Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Let some one new deal with the loonies 

Last summers referendum was overseen by observers from both the Carter Center and the Organization of American States. Due to their observations indicating that the elections results were accurate and that Chavez won they were immediately attacked as incompetents and stooges of Chavez by the opposition. Of course, the opposition never came up with any evidence of fraud that has withstood scrutiny and today even most opposition types admit Chavez won. Nevertheless, the opposition being what it is no apologies have been offered to the CC or the OAS for all the scurrilous and unfounded accusations made against them. In fact, they are now personas non grata in Venezuela as far as the opposition is concerned.

So now the thankless task of overseeing electoral processes in Venezuela will have to fall to someone else. For the moment the new (and very unlucky!) kid on the block is Center of Electoral Assistance and Promotion (Capel in Spanish). Capel is part of the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights based in Costa Rica. This organization has assisted with numerous elections throughout Latin America.

Capel currently has a mission in Venezuela working on what is currently the key electoral project – the revision and verification of the voter lists. The actual compilation of the voter lists is carried out by the National Electoral Council (CNE). However, the opposition maintains that the CNE has a pro-Chavez bias and insists that anything it does be verified by outside parties. To that end the current Capel mission is to review the voting lists for the upcoming municipal elections and ensure that they are accurate.

Due to the enormous size of the voter list, over 14 million registered voters, only a sample will be reviewed. The CNE has proposed that a sample of 1% of the registrations be audited. Capel is in basic agreement with this. However, the opposition parties have wanted the entire voter list be reviewed. Recently they have reduced their demand to just 3% of the list. In any event Capel is bringing in more technical personnel to set up the audit and has tried to assure all the parties involved that the audit will be methodologically sound, thorough, and transparent. Undoubtedly it will be, as Capel has plenty of experience in these types of activities and there is no reason to believe that Capel itself has any bias.

However, the opposition at this point has a long history of attacking any organization that tells them things they don’t want to hear. So if the opposition is determined to undermine the local elections by claiming the voter rolls are somehow wrong it should be interesting watching them sink their fangs into Capel. I really hope the people from Capel brought their earplugs and can deal with lots of banging of pots and blowing of whistles at 3 a.m.!!!!

One last rather comical aspect to this. The opposition in this case consists of the representatives of various opposition political parties, AD, COPEI, Primero Justicia, etc. This creates a problem for the opposition in as much as these people can’t keep their stories straight. For example, last week when the CNE gave them a copy of the voter list they complained that they only got a list of names and nothing else. Well today, the leader the “Democratic Left”, Vicente Bello, complained that the data given out last week was replete with false names, bad addresses, re-located addresses, etc. etc. Hmmm, I wonder how they figured all of that out if they only have a list of names and nothing else? A bunch of straight shooters these opposition types are not.


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