Archive for September 27th, 2004

CNE Director Zamora resigns

September 27, 2004

CNE Director Ezequiel Zamora resigned today from the Electoral Board, fed up with being just a figurehead to allow the pro-Chávez majority to do whatever they wanted anyway. My only question is how come it was not done earlier. He mentioned many reasons, the fact that there was no audit on the day of the recall vote, that there was no willingness to do a full audit after the recall, the fact that the CNE can’t celebrate that people spent 13 hours in line. He said the CNE should plan for all Venezuelans to vote and not claim the process was so cumbersome because so many people voted and abstention was still 32%. He stated that what finally prompted him  to resign was the fact that the Electoral Board last Friday, by the customary three-pro-Chavez to two-pro opposition votes, decided to migrate one million voters to new voting centers.


A year ago, when the Supreme Court named the Electoral Board after the National Assembly had failed to do so, Zamora was named as one of the principal members of the Electoral Board. Each Board member has its alternates. Zamora’s alternate is Miriam Kornblith. Kornblith worked for many years in the CNE and was part of its Board. However, Director Jorge Rodriguez has in the past not allowed her to replace Zamora when needed, arguing that she is “partisan to the opposition” because she worked to help the opposition gather the signatures. I guess he forgot how hard he worked to stop the signatures under the guise of his “impartiality”. Enough said that he voted with the pro-Chavez majority every single time the vote was split, so who is accusing who of partisanship?


 


But the law can be stretched as far as the Chavistas want in this revolution and we already have an opinion from the glorious and very partisan legal counsel to the Electoral Board, who already has said that the Supreme Court should name Zamora’s replacement and Kornblith should not fill Zamora’s position. Makes you wonder why there are even alternates to the Directors if their absence will be filled by someone new? But I guess it would be very convenient at this point to have a CNE with four pro-Chavez members, at least the headlines could say the CNE decided an issue “almost” by a unanimous vote and they will be able to do anything they want anyway.


 


Meanwhile, the other CNE Director who was not pro-Chavez said she would not resign, as she would not leave the “space that had been gained”. Others claim that AD wants her there as a way of guaranteeing that party will be able to obtain a majority of the City Halls of the country. She criticized CNE Director Rodriguez for his nationwide address last Friday, saying that if the majority of the members of the Board never even heard the accusations by the opposition that there was fraud, how could he go and, in the name of the CNE, give an opinion that never existed.


 


At this point, the CNE still refuses to count all of the ballots, past and present. They argued in the recall that the Electoral law did not apply because it was a referendum, not an election. Now they are arguing that it worked “so well(??)” they should follow the same process. Venezuelan electoral law says all votes have to be manually counted. But it is so much easier to cheat using the machines, that why bother?

CNE Director Zamora resigns

September 27, 2004

CNE Director Ezequiel Zamora resigned today from the Electoral Board, fed up with being just a figurehead to allow the pro-Chávez majority to do whatever they wanted anyway. My only question is how come it was not done earlier. He mentioned many reasons, the fact that there was no audit on the day of the recall vote, that there was no willingness to do a full audit after the recall, the fact that the CNE can’t celebrate that people spent 13 hours in line. He said the CNE should plan for all Venezuelans to vote and not claim the process was so cumbersome because so many people voted and abstention was still 32%. He stated that what finally prompted him  to resign was the fact that the Electoral Board last Friday, by the customary three-pro-Chavez to two-pro opposition votes, decided to migrate one million voters to new voting centers.


A year ago, when the Supreme Court named the Electoral Board after the National Assembly had failed to do so, Zamora was named as one of the principal members of the Electoral Board. Each Board member has its alternates. Zamora’s alternate is Miriam Kornblith. Kornblith worked for many years in the CNE and was part of its Board. However, Director Jorge Rodriguez has in the past not allowed her to replace Zamora when needed, arguing that she is “partisan to the opposition” because she worked to help the opposition gather the signatures. I guess he forgot how hard he worked to stop the signatures under the guise of his “impartiality”. Enough said that he voted with the pro-Chavez majority every single time the vote was split, so who is accusing who of partisanship?


 


But the law can be stretched as far as the Chavistas want in this revolution and we already have an opinion from the glorious and very partisan legal counsel to the Electoral Board, who already has said that the Supreme Court should name Zamora’s replacement and Kornblith should not fill Zamora’s position. Makes you wonder why there are even alternates to the Directors if their absence will be filled by someone new? But I guess it would be very convenient at this point to have a CNE with four pro-Chavez members, at least the headlines could say the CNE decided an issue “almost” by a unanimous vote and they will be able to do anything they want anyway.


 


Meanwhile, the other CNE Director who was not pro-Chavez said she would not resign, as she would not leave the “space that had been gained”. Others claim that AD wants her there as a way of guaranteeing that party will be able to obtain a majority of the City Halls of the country. She criticized CNE Director Rodriguez for his nationwide address last Friday, saying that if the majority of the members of the Board never even heard the accusations by the opposition that there was fraud, how could he go and, in the name of the CNE, give an opinion that never existed.


 


At this point, the CNE still refuses to count all of the ballots, past and present. They argued in the recall that the Electoral law did not apply because it was a referendum, not an election. Now they are arguing that it worked “so well(??)” they should follow the same process. Venezuelan electoral law says all votes have to be manually counted. But it is so much easier to cheat using the machines, that why bother?

Pure Democracy, the Constitution and primaries

September 27, 2004

Speaking of “pure” democracy and such mundane concepts, one has to wonder whether most Venezuelans even think about such a concept or whether they even care. In the last two Presidential elections, all candidates were elected by the same smoke-filled rooms or individual decisions of the past. Despite the fact that Chavez’ MVR wrote a new Constitution saying (Art. 67) that candidates had to be “selected by internal elections with the participation of its members”, the truth is that not a single candidate has been elected for the upcoming Gubernatorial and Mayoral elections…until yesterday


Candidates from the opposition held yesterday a primary election to select a “unity” candidate for the gubernatorial race in Tachira state. I still don’t understand why there will be another round with the winner (The AD candidate, Rincon) running against popular figure and ex-Governor “Cura” Calderon. But the disappointing thing to me is how very few people went to vote. People want participation, ask for more democracy, but when it comes down to it, they don’t even show up!


 


In fact, I think the Coordinadora Democrática should have had the same procedure everywhere, whether candidates wanted it or not. This contrasts with Chavez’ MVR, where only candidates that have the approval of almighty Hugo will receive financial or political support from Chavez and his MVR. In Zulia, Chavez will back Gutierrez, but nobody wants him, another corrupt General (sue me!) with no popular support but he has Chavez’ wholehearted endorsement.


 


What still amazes me, as a naďve and innocent “comeflor” observer, is how politicians from both sides can get away with this. What’s the point of a Constitution if you don’t follow it? Where is the Supreme Court in all this? Chavez, what happened to your much ballyhooed participatory democracy? Dead at birth or dead on arrival? Moreover, in a country with 24 Governors and over 300 Mayors, so far only ONE of them will be selected following what the Constitution very explicitly says.  Democracy? Humbug!


 


To me, this was a big mistake by the opposition, if they had committed themselves to the grassroots democracy of primaries, they could have gotten people excited about the upcoming regional elections. As it is, people have no faith in the electoral process and abstention will likely hand out control to Chavez’ MVR of the whole nation. But of course, even if people show up, Chavez and his MVR will win anyway, using sophisticated “voting enhancing techniques” where needed. They have the means, the techniques and the will.

Jimmy Carter: The not-so-pure election observer

September 27, 2004

You have to wonder about Jimmy Carter’s integrity and judgement. In today’s opinion piece in The Washington Post, he complains about the conditions for the upcoming Florida election, using arguments that may have been taken right our of the Coordinadora Democrática press conferences during the last six months. If he wrote the piece himself, his capacity for cynicism is simply incredible. Where was he during the Venezuelan recall vote? Sleeping? Eating? (Speaking of Carter eating, one of my favorite Restaurants in Caracas, Urrutia in Solano Ave., had proudly displayed two pictures of the former President eating there, they have duly been removed).


But let’s looks at the ex-President’s laments about the Florida election:


 


The disturbing fact is that a repetition of the problems of 2000 now seems likely, even as many other nations are conducting elections that are internationally certified to be transparent, honest and fair.”


 


I certainly hope transparent, honest and fair does not refer to the Venezuelan process. The failed audit on Aug. 15th was not transparent, neither was the electoral registry, nor the refusal to audit 50 machines selected by the opposition on the second audit on Aug. 18th.  Or to think it is fair or honest that all important decisions were made by a three to two vote, with the three pro-Chavez Directors always voting together.


 


 


“A nonpartisan electoral commission or a trusted and nonpartisan official who will be responsible for organizing and conducting the electoral process before, during and after the actual voting takes place.”


 


This would never apply to our esteemed CNE, which was composed of three partisan pro-Chavez members and two partisan pro-opposition members. One of the pro-Chavez members was so partisan that he said in an interview to a Brazilian paper that the revolution had to be defended.


 


 


”Uniformity in voting procedures, so that all citizens, regardless of their social or financial status, have equal assurance that their votes are cast in the same way and will be tabulated with equal accuracy. Modern technology is already in use that makes electronic voting possible, with accurate and almost immediate tabulation and with paper ballot printouts so all voters can have confidence in the integrity of the process.”


 


Accurate and almost immediate tabulation? So that all voters can have confidence? Definitely not referring o the Venezuelan process he so superficially observed. Confidence has been shattered, and the integrity of the process is being questioned with very serious technical arguments.


 


“It is unconscionable to perpetuate fraudulent or biased electoral practices in any nation.”


 


It is also unconscionable to superficially certify processes that perpetuate biased and fraudulent practices…


 


Finally, I have switched two arguments made in the article:


 


“It is especially objectionable among us Americans, who have prided ourselves on setting a global example for pure democracy.


 


The top election official has also played a leading role in qualifying Ralph Nader as a candidate, knowing that two-thirds of his votes in the previous election came at the expense of Al Gore. She ordered Nader’s name be included on absentee ballots even before the state Supreme Court ruled on the controversial issue.”


 


Whatever happened to the “pure democracy” he boasts of in the first paragraph? Why should Nader’s candidacy be part of a controversial issue? Yes, he took votes away from Gore in 2000, but he also has a right to be a candidate which is being blocked by the party Carter supports in 17 states, using legalese and political maneuvering to block Nader’s and his supporters rights to have him be a candidate. I disagree with Nader’s candidacy personally, but the attempts to block him represent dirty rather than pure democracy as described in the first sentence.


 


Well Mr. Carter, with this opinion piece, I can only conclude you are not only superficial, but want to cynically apply different rules to the Florida election than you even tried to enforce in Venezuela. Certainly a double standard, but what else is new?

Jimmy Carter: The not-so-pure election observer

September 27, 2004

You have to wonder about Jimmy Carter’s integrity and judgement. In today’s opinion piece in The Washington Post, he complains about the conditions for the upcoming Florida election, using arguments that may have been taken right our of the Coordinadora Democrática press conferences during the last six months. If he wrote the piece himself, his capacity for cynicism is simply incredible. Where was he during the Venezuelan recall vote? Sleeping? Eating? (Speaking of Carter eating, one of my favorite Restaurants in Caracas, Urrutia in Solano Ave., had proudly displayed two pictures of the former President eating there, they have duly been removed).


But let’s looks at the ex-President’s laments about the Florida election:


 


The disturbing fact is that a repetition of the problems of 2000 now seems likely, even as many other nations are conducting elections that are internationally certified to be transparent, honest and fair.”


 


I certainly hope transparent, honest and fair does not refer to the Venezuelan process. The failed audit on Aug. 15th was not transparent, neither was the electoral registry, nor the refusal to audit 50 machines selected by the opposition on the second audit on Aug. 18th.  Or to think it is fair or honest that all important decisions were made by a three to two vote, with the three pro-Chavez Directors always voting together.


 


 


“A nonpartisan electoral commission or a trusted and nonpartisan official who will be responsible for organizing and conducting the electoral process before, during and after the actual voting takes place.”


 


This would never apply to our esteemed CNE, which was composed of three partisan pro-Chavez members and two partisan pro-opposition members. One of the pro-Chavez members was so partisan that he said in an interview to a Brazilian paper that the revolution had to be defended.


 


 


”Uniformity in voting procedures, so that all citizens, regardless of their social or financial status, have equal assurance that their votes are cast in the same way and will be tabulated with equal accuracy. Modern technology is already in use that makes electronic voting possible, with accurate and almost immediate tabulation and with paper ballot printouts so all voters can have confidence in the integrity of the process.”


 


Accurate and almost immediate tabulation? So that all voters can have confidence? Definitely not referring o the Venezuelan process he so superficially observed. Confidence has been shattered, and the integrity of the process is being questioned with very serious technical arguments.


 


“It is unconscionable to perpetuate fraudulent or biased electoral practices in any nation.”


 


It is also unconscionable to superficially certify processes that perpetuate biased and fraudulent practices…


 


Finally, I have switched two arguments made in the article:


 


“It is especially objectionable among us Americans, who have prided ourselves on setting a global example for pure democracy.


 


The top election official has also played a leading role in qualifying Ralph Nader as a candidate, knowing that two-thirds of his votes in the previous election came at the expense of Al Gore. She ordered Nader’s name be included on absentee ballots even before the state Supreme Court ruled on the controversial issue.”


 


Whatever happened to the “pure democracy” he boasts of in the first paragraph? Why should Nader’s candidacy be part of a controversial issue? Yes, he took votes away from Gore in 2000, but he also has a right to be a candidate which is being blocked by the party Carter supports in 17 states, using legalese and political maneuvering to block Nader’s and his supporters rights to have him be a candidate. I disagree with Nader’s candidacy personally, but the attempts to block him represent dirty rather than pure democracy as described in the first sentence.


 


Well Mr. Carter, with this opinion piece, I can only conclude you are not only superficial, but want to cynically apply different rules to the Florida election than you even tried to enforce in Venezuela. Certainly a double standard, but what else is new?

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