincidences


647   centers have No coincidences


 


If you add the number of machines in the 805 centers that are involved in the coincidences you get 1879 machines which is what the CD has been talking about.


 


So, there was no lying on this subject, it was only a matter of nomenclature and both sides being extremely sloppy as they were taking about much different things. Now we need some modeling! Still waiting for volunteers!

What do I think: Was there fraud or not?

August 22, 2004

A lot of people have written to me asking me what I think, if there was fraud or not. The answer is I don’t know. On Monday I said unless there was evidence of fraud, the No had won, OAS and the Carter Carter had endorsed it and other than the exit poll evidence, there was no additional evidence to say there was a fraud.


Now, one has to be analytical about things. That there was fraud does not mean in my mind that Chavez lost. I have always defended Venezuelan pollsters; they have been reliable in all Presidential elections. None of them were saying that Chavez could win by such a large margin. Curiously, they were saying the SI had a chance to win by a large margin if abstention was high, and it was. But still, the margin did not get to 16% in any poll under the scenarios we have seen.


 


There are four possibilities in my mind:


 


-Chavez won by the range announced by the CNE, fraud was small, essentially irrelevant.


-There was machine malfunction


-Chavez won by a smaller margin, but the polling was too close for comfort and someone decided to do something about it.


-Chavez lost, there was massive fraud.


 


As far as I know, nobody thinks the machines may have malfunctioned. They had never been used under such stressful situations, I would do a test any way, and these same machines will be used in the future.


 


With respect to the fraud, whether massive or not. There remain in my mind a number of questions in the way things were handled that simply do not help. I have always argued that in Venezuela we have (this is not new!) a complete disregard for professionalism. People here believe in amateurs. Neither Carrasquero, nor Battaglini, nor Jorge Rodriguez have ever managed any system as complex as the CNE. In fact, Rodriguez’ managing experience was limited to his medical practice.


 


So maybe I am expecting too much from them. But this is one of the tragedies of Venezuela. Venezuelan Government banks are run by people with no banking experience, state companies by people with no industrial experience, the exchange control office by a former military who proves he has no knowledge of financial issues when he testifies in front of the National Assembly (but he ran a bank first!).


 


Thus, maybe I am being picky expecting too much from these guys. The referendum was supposed to bring peace no matter what the result; the steps should have been taken to guarantee it. Before the recall vote, I thought the worst case scenario would be a close vote, never did I imagine such a large spread could be questioned too. But there were procedures that were not followed and one has to wonder why:


 


-There was supposed to be a live audit of 192 machines. If this had been done, little could be said. Instead, the opposition witnesses were allowed only in 27 of these audits. Gaviria blamed it on military ignorance (an oxymoron), to me that is irresponsible. The military should have known, there is no excuse, The results of those 27 machines (see below) are 63% for the Si, 37% for the No. Gaviria called the sample too small. I agree! That is why a large one was supposed to be made!


 


-The CNE never answered the letter by the opposition asking for a meeting to set the rules of the audit. The decision was not even made in a meeting of the CNE Board. Why? The CD wanted to audit some centers where it thought the Si should have won as well as some where the numerical problems had surfaced. Why not allow this?


 


-When people began questioning the coincidences, the CNE (and the CD!) should have released the data. Instead, each side was using different terminology, which made things even more confusing. It was not until yesterday that I was able to get my hands on the data for the voting machines themselves, rather than the mesas and some 4800 mesas are still at zero votes which does not help.


 


-When I heard the first press conference by the President of Smartmatic I thought it was stupid not to allow questions. Well, now I understand, he can’t keep his stories straight. He has said in separate occasions: “There can be no fraud with these machines”, “If there was fraud, we did not do it” and “I can not guarantee there was no fraud”. But in any country with a semblance of a legal system, somebody should be asking him how come he said in Thursday’s Tal Cual that he knew by noon on Sunday that the “No” was winning. If the machines were not supposed to transmit until the voting center closed, how come he knew?


 


None of this makes me comfortable. But it does not prove anything either. Most of the questions above will never be answered. At this time, I would like somebody to model the voting process and demonstrate statistically that the coincidences in the voting machines are or not significant. I have the file at the machine level for anyone that wants to try it. (Or look at it).

A Chavista condemnation of ethics and the rule of law in the Chavez Government

August 22, 2004

Most people assume (or presume) that my disagreement or that of others to the Chavez Government is based on objections to the economic policies of the Government. To me what Chavez is doing on the economy is really not that different to what has been happening in Venezuela since 1958, if not longer. Populism has been the rule of the day in Venezuela for a long time. State capitalism was the norm, not the exception, to the democratic era that started in 1958. Of the last five Presidents, four have had exchange controls. All led to huge corruption, much like today, all led to huge devaluations when oil prices turned down, all led to artificialities in the economy that become harder to resolve as time goes on.


This is not the first Government “for and of” the poor. AD was the party of the people. Luis Herrera was the President of the poor. Jaime Lusinchi was like the average Venezuelan, Caldera II was a Government for the poor and Carlos Andres nationalized the oil and iron industries for the people.


 


On social programs, the Misiones are reminiscent of many things I have seen before. I have read about the “Gota de Leche” de Lopez Contreras, I saw the waste of Larrazabal’s Plan de Emergencia, the failure of Romulo’s agrarian reform, Caldera’s offer to build and give away 500,000 houses in five years, Luis Herrera increased salaries to all when there was 5% unemployment by 40% setting up the first devaluation. Lusinchi had the Modulos in the barrios, a Cuban-less form of barrio Adentro. CAP II had beca salario, beca alimentaria, vaso de leche and they were much like what has happened in this Government they did not have the sustainability required of such programs to really make a difference, neither have the programs that Chavez started in the first three or four years of his Government. In fact, his much ballyhooed Institute for Land is an empty and bureaucratic shell which has taken more away from the farmers than it has given them.


 


In fact, neither Chavez nor any of the opposition self-promoted leaders (much like Chavez) have any form of concrete economic proposal or system to make the Venezuelan economy grow sufficiently to reduce poverty significantly.


 


What I do object and has made me militantly anti-Chavez is his disregard for the law: There is simply no rule of law in Venezuela. There are no checks and balances. Impunity rules. Neither the poor nor the rich can count on independent institutions to defend their rights or their property. The Government determines how judges rule, what prosecutors bring to Court, what the National Assembly decides. Was it better before? Definitely Yes, people quickly forget that Carlos Andres Perez was impeached, something that was only possible because there was a political independent Attorney General that accused him, a Supreme Court that allowed the case to proceed and a Congress with two Chambers that impeached him.


 


None of that exists today. You could show a video of a Government official taking a bribe and the judicial system would protect him. In fact, last week’s murder in plaza Altamira seems to be taking the strange twist that the Attorney general and his office are saying that the murderers caught on videotape, were defending themselves in a legal defense argument reminiscent of the Puente El LLaguno case. In fact, pictures have now been found showing how the pro-Chavez caravan arrived in Plaza Altamira where a crowd of opposition people were protesting. In the following you actually see the murderers getting out of the cars even before they arrive in the plaza:


 



 


 


All of this comes to mind because there is an extraordinary interview in local paper La Razon with Carlos Escarra. Escarra is a rabid Chavista who says that now the referendum ahs been won, the Government has to initiate these initiatives:


 


-Attack impunity, which to him implies dismounting the judicial system, removing everyone from the Supreme Court, everyone in PDVSA, the Comptroller, the Attorney General and the People’s Ombudsman.


 


-A revolutionary purge so that the Government functions in an honest, efficient, effective manner and at the service of the people. The corrupt of the process have to leave and the corrupt of previous Governments have to go to jail.


 


-Create jobs and increase salaries.


 


-Unify the country.


 


Now, this reads like Chavez’ promises when he first won in 1998 anyway, so I wonder what Escarra thinks Chavez has been doing for five years. In fact, Chavez replaced everyone in the Supreme Court, has replaced judges to the point that 60% of the courts are in the hands of temporary judges and packed the Government with his supporters in such a way that if you are not with the revolution, you are not even given service.


 


The most remarkable part of the interview, after saying all decision makers at PDVSA have to be removed is what Escarra has to say about the Comptroller, the Attorney General and the People’s Ombudsman:


 


“The comptroller has become like Rafael Caldera, one does not know if he exists or not and if he exists is to attack silly things and not important matters, this man used to be combative, but even his soul has cooled down….Mundarain the People’s Ombudsman has devoted his time to international relations, traveling all over the world. I had cases where I would call his office and there was not even the minimal attention to these cases, that institution is a white elephant, an institution placed at the service of the international relations of one person. I a friend of the Attorney General but sincerely he has not been able to manage his office”


 


After reading this, I would love to be able to ask Mr. Escarra why none of this was done in the last five years, why he thinks it will be done now and finally, why does he still believe in Chavez? After all, he sounds like me in his wholesale condemnation of the rule of law and honesty in the Chavez Government.

A Chavista condemnation of ethics and the rules of law in the Chavez Government

August 22, 2004

Most people assume (or presume) that my disagreement or that of others to the Chavez Government is based on objections to the economic policies of the Government. To me what Chavez is doing on the economy is really not that different to what has been happening in Venezuela since 1958, if not longer. Populism has been the rule of the day in Venezuela for a long time. State capitalism was the norm, not the exception, to the democratic era that started in 1958. Of the last five Presidents, four have had exchange controls. All led to huge corruption, much like today, all led to huge devaluations when oil prices turned down, all led to artificialities in the economy that become harder to resolve as time goes on.

 

This is not the first Government “for and of” the poor. AD was the party of the people. Luis Herrera was the President of the poor. Jaime Lusinchi was like the average Venezuelan, Caldera II was a Government for the poor and Carlos Andres nationalized the oil and iron industries for the people.

 

 

 

On social programs, the Misiones are reminiscent of many things I have seen before. I have read about the �Gota de Leche� de Lopez Contreras, I saw the waste of Larrazabal�s Plan de Emergencia, the failure of Romulo�s agrarian reform, Caldera�s offer to build and give away 500,000 houses in five years, Luis Herrera increased salaries to all when there was 5% unemployment by 40% setting up the first devaluation. Lusinchi had the Modulos in the barrios, a Cuban-less form of barrio Adentro. CAP II had beca salario, beca alimentaria, vaso de leche and they were much like what has happened in this Government they did not have the sustainability required of such programs to really make a difference, neither have the programs that Chavez started in the first three or four years of his Government. In fact, his much ballyhooed Institute for Land is an empty and bureaucratic shell which has taken more away from the farmers than it has given them.

 

 

 

In fact, neither Chavez nor any of the opposition self-promoted leaders (much like Chavez) have any form of concrete economic proposal or system to make the Venezuelan economy grow sufficiently to reduce poverty significantly.

 

 

 

What I do object and has made me militantly anti-Chavez is his disregard for the law: There is simply no rules of law in Venezuela. There are no checks and balances. Impunity rules. Neither the poor nor the rich can count on independent institutions to defend their rights or their property. The Government determines how judges rule, what prosecutors bring to Court, what the National Assembly decides. Was it better before? Definitely Yes, people quickly forget that Carlos Andres Perez was impeached, something that was only possible because there was a political independent Attorney General that accused him, a Supreme Court that allowed the case to proceed and a Congress with two Chambers that impeached him.

 

 

 

None of that exists today. You could show a video of a Government official taking a bribe and the judicial system would protect him. In fact, last week�s murder in plaza Altamira seems to be taking the strange twist that the Attorney general and his office are saying that the murderers caught on videotape, were defending themselves in a legal defense argument reminiscent of the Puente El LLaguno case. In fact, pictures have now been found showing how the pro-Chavez caravan arrived in Plaza Altamira where a crowd of opposition people were protesting. In the following you actually see the murderers getting out of the cars even before they arrive in the plaza:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All of this comes to mind because there is an extraordinary interview in local paper La Razon with Carlos Escarra. Escarra is a rabid Chavista who says that now the referendum ahs been won, the Government has to initiate these initiatives:

 

 

 

-Attack impunity, which to him implies dismounting the judicial system, removing everyone from the Supreme Court, everyone in PDVSA, the Comptroller, the Attorney General and the People�s Ombudsman.

 

 

 

-A revolutionary purge so that the Government functions in an honest, efficient, effective manner and at the service of the people. The corrupt of the process have to leave and the corrupt of previous Governments have to go to jail.

 

 

 

-Create jobs and increase salaries.

 

 

 

-Unify the country.

 

 

 

Now, this reads like Chavezďż˝ promises when he first won in 1998 anyway, so I wonder what Escarra thinks Chavez has been doing for five years. In fact, Chavez replaced everyone in the Supreme Court, has replaced judges to the point that 60% of the courts are in the hands of temporary judges and packed the Government with his supporters in such a way that if you are not with the revolution, you are not even given service.

 

 

 

The most remarkable part of the interview, after saying all decision makers at PDVSA have to be removed is what Escarra has to say about the Comptroller, the Attorney General and the People�s Ombudsman:

 

 

 

�The comptroller has become like Rafael Caldera, one does not know if he exists or not and if he exists is to attack silly things and not important matters, this man used to be combative, but even his soul has cooled down�.Mundarain the People�s Ombudsman has devoted his time to international relations, traveling all over the world. I had cases where I would call his office and there was not even the minimal attention to these cases, that institution is a white elephant, an institution placed at the service of the international relations of one person. I a friend of the Attorney General but sincerely he has not been able to manage his office�

 

 

 

After reading this, I would love to be able to ask Mr. Escarra why none of this was done in the last five years, why he thinks it will be done now and finally, why does he still believe in Chavez? After all, he sounds like me in his wholesale condemnation of the rule of law and honesty in the Chavez Government.

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