Archive for September, 2004

Even baseball affected by the bad Government

September 29, 2004

As most Venezuelans, I am a baseball fan, belonging to that peculiar almost religion which is following the Red Sox, but I can’t be very happy at these ESPN’s articles about crime in Venezuela,  I read the sports pages to try to get away a little bit from reality, so it is somewhat depressing to read these three articles: 


-Not safe at home


-A matter of trust


-Dreading the winter ahead


 


What the articles say is, unfortunately, mostly true, which does not make it any less depressing. If big league players don’t come down for winter leagues because of the articles, the quality of play unfortunately will go down. It is clear who is to blame, but I will not bore saying it again. 

Sumate draft report on recall process

September 28, 2004

Sumate has written a draft of its report on the very long process that led to the recall vote and the recall itself which you can find here in English. The document has a wealth of information and should be read by those interested in the process. It is well structured and documented. I found particularly interesting the parts about the audits as well as the legal aspects that sometimes are overlooked as to how regulations and laws were violated regularly in the whole process. Some highlights:


-Page 6 and 37: The CNE server was shutdown without explanation at 8 PM Sunday night while the vote was going on, international observers and CNE Directors were barred from entering the totalization room.


 


Page 7: While at the request of Venezuela’s President each signature in the petition was checked three times, the same Electoral Board that complied with that refused to count manually even a significant fraction of the ballots.


 


-page 20: The regulations for referendum processes approved last year by the same CNE that organized the recall vote state in its Article 50 that the referendum vote should be manual. Despite this the whole process was automated. Why?


 


-page 20: The same regulations in Article 55 state that the “Acta” containing the results should indicate the number of valid votes and the number of ballots deposited in the container. This was not done.


 


-page 21: The law explicitly says that the Electoral registry has to be closed for the 90 days prior to an electoral process. It was opened until 45 days before. Why?


 


-page 26: According to the referendum regulations the process of requesting a recall vote should take no more than 155 days, it took 362 days.


 


-page 39: Three days before the vote the “hot audit” by which ballots would be counted at the same time that the machines would print the results, was reduced from 3% of the voting machines to 1% by the Electoral Board. The day before the vote the CNE decided to do it in only 20 of the 336 municipalities in the country, which were part of only 14 states. 192 machines were selected for these hot audits, only 76 were done, of these, the opposition was only present in 27 of them. International Observers were only allowed in ten of them, they raised no alarms about these irregularities.


 


-page 40: While observers said the audit performed on August 18th. had only small differences with the machine count, they failed to mention that 19% of the ballot boxes chosen for the audit were either missing or had integrity problems such that they had to be replaced by alternates.

The media keeps hammering at Carter

September 28, 2004

Well, the media is just not letting Jimmy Carter go away, The New York post had an Editorial today, and some highlights (Thanks Ed):


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


Oh, really?


Funny, Carter quickly endorsed the results of last month’s recall effort against Venezuela‘s President Hugo Chavez.


Carter’s election observers were supposed to do a wide survey of the more than 20,000 electronic voting machines. Instead, they did only a quick check of a few. Only days later, in the face of major criticism, was an audit made of 150 of the machines — too late to affect any result.


 


Gov. Bush also gets into the fray saying of Carter’s comments:


 


“There’s this constant haranguing of nonsense, including by President Carter, which is a huge surprise to me because I have admired his compassionate actions in his post-presidency,” Bush said. “Without talking to a single person, without getting any information, he joins up with the MoveOn.org crowd, and I cannot tell you how disappointed I am.”


 


And this blog also gave Mr. Carter a hard time; the comments may be as good as the post (Thanks Guillermo):


 


You should not only complain about the swing state of Florida, when the conditions that you claim do not meet “basic international requirements” exist in many states, including Democratic ones. Focusing only on Republican-controlled Florida might give people the misimpression that you care less about electoral justice, than in getting your own guy into the White House By Any Means Necessary.


 


LGL comment: They did not do a very good job at monitoring the procedures, and since the government controlled all the options in the game such as deciding not to allow the counting of the paper receipts printed along with the touch screen voting.


 


F. Toro comment: Well, from a Venezuelan perspective Carter’s little ditty was simply incredible. Not two months ago Carter was signing off on an election run by certainly the most partisan Elections Commission in Venezuela’s history, calling it free and fair, and saying allegations of wrongdoing have to be based on more than a systematic pattern of partisan behavior from the elections authorities…(you should see the crew that ran our referendum – ideological hardliners handpicked by Chavez’s handpicked judges.) Now…this!


 


Not, of course, that we’re not used to double standards coming from the north. Florida, of course, must have elections authorities purer than the virgin snow…but it’s ok if the barbarians in South America get one of the sides to run their polls…


Sigh…


 


A. Boyd comment: As everyone knows there is a huge fraud cloud above Chavez’ recent electoral win. The reason is quite simple, the international observers -namely OAS and Carter Center- did not do the job properly nor were they allowed to conduct and control the audits that would have cloaked with legitimacy the end result.


 


Anne Haight comment: I can’t imagine that anyone is actually impressed by Carter anymore, about anything. His performance in Venezuela was nothing less than grotesque. For him to point fingers at Florida is blatantly partisan, since the sorts of issues he complains about are 1) not confined to the state of Florida, and 2) not confined to one political party.


How can you possibly certify an election when the ruling party doesn’t allow a recount or an independent examination of the ballots? Apparently Carter has some magical ability to do so in places like Venezuela.


 


Daniel’s comment: It is indeed fitting to observe Carter’observer role observed in turn.


The Florida comments of Carter smack of third world contempt for us in Venezuela who have now to pay the consequences of a failed observation. Regardless of his hurried comments on August 16 at noon (and being contradicted during the press conference by the OAS head, incidentally), the Carter Center appears now to have failed at observing adequately the rigging of the electoral system BEFORE August 15 Venezuelan referendum.


 


This story will eventually be told, of the spineless Carter Center role in June and July 2004, not to say even encouraging the Venezuelan opposition to “play” the game under the pretense that the Carter Center would ensure a fair result. The governmental electoral abuse was for all to see and the Carter Center cannot not have seen it.


 


Thus, for one, I am not surprised at the different democratic standards that Carter applies in Florida. If anything I am embarrassed that I have supported him for so long in my blog. Whatever good he did in Venezuela was not only wiped out in a few days, but the peace maker probably left us closer to violence than when he started his “services”.

The media keeps hammering at Carter

September 28, 2004

Well, the media is just not letting Jimmy Carter go away, The New York post had an Editorial today, and some highlights (Thanks Ed):


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


Oh, really?


Funny, Carter quickly endorsed the results of last month’s recall effort against Venezuela‘s President Hugo Chavez.


Carter’s election observers were supposed to do a wide survey of the more than 20,000 electronic voting machines. Instead, they did only a quick check of a few. Only days later, in the face of major criticism, was an audit made of 150 of the machines — too late to affect any result.


 


Gov. Bush also gets into the fray saying of Carter’s comments:


 


“There’s this constant haranguing of nonsense, including by President Carter, which is a huge surprise to me because I have admired his compassionate actions in his post-presidency,” Bush said. “Without talking to a single person, without getting any information, he joins up with the MoveOn.org crowd, and I cannot tell you how disappointed I am.”


 


And this blog also gave Mr. Carter a hard time; the comments may be as good as the post (Thanks Guillermo):


 


You should not only complain about the swing state of Florida, when the conditions that you claim do not meet “basic international requirements” exist in many states, including Democratic ones. Focusing only on Republican-controlled Florida might give people the misimpression that you care less about electoral justice, than in getting your own guy into the White House By Any Means Necessary.


 


LGL comment: They did not do a very good job at monitoring the procedures, and since the government controlled all the options in the game such as deciding not to allow the counting of the paper receipts printed along with the touch screen voting.


 


F. Toro comment: Well, from a Venezuelan perspective Carter’s little ditty was simply incredible. Not two months ago Carter was signing off on an election run by certainly the most partisan Elections Commission in Venezuela’s history, calling it free and fair, and saying allegations of wrongdoing have to be based on more than a systematic pattern of partisan behavior from the elections authorities…(you should see the crew that ran our referendum – ideological hardliners handpicked by Chavez’s handpicked judges.) Now…this!


 


Not, of course, that we’re not used to double standards coming from the north. Florida, of course, must have elections authorities purer than the virgin snow…but it’s ok if the barbarians in South America get one of the sides to run their polls…


Sigh…


 


A. Boyd comment: As everyone knows there is a huge fraud cloud above Chavez’ recent electoral win. The reason is quite simple, the international observers -namely OAS and Carter Center- did not do the job properly nor were they allowed to conduct and control the audits that would have cloaked with legitimacy the end result.


 


Anne Haight comment: I can’t imagine that anyone is actually impressed by Carter anymore, about anything. His performance in Venezuela was nothing less than grotesque. For him to point fingers at Florida is blatantly partisan, since the sorts of issues he complains about are 1) not confined to the state of Florida, and 2) not confined to one political party.


How can you possibly certify an election when the ruling party doesn’t allow a recount or an independent examination of the ballots? Apparently Carter has some magical ability to do so in places like Venezuela.


 


Daniel’s comment: It is indeed fitting to observe Carter’observer role observed in turn.


The Florida comments of Carter smack of third world contempt for us in Venezuela who have now to pay the consequences of a failed observation. Regardless of his hurried comments on August 16 at noon (and being contradicted during the press conference by the OAS head, incidentally), the Carter Center appears now to have failed at observing adequately the rigging of the electoral system BEFORE August 15 Venezuelan referendum.


 


This story will eventually be told, of the spineless Carter Center role in June and July 2004, not to say even encouraging the Venezuelan opposition to “play” the game under the pretense that the Carter Center would ensure a fair result. The governmental electoral abuse was for all to see and the Carter Center cannot not have seen it.


 


Thus, for one, I am not surprised at the different democratic standards that Carter applies in Florida. If anything I am embarrassed that I have supported him for so long in my blog. Whatever good he did in Venezuela was not only wiped out in a few days, but the peace maker probably left us closer to violence than when he started his “services”.

The media keeps hammering at Carter

September 28, 2004

Well, the media is just not letting Jimmy Carter go away, The New York post had an Editorial today, and some highlights (Thanks Ed):


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


Oh, really?


Funny, Carter quickly endorsed the results of last month’s recall effort against Venezuela‘s President Hugo Chavez.


Carter’s election observers were supposed to do a wide survey of the more than 20,000 electronic voting machines. Instead, they did only a quick check of a few. Only days later, in the face of major criticism, was an audit made of 150 of the machines — too late to affect any result.


 


Gov. Bush also gets into the fray saying of Carter’s comments:


 


“There’s this constant haranguing of nonsense, including by President Carter, which is a huge surprise to me because I have admired his compassionate actions in his post-presidency,” Bush said. “Without talking to a single person, without getting any information, he joins up with the MoveOn.org crowd, and I cannot tell you how disappointed I am.”


 


And this blog also gave Mr. Carter a hard time; the comments may be as good as the post (Thanks Guillermo):


 


You should not only complain about the swing state of Florida, when the conditions that you claim do not meet “basic international requirements” exist in many states, including Democratic ones. Focusing only on Republican-controlled Florida might give people the misimpression that you care less about electoral justice, than in getting your own guy into the White House By Any Means Necessary.


 


LGL comment: They did not do a very good job at monitoring the procedures, and since the government controlled all the options in the game such as deciding not to allow the counting of the paper receipts printed along with the touch screen voting.


 


F. Toro comment: Well, from a Venezuelan perspective Carter’s little ditty was simply incredible. Not two months ago Carter was signing off on an election run by certainly the most partisan Elections Commission in Venezuela’s history, calling it free and fair, and saying allegations of wrongdoing have to be based on more than a systematic pattern of partisan behavior from the elections authorities…(you should see the crew that ran our referendum – ideological hardliners handpicked by Chavez’s handpicked judges.) Now…this!


 


Not, of course, that we’re not used to double standards coming from the north. Florida, of course, must have elections authorities purer than the virgin snow…but it’s ok if the barbarians in South America get one of the sides to run their polls…


Sigh…


 


A. Boyd comment: As everyone knows there is a huge fraud cloud above Chavez’ recent electoral win. The reason is quite simple, the international observers -namely OAS and Carter Center- did not do the job properly nor were they allowed to conduct and control the audits that would have cloaked with legitimacy the end result.


 


Anne Haight comment: I can’t imagine that anyone is actually impressed by Carter anymore, about anything. His performance in Venezuela was nothing less than grotesque. For him to point fingers at Florida is blatantly partisan, since the sorts of issues he complains about are 1) not confined to the state of Florida, and 2) not confined to one political party.


How can you possibly certify an election when the ruling party doesn’t allow a recount or an independent examination of the ballots? Apparently Carter has some magical ability to do so in places like Venezuela.


 


Daniel’s comment: It is indeed fitting to observe Carter’observer role observed in turn.


The Florida comments of Carter smack of third world contempt for us in Venezuela who have now to pay the consequences of a failed observation. Regardless of his hurried comments on August 16 at noon (and being contradicted during the press conference by the OAS head, incidentally), the Carter Center appears now to have failed at observing adequately the rigging of the electoral system BEFORE August 15 Venezuelan referendum.


 


This story will eventually be told, of the spineless Carter Center role in June and July 2004, not to say even encouraging the Venezuelan opposition to “play” the game under the pretense that the Carter Center would ensure a fair result. The governmental electoral abuse was for all to see and the Carter Center cannot not have seen it.


 


Thus, for one, I am not surprised at the different democratic standards that Carter applies in Florida. If anything I am embarrassed that I have supported him for so long in my blog. Whatever good he did in Venezuela was not only wiped out in a few days, but the peace maker probably left us closer to violence than when he started his “services”.

Chavez’ promise to Carter two years later

September 28, 2004

Closing the Carter Chapter for the time being, in October 2002, when this was a young blog, I translated an article from Tal Cual in which the promises Chavez made to the US President were listed with witty comments from Tal Cual’s Editor Petkoff next to each one. Two years later, only two of the twelve promises have been or were ever fulfilled. Has Carter ever reminded Chavez about them?

Chavez’ promise to Carter two years later

September 28, 2004

Closing the Carter Chapter for the time being, in October 2002, when this was a young blog, I translated an article from Tal Cual in which the promises Chavez made to the US President were listed with witty comments from Tal Cual’s Editor Petkoff next to each one. Two years later, only two of the twelve promises have been or were ever fulfilled. Has Carter ever reminded Chavez about them?

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.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 11,584 other followers