Tuesday, August 16, 2005

A year from the referendum 

Eleazar Diaz Rangel wrote a good editorial on last years Recall Referendum in Ultimas Noticias today. Its worth reprinting:

On the 25th of August, 2004, the ambassadors of the 34 countries that make up the Organization of American States, after studying the report made by the mission to observe the Presidential Recall Referendum in Venezuela on Sunday the 15th approved resolution number 833 that in its central part said: “The Permanent Council of the OAS makes a unanimous call to recognize and accept the results of the Presidential Recall Referendum given, as is their responsibility, by National Electoral Council (CNE) and approved by the OAS observation mission, the Carter Center, and the other international observers”. It concludes congratulating the president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, for the electoral triumph he had obtained with 59.25% (5,800,600) versus 40.47% (3,989,629). Among those who voted for this resolution was the U.S. ambassador John Maisto.

This call was not accepted by the opposition, which persisted in making accusations of fraud that they could never demonstrate at any time, either inside or outside of Venezuela, and whose effects were felt in the regional elections of last October when their vote went down by 2 million and, more recently, on Sunday August 7th when their vote went down another million.

Lets review the reasons to believe there was no fraud:

In two prior national elections (December 1998 and in 2000) the proportion was also 60-40 in favor of Chavez. The 8 diverse polls carried out between July and August, gave the NO [ie. in favor of Chavez – ow] as the probable winner with margins of victory between 6% and 34%. The audits by the observers also confirmed the results, as did the count of the 1,200,000 manual votes.

Since then, and with large scale support by the media, the opposition has tried to create an atmosphere of lack of confidence in the electoral system and the CNE which has increased abstention and which has hurt, more than anyone, the opposition itself who have now lost 3 governors and almost 100 mayors and now more than 500 town council members.

Nevertheless, in the period from August 15th, 2004 to August 15th, 2005 Venezuela’s economic indicators have improved substantially. The relationship between the business community and the government has improved and although the relationship between the government and the opposition parties and the church cannot be said to have improved there is a more relaxed atmosphere throughout the country.

Indeed. Since last August the Chavez administration, and Venezuela as a whole, has gone from strength to strength and victory to victory.

As for the opposition, they are as quite as can be on the anniversary of the referendum. Not a peep to be heard. In fact, they didn't even try to trot out a re-hash about all the alledged fraud they were so insistent on last year. Of course, over the past year it has been amply demonstrated by independant observers that there was no fraud. So maybe the opposition finally realized the best thing they can do is keep their mouth shut and pretend nothing happened.


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