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Capriles Formally Contests Elections Before Venezuela’s Supreme Court

By Chris Carlson | Venezuelanalysis | May 2, 2013

Maracaibo – Representatives from the electoral campaign of ex-presidential candidate Henrique Capriles formally contested last month’s elections before Venezuela’s Supreme Court today.

The legal procedure submitted to the court has the objective of annulling April’s presidential elections in which Henrique Capriles lost to Nicolas Maduro by less than 2 points, and to allow for the elections to be repeated.

“We submitted this demand to contest the elections due to fraud and bias [of the electoral body],” said Gerardo Fernández, the attorney for the Capriles campaign.

“We want to show that the electoral system is broken: the campaign, the permanent issues in the electoral registry, the abuse of state resources, and all of the irregularities on election day,” he said.

The Capriles campaign reportedly submitted a 180-page document to Venezuela’s Supreme Court, and also requested that two of the Supreme Court justices to recuse themselves from ruling on the case.

They are demanding that Judges Jhannett Maria Madriz and Malaquias Gil not be allowed to be involved in the case for having already given their opinion of the fraud claims, and for “their close ties to Nicolas Maduro”.

It is now up to Venezuela’s Supreme Court to decide if the challenge is justified, and if so, to establish the timeframe for the evidence to be presented to the court.

Fernandez said they would present evidence from before, during, and after the elections, including the “unbalanced” campaign, the “irregularities” on election day, and the auditing process afterwards.

“We are contesting the activities before the April 14th elections, the electoral process on the 14th, and the activities that occurred after that day,” he said.

Capriles has refused to accept the results, and alleged fraud after Maduro’s victory was announced on the night of April 14th.

However, he has yet to provide any solid evidence that would indicate any fraud actually took place.

After demanding a recount from the National Electoral Council (CNE), Capriles seemed to agree to an extended audit of nearly 100 percent of the ballot boxes. Capriles subsequently rejected this audit when the CNE would not include an audit of the voter registry.

Capriles demanded a verification of all the signatures and fingerprints that voters place in the voter registry at the time of voting, but the CNE has said this would be impossible, as there are more than 15 million signatures and fingerprints that would have to be evaluated.

The CNE and other government officials have said Capriles lacks any proof, and have accused the Capriles campaign of making “impossible” demands in an attempt to claim the institutions are not democratic when their requests are denied.

Capriles has already stated that he doesn’t expect a “fair” ruling from Venezuela’s Supreme Court, which he accuses of being controlled by the government.

But the Capriles campaign has said they will go through all domestic institutions before taking their complaints before international institutions.

May 3, 2013 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Auditing Process Begins in Venezuela amid Opposition Claims of “Lies” and “Persecution”

By Tamara Pearson | Venezuelanalysis |  April 30, 2013

Merida  – As Venezuela’s electoral organisation begins auditing the 14 April elections, ex-opposition candidate Henrique Capriles has announced his team will not participate, Spain has offered to mediate the “conflict”, and the arrest of retired general Antonio Rivero has been met with accusations of “political persecution”.

Auditing process

Yesterday the National Electoral Council (CNE) began preparations to audit the 46% of voting boxes not already audited on the day of the elections. The process is the result of a deal reached between the CNE and the opposition, although since making the agreement Capriles has withdrawn his support for it.

Yesterday the CNE set up the technical group which will carry out the auditing, approved by the electoral organisation on 18 April. The opposition requested one witness per candidate in the broadcasting/information room, and another one in the “contingency rooms” with working group members, which was approved by the CNE.

“These additional guarantees, including the second auditing… add up to a total of 18 auditing processes, which are now not being recognised and are being silenced [by the opposition]. With this, they are seeking to damage the electoral process, alluding to things that were already checked and certified by their own technicians, as is demonstrated by the minutes that are publicly available,” CNE head Tibisay Lucena said.

Nevertheless, the CNE is continuing with the process, and now that the technical group is set up, today it is conducting the random selection process of boxes in storage that were not already audited on 14 April.

From 2-5 May the material to be audited will be organised, and from today until 2 May the CNE will be selecting and training the auditors, who will then be accredited on 3 May.

Then, the first phase of this second audit will occur between 6-15 May, the second phase from 16-25 May and the third phase from 26 May to 4 June. Venezuelan citizens will conduct the audit in the Mariches storehouse, where all the boxes are currently stored.

A team from the Central University of Venezuela will accompany the process and 24 auditors, 60 external auditing assistants, 60 CNE assistants, 6 external coordinators, 12 CNE coordinators, and 30 technicians from political organisations will be involved in the process.

Capriles’ stance on auditing process

Capriles today confirmed that his team is “preparing evidence” in order to legally challenge the electoral results through Venezuela’s Supreme Court. He said they would likely lodge the appeal between this Thursday and the following Monday. He has until 6 May to challenge the election results.

“The next step, as I have indicated, will be for me to request an annulment of the results, and in so doing eliminate the matter legally as a domestic issue,” Capriles said.

Further, he called the audit a “farce”, said that Lucena was being “ordered” by “her party”, and claimed his reason for refusing to back the process was that there won’t be “access to the voting books, the only instrument that personalises the vote, where the thumb prints and the signatures are”.

Capriles said the heads of the CNE “lie and make fun of” Venezuelans by saying they will conduct a complete audit, and “sooner than later the country will have a new election… a government like this, based on illegitimacy, won’t be able to sustain the lie”.

“I have no doubt that this will end up before an international body,” Capriles concluded. This document was submitted by the opposition to the CNE, claiming to prove fraud committed during the voting on 14 April.

United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) leader Diosdado Cabello also stated he didn’t agree with the second audit, arguing, “If those who requested it aren’t going to be present, what’s the sense in doing it? Why spend time, money and work [on it]?… The opposition knows that the result of these audits will favour Nicolas Maduro … however, we respect the decision of the CNE”.

Spain offers to mediate

Spain has offered to mediate between the two sides “to guarantee peace, prosperity and stability in Venezuela,” its foreign minister, Jose Manuel Garcia Margallo said. Garcia is currently visiting Washington in order to speak at a meeting of the Organisation of American States (OAS) and today is set to meet with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. After the 14 April elections, Garcia initially supported a recount and “noted” that the CNE had proclaimed Maduro the winner of the elections; however Spain later officially recognised the victory.

Garcia clarified that the Venezuelan government is the one who should request mediation.

Meanwhile, two opposition legislators, Angel Medina and Tomas Guanipa, informed press today that since 22 April they have been visiting political leaders of the European Union, including Spain, France, Germany and Belgium, to “present and explain the political situation in Venezuela”. According to Guanipa, the leaders have reacted with “astonishment” to the “proof” of persecution that “Venezuelans are subject to, especially workers who decided to support Capriles”.

Arrest of opposition leader and retired general Rivero

Late last week, Venezuelan security forces arrested a US citizen, claiming he was connected to an alleged plot to “violently destabilise the country” after the elections. As part of the investigation into the plot, authorities also presented a video showing opposition member and retired army general Antonio Rivero appearing to give tactical advice to opposition protesters on 15 April. In the video Rivero also referred to the role of Capriles in leading those protests.

Rivero has now been arrested for allegedly being an accessory to a crime and conspiring to commit a felony, according to his lawyer Guillermo Heredia. Rivero is being held in the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (Sebin) headquarters, and has declared himself on a hunger strike.

In response to the arrest, opposition leader Leopold Lopez alleged that Rivero is a “political prisoner” and that it “is the first step towards the illegalisation of political parties” in Venezuela.

Capriles called the arrest a “sign of fascism”.

According to Venezuelan Attorney General, Luisa Ortega Díaz, the violent events which took place on 15 April and 16 April, after the general election, left 9 dead and 78 injured.

Update on voting results

The CNE yesterday updated the voting results to include votes cast overseas. 93.1% of these votes (53,845) were for Capriles, and 6.8% (3,919) were for Maduro. 62% of voters registered with Venezuelan embassies voted. 88.7% (3,383) of those in Colombia voted for Capriles, and 97.9% of those in the United States (18,237) voted for him. To be eligible to vote overseas Venezuelans must have legal residency in those countries.

That means that 99.93% of votes have now been tallied, with Nicolas Maduro obtaining 7,586,251 votes (50.61%) and Capriles 7,361,512 votes (49.12%).

May 1, 2013 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | Leave a comment

Venezuela’s Electoral Council Says Capriles Lacks Proof of Fraud

By Chris Carlson | Venezuelanalysis | April 28, 2013

Maracaibo – Venezuela’s National Electoral Council (CNE) announced yesterday that they would not approve Henrique Capriles’ additional demands for the auditing of the April 14 elections, and explained that he lacks any proof of fraud.

The announcement was made on Saturday night via a televised statement by CNE President Tibisay Lucena.

Lucena explained that the expanded audit process would be carried out as planned, but the additional demands that the Capriles campaign have made in recent days would not be included.

“It is important to note that the political parties already audited the electoral process at each stage, certifying the integrity and correct functioning of the system,” said Lucena.

“Representatives from each party signed off on each one, as can be seen in the documents on the CNE website…there were a total of 18 auditing processes, but now they are being silenced and ignored in an attempt to discredit the electoral process,” she said.

Venezuela’s electoral process includes extensive auditing throughout the entire process, including audits of the computer software, electoral rolls, machine functioning, finger ink, data transmission and vote tallying, with the presence of representatives from all political parties.

However, Capriles requested an additional audit after the elections on April 14th, stating that there had been irregularities and that the election was “stolen”.

After Capriles’ request for an additional audit was approved by the CNE last week, his campaign began to demand a more extensive audit, including a revision of the electoral rolls, which were already audited before the election.

“We announced the decision for an additional audit and Capriles publicly accepted. But in later statements he and his spokespeople said it was not enough, and that a different kind of audit was necessary,” said Lucena.

“They began demanding things that had already been audited by their own representatives, such as the electoral rolls, as the signed documents from those audits clearly show,” she said.

Lucena went on to explain that the Capriles campaign had the right to formally challenge the election before Venezuela’s Supreme Court. However, they would have to show proof that fraud occurred, something she said was lacking among the evidenced submitted by the Capriles campaign.

“[Capriles’ evidence] does not constitute any proof of how votes were affected, nor how the results could have been affected without it showing up in the vote tallies that were audited in each voting center by party representatives,” she said.

Lucena gave several examples from the evidence submitted by Capriles in which no concrete information was provided so that the CNE could investigate.

Apparently, much of the evidence was presented in the same basic format that Capriles used during a press conference last week, in which very general claims were simply printed on sheets of paper.

Lucena said without more specific information there was no way that they could be independently verified, nor could it be confirmed if anyone’s vote was actually affected.

“The documents submitted by Capriles last week do not state clearly and precisely the incidents in which the rules were broken. They do not give the specific voting centers, who was involved, nor what possible damage could have occurred as a result,” she said.

Lucena went on to explain that the additional audit of the remaining 46 percent of ballot boxes will proceed as planned and will begin on May 6th.

Capriles’ Response

Henrique Capriles responded on Sunday to the CNE’s announcement with further criticism of the electoral body.

“It’s impossible for Mrs. Tibisay to do anything against the orders of her political party, the PSUV. The nation would find out the truth!” he wrote via Twitter.

He also said that he would continue to challenge the election results inside Venezuela, and internationally as well.

“Soon we will have new elections. Every day we are stronger!” he continued.

On Saturday, Capriles affirmed in an interview that he would continue the process before Venezuela’s Supreme Court, and then in international institutions if needed.

“We think Venezuela’s Supreme Court has been converted into a court of the government, but we must exhaust all the institutions before taking it before international institutions,” he said.

Venezuelan Ambassador to the United Kingdom Samuel Moncada said that this stance by the opposition is very similar to the situation before the 2002 coup attempt in Venezuela.

“They are going to say that the CNE ignored them, and so did the Supreme Court, and they are going to take it to the Organization of American States (OAS), but after all the legal mechanisms are exhausted they will try the illegal ones, like calling for a general strike,” he said.

“They will take all legal forms to the limit, like they did in 2002, and try to take the movement to its limit so that the Armed Forces will intervene,” he said.

April 29, 2013 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | Leave a comment

Venezuelan Government Accuses Capriles of Making “Impossible” Demands

By Chris Carlson | Venezuelanalysis | April 25, 2013

Maracaibo – Opposition leader Henrique Capriles claimed yesterday that the presidential elections were “stolen”, and demanded further audit measures that the Venezuelan government has said are “impossible”.

Capriles made the statements during a press conference on Wednesday in which he gave the government an ultimatum regarding the audit.

“The truth is that you stole the elections, that’s the truth. You stole the elections and now you have to explain that to the country and the world,” he said.

Capriles demanded that the National Electoral Council (CNE) begin the auditing process immediately, and said his campaign will refuse to wait any longer.

“That is what we are demanding. We will give you until tomorrow,” he said, though he did not say what would happen if the CNE did not respond.

However, the CNE had already said last week that it would announce the beginning of the audit this week, and was expected to make an announcement today.

The Capriles campaign went on to demand a series of additional audit measures that are not included in the audit that has been approved by the CNE. His campaign representative Roberto Picón said that in addition to a complete audit of the electoral machines and the paper ballots, they are also demanding access to the electoral registry, the fingerprint system and a verification of each individual voter.

“We are asking for complete access to the electoral registry, not only to count how many people voted but also to audit all of the details, to audit the people that voted to see if there are dead people who voted, or foreigners, or duplicates, and to see if there are fake fingerprints,” said Picón.

He further said that they are demanding the CNE validate every individual fingerprint in the system, comparing each fingerprint to every other to assure none are duplicated, validate every person’s signature on the day of the elections and that they provide proof that none of the electoral data has been altered since the elections last week.

“If it doesn’t include the electoral registry, then it is not an audit. We won’t accept a shoddy audit,” said Capriles.

Various government officials have responded to these demands, saying they would be impossible to meet, and that the Capriles campaign knows it.

“They are making requests to the CNE that are absolutely impossible to grant. They are asking that every fingerprint and every signature of the almost 15 million people who participated in the electoral process be verified,” said Calixo Ortega.

“This would take like 5 years to verify, because it takes hours to verify a single fingerprint or signature, and there are 15 million that would have to be verified,” he said.

“It appears that they are purposely making requests that cannot be granted so that they can later say that the CNE has denied their request,” he explained.

Maduro’s campaign manager Jorge Rodgriguez also responded to Capriles, accusing him of attempting to create more violence in the country.

“Now Capriles says the elections were stolen. Where is the proof? Where is a single piece of evidence of that? If you can’t show any evidence, then it didn’t happen,” said Rodriguez.

Rodriguez also accused Capriles of attempting to generate more violence in the country.

“What are you doing giving the government an ultimatum like that? You have already left a cemetery in your wake with 9 fellow Venezuelans dead from the violence you created,” he said.

Capriles has yet to present any evidence of fraud in the April 14th elections. In the days following the elections, he mentioned various examples that were all promptly shown to be false.

Venezuela’s electoral council is expected to announce the timeframe of the auditing process today or tomorrow. It is unlikely that the additional measures being demanded by the Capriles campaign will be included in the audit.

April 26, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , | 2 Comments

Venezuela’s Electoral Council Approves Audit of 100 Percent of Votes

By Chris Carlson | Venezuelanalysis | April 18th, 2013

Maracaibo – Venezuela’s National Electoral Council (CNE) announced Thursday that it would carry out an audit of 100 percent of the votes in last Sunday’s presidential elections.

CNE President Tibisay Lucena made the announcement in a nationwide broadcast this evening, after the Capriles campaign formally submitted a request for a full recount on Wednesday.

A random audit of 54 percent of the votes is routinely conducted immediately after the polls close on election day, and was done without any discrepancies on Sunday evening.

However, opposition leaders have refused to recognize the official results, and demanded a full recount of 100 percent of the votes.

Protests erupted around the country demanding a recount after Capriles refused to recognize the outcome, and resulted in various deaths and dozens wounded. Yet the Capriles campaign did not formally request a recount as stipulated by law until yesterday evening.

The CNE’s decision will not be a full recount of the votes as the opposition has demanded, but rather an audit of the remaining 46 percent of the votes that were not audited on the night of the elections.

“We will select a sample that will be audited for 10 days and a report of the results will be emitted. This procedure will be repeated every 10 days for 30 days in the presence of witnesses from both camps,” said Lucena.

Lucena said that 400 ballot boxes would be audited per day, and that the start date of the audit process will be announced next week.

Opposition leader Henrique Capriles immediately responded by accepting the CNE decision, and claimed that the full audit would reveal the elections were fraudulent.

“Sooner or later the truth will come out, and not only will it come out but it will have real consequences,” he said.

Capriles claimed that according to their analysis the problems with the vote count are in the 46 percent of the ballot boxes that were not audited on Sunday night.

“Our calculations show that it is about 12,000 ballot boxes. We know where the problems are. They are in those 12,000 boxes,” he said.

However, given that the initial audit on election night of 54 percent of the ballot boxes is a random hot audit of half the ballot boxes in each voting center, it is extremely unlikely that any fraud attempts would not have been detected by the initial audit.

In addition, the examples of irregularities in the vote count given by Capriles so far have all been shown to be false.

There also seemed to be some confusion about the extent of the audit. Capriles insisted that it would be a complete review of voter rolls, vote tallies, and paper receipts. However, the CNE audit is strictly a comparison of paper receipts to vote tallies to make sure they match.

Capriles called on his supporters to continue protesting against the government, and called for activities to protest President Nicolas Maduro’s swearing-in ceremony on Friday.

Referring to the wave of violence in recent days, including attacks on government health clinics and PSUV political party offices, Capriles accused the government of committing the attacks themselves, and did not acknowledge the violent deaths of several government supporters in recent days.

April 19, 2013 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | Leave a comment

Capriles Falsifies Evidence in Order to Claim Fraud in Venezuela’s Elections

By Chris Carlson | Venezuelanalysis | April 17th, 2013

Maracaibo – Opposition leader Henrique Capriles has given falsified evidence to support his claims that there was fraud in Venezuela’s presidential elections on Sunday.

At a press conference on Tuesday, the opposition candidate listed several examples that he claimed were evidence of “irregularities” in the electoral process and in the vote count, and presented a series of slides to national and international media.

However, several of the examples given by Capriles as evidence of fraud are clearly false, as can be seen by consulting the results on the National Electoral Council’s (CNE) website.

As one example, Capriles listed three separate voting centers in which he claimed Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro had gotten much higher results than Hugo Chavez had gotten in the previous presidential elections.

Capriles claimed that this was implausible, since overall Maduro did not get as many total votes as Chavez.

“In one voting center in Yaracuy, Maduro got 1000 percent more votes than Chavez did. How can anyone believe that?” he said.

However, the results from last year’s election show that the three voting centers that Capriles gave as examples were cases in which all the votes from that center had not yet been registered in 2012’s results when the election was called for Chavez, leading to an extremely low vote count from those centers for both candidates.

In the Yaracuy voting center, for example, a total of only 9 votes out of 75 were registered in 2012’s elections, 7 for Hugo Chavez and 2 votes for Henrique Capriles.

However, on Sunday all the votes from this center were registered before the election was called, leading to 73 votes for Nicolas Maduro, and only 6 votes for Henrique Capriles.

The same situation can be seen for the examples Capriles gave in Merida (2012 vs. 2013), and Nueva Esparta (2012 vs. 2013), centers at which there was a very low vote count in 2012.

Given the unusually low vote count in these centers in 2012, the votes for both candidates drastically increases when compared to 2013’s results.

In the Merida voting center, for example, votes for Capriles also increased by nearly 1000 percent, and were also much higher than the number of votes for Chavez from that center in 2012.

Other examples given by Capriles were also fabricated by manipulating the numbers of different vote tallies.

Capriles claimed that in some cases there were more votes than total voters registered at that voting center. However, the only example provided by Capriles is also false.

Capriles said that at a voting center in the state of Trujillo the number of voters for this center was 536, but that a total of 717 votes were tallied. However, CNE’s results for this voting center show only 369 votes were tallied, not 717.

Communications Minister Ernesto Villegas explained during a press conference last night that Capriles had erroneously added together the votes from two separate voting tables, but was using the voter rolls from only one of the two tables.

To counter Capriles claims, government officials have pledged to publish online at the PSUV’s website all of the actual vote tallies from the thousands of voting centers around the country so that the public can see that the official results line up with the individual vote tallies.

Electoral witnesses from the Capriles campaign presumably signed off on all of the vote tallies, as they would have been present at the voting centers at the closing of the polls on Sunday.

The nature of Venezuela’s electoral system makes the kind of fraud alleged by Capriles nearly impossible. Witnesses from both sides are present at every voting center around the country, and a random hot audit of 54 percent of the votes is conducted at all of the centers in the presence of all witnesses immediately after the polls close.

The paper receipts that each voter deposits in a sealed box are counted to assure that they line up with the tally from the voting machines, and all witnesses sign the tallies to certify that they witnessed the audit.

However, Capriles claimed yesterday that his witnesses were forcibly ejected, often at gunpoint, from nearly 300 voting centers around the country on Sunday.

No evidence was provided for this claim, and no independent reports of this happening were registered by any major media outlets on the day of the elections.

Pro-Chavez political commentator Mario Silva responded to the claim last night by questioning how this could have happened without anyone noticing.

“Do you really believe that hundreds of witnesses could be forcibly removed from the voting centers without anyone saying anything? Why haven’t any of those witnesses made a denunciation or talked to the media?” he said.

Capriles has pledged to turn over all of his “evidence” of fraud to the National Electoral Council for review, and pledges to continue to demand a recount, or that the election be annulled.

The government has reported that 7 people have been killed so far in the violence that erupted around the country after Capriles claimed the elections were fraudulent.

April 18, 2013 Posted by | Deception | , , , | 1 Comment

Presidential Candidate Henrique Capriles: Leading to Nowhere

Correo Del Orinoco International, April 7th 2013

Venezuelan democracy is about to be tested, once again. On April 14th, just weeks after the regrettable and untimely death of widely popular Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Frias (1954 – 2013), voters will decide who is to govern during the 2013-2019 period Chavez was elected to late last year. For the country’s socialist majority, who secured Chavez 8.1 million votes (55%) in the 2012 election, Interim President Nicolas Maduro is their candidate. Meanwhile, the US-backed opposition, who for years assured voters that “Chavismo without Chavez” was next to impossible, has again chosen right-wing politician Henrique Capriles Radonski to represent them at the ballot box.

Having lost to Chavez by over a million votes, Capriles is now running on a campaign aimed at dividing pro-Chavez forces and discrediting the country’s democratic institutions, something his political career depends on.

BORN INTO WEALTH

Son of Cristina Radonski Bocheneck and Henrique Capriles Garcia, 40-year old Capriles comes from one of Venezuela’s wealthiest families. The Radonskis own, the country’s largest chain of private movie theaters, while the Capriles own numerous private media outlets (Cadena Capriles) and are said to have important investments in industrial and real estate holdings. Among other things, his parents’ wealth allowed Capriles to study law at Caracas’ private Andres Bello Catholic University and participate in numerous international student exchange programs in Italy and the United States.

In 1995, a freshly-graduated Capriles dove into Venezuelan politics by acting as legal counsel to his cousin and then lawmaker Armando Capriles. Serving his cousin during the closing years (1995-1998) of the so-called Fourth Republic (1958-1998), Capriles got his taste for politics just as Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez won the first (1998) of many electoral victories to come.

Eager to represent his family and social class at a time of heated national debate surrounding President Chavez’s proposal for a Constitutional Assembly, Capriles accepted a backdoor nomination from Venezuela’s right-wing party, Social Christian Democrats (Copei), and won a seat in the final Congress (1998) convened during the Fourth Republic.

Not exactly illegal, Copei placed Caracas-based Capriles on the ballot to represent Maracaibo, capital of Zulia, where the party had a strong base of support at the time. A trained lawyer, he was sure to respect existing electoral laws by renting an apartment in Maracaibo during the course of the election.

According to investigative journalist Eva Golinger, in 2001 Capriles’ nascent Justice First party was the principal beneficiary of funds spent in Venezuela by the US National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and International Republican Institute (IRI). That year alone, the latter spent $340,000 “training” members of Justice First and others of the country’s anti-Chavez minority on, among other things, “external party communication and coalition building”.

UNDIPLOMATIC MAYOR

From 2000 to 2008, Capriles served as Mayor of the wealthy eastern Caracas neighborhood of Baruta. During the short-lived 2002 coup against President Chavez, anti-communist protestors gathered outside the Cuban embassy (located in Baruta), cutting both water and electricity and threatening to storm the building. In response to requests by embassy staff for police protection, Capriles joined the protestors and forced his way into the embassy by climbing over its perimeter walls.

As Golinger notes in her book, The Chavez Code, Capriles “violated diplomatic law by forcing entry into the embassy, where he attempted to persuade Cuban Ambassador German Sanchez Otero to turn in Vice President Diosdado Cabello and other Chavez government officials whom the opposition believed were taking refuge in the embassy”.

“Though Ambassador Sanchez Otero permitted Capriles Radonski on the premises to engage in dialogue”, explains Golinger, “he made it clear that the actions were violating diplomatic law”. Capriles “attempted to force a search of the inside of the embassy by threatening the ambassador that the situation would only worsen if a full search were not allowed. When the ambassador stood firm, Capriles Radonski left the embassy”.

The right-wing mayor allowed protests to continue as they were, abandoning the Cuban diplomats and their request for help. Fortunately, for embassy staff and Venezuelan democracy, massive pro-Chavez demonstrations reversed the short-lived coup before things got worse.

FROM GOVERNOR TO “LEADER”

Taking advantage of his family’s wealth, access to the press, and personal contacts, in 2008 Capriles moved up the political ladder by winning the governorship of Miranda, a state with some 2.6 million inhabitants. In 2012, the opposition coalition chose Capriles to “lead” their failed attempt to defeat President Chavez at the ballot box.

The Washington backed Capriles lost the election by over a million votes but kept his political career alive by returning to win Miranda’s gubernatorial race just two months later in a regional election that saw socialist candidates win 20 out of 23 governorships.

On March 10th, as the Venezuelan people were in the midst of mourning the loss of President Chavez, Capriles held a rushed press conference in which he accused Interim President Nicolas Maduro and others in Venezuela’s socialist leadership of “lying to the public about Chavez’s health”. Among other things, he claimed Chavez’s family and the country’s National Electoral Commission (CNE) had “planned with milli-metric detail” the March 5th announcement of Chavez’s passing as well as the now pending April 14th election. His strategy, it seems, is to try to divide the pro-Chavez majority while preparing for what is sure to be another electoral defeat.

Though he currently is the opposition’s most well-known elected official, a recent poll by Venezuela-based Datanalisis found only 34.8% of voters intend to vote for Capriles. The same poll found 49.2% of voters intend to elect socialist candidate Nicolas Maduro. The International Consulting Service (ICS) found 58.2% of voters intend to vote for Maduro, 17% more than the 40.5% that plan to elect Capriles. The Venezuelan Institute for Data Analysis (IVAD) found the gap to be even wider, with 53.8% of voters planning to vote for Maduro and 31.6% for Capriles, a difference of 22%.

April 8, 2013 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | 1 Comment

Polls Show Maduro Leading Capriles for Venezuelan Presidential Elections

By Tamara Pearson | Venezuelanalysis | March 19, 2013

Merida  – Private poll company Datanalisis has found that interim president Nicolas Maduro has a 14% lead over opposition candidate Henrique Capriles, with 16% of respondents still undecided, or intending to vote for other candidates.

NicolAs-Maduro-300x193Yesterday Barclays/Datanalisis released a report in which 65% of respondents believe that pro-Chavez candidate Nicolas Maduro will win the 14 April presidential elections.

Barclays is a British multinational financial services company, and Datanalisis is a private Venezuelan company, whose poll results generally favour the opposition, but also tend to be closer to final election outcomes than some other private polling companies.

According to their poll, 49.2% of respondents intend to vote for Maduro, while 34.8% said they will vote for opposition contender Henrique Capriles, giving Maduro a prospective lead of 14.4%. Datanalisis conducted the poll from 11 March to 13 March; the days following the candidates’ registrations to run in the elections.

Only 15% of respondents believed Capriles would win the upcoming elections. Barclays identified this as a “risk” for the opposition, as a “lack of enthusiasm could lead to the abstention of voters”.

“In that sense, Capriles’s reaction has been an aggressive campaign to try to revitalize opposition voters. He is presenting the election in terms of a battle against adverse and unfair conditions, in which a significant portion of the country (roughly half of it) deserves to be heard,” the financial company’s report concluded.

The results also show that the passing of President Hugo Chavez only had a minor impact on voting intentions. Results from the same company, from a poll conducted on 20 February, show the voting intention for Maduro at 46.4%, just 2.8% less than the more recent poll. The voting intention for Capriles was 34.3%, 0.5% less than the recent poll.

The results suggest a high percentage of undecided votes, abstentions or intentions to vote for other candidates, at 16%.

Barclays argued, “Considering the short period for campaigning, the sympathy effect just after the death of Chavez, restrictions on the press, and the demobilisation of the opposition following two defeats last year, Maduro is still a favourite for the 14 of April presidential elections”.

It is not clear what “restrictions on the press” Barclays refers to. The National Electoral Council has increased the amount of electoral advertising time allowed by television and radio, given the short campaigning time. Television advertisements can last a maximum of four minutes, and radio advertisements five minutes. Official campaigning is allowed from 2 to 11 April.

“Maduro is still the favourite… however his popularity is volatile and relies on the emotional support that Chavez transferred to him,” Barclays stated in its report.

The financial transnational also concluded that the market is assuming Maduro’s victory, and that Venezuela still offers an “interesting asymmetric trade opportunity in the case of a black swan event”. A black swan event is an unexpected event with high impact, and the Barclay’s report says it sees an opposition win in this light.

Andres Izarra, a member of the team heading up the campaign ‘Hugo Chavez’ for Nicolas Maduro, criticised national and international “right wing media” for “ignoring” the poll results. He noted that at the time of speaking, yesterday, of Venezuelan media only newspaper Ultimas Noticias had reported the results.

As of today, newspaper El Universal and news website Noticias24 have also published the results, but TV channel Globovision and conservative paper El Nacional haven’t.

Today, another private, pro-opposition poll company, Hinterlaces also released its poll results. Based on a survey of 1,100 homes around the country, conducted on 16 March, 53% of respondents would vote for Maduro and 35% for Capriles, for a difference of 18 percentage points.

The poll also showed that 61% of Venezuelans think that Maduro will win the elections.

In October last year, Hugo Chavez won the presidential elections with 55.4% of the vote, to 45% by Capriles, with 81% participation. The September poll by Datanalisis gave Chavez a 13% lead.

March 19, 2013 Posted by | Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Media & Opposition: False Perceptions of Venezuela’s Democracy

By Rachael Boothroyd | Correo del Orinoco International | May 25th 2012

Earlier this week Al Jazeera English published an article by Nikolas Kozloff, a former academic turned author who now spends his time writing satire and lambasting the Venezuelan government while hiding behind his Oxford PhD as a veil of objectivity. The focus of Kozloff’s latest article was the Cuban-Venezuelan “Barrio Adentro” initiative, a social mission which provides free healthcare to Venezuela’s poor, and free, community based training for Venezuelan medical students.

Despite the program being one of the government’s most popular, and the fact that it is often cited as an exemplary case of Cuban internationalism and solidarity, in his article Kozloff instead decides to detail the alleged “harrowing” conditions that Cuban doctors are subjected to while treating patients in Venezuela.

According to Kozloff’s article, Cuban medical personnel are overworked, obliged to treat 60- 70 patients a day, constantly spied on, and used by the Venezuelan state for political purposes. The sources of Kozloff’s outlandish statements are none other than leaked documents from the US embassy in Caracas, which, the cables reveal, has been aiding dissident Cuban doctors to apply to the US government for “humanitarian parole” so that they might be transferred to Miami as “asylum seekers”.

According to the documents, 73 Cuban medical personnel were transferred to Miami by 2009. Despite the fact that over 80,000 Cubans have worked in the mission, with 30,000 Cuban medical personnel currently working in Venezuela, Kozloff finds that these 73 Cubans are representative enough of the whole Barrio Adentro mission for him to conclude that the program is “fraying at the edges” in the run-up to this year’s elections.

But questionable e-mails written by staunchly anti-Cuban US diplomats might not be the best sources for judging the merits of a social program which has, by all accounts, dramatically increased Venezuelans’ standards of living. So much so, that despite the vast amounts of propaganda against the healthcare program, the opposition’s candidate, Henrique Capriles Radonski, has been forced to pledge that he will maintain it should he by some miracle win the elections this year.

Kozloff’s selective analysis of the state of the Barrio Adentro program is typical of most “political commentaries” covering the Venezuelan elections in the international press, which are currently contributing to a distorted understanding of Venezuela’s political reality in the run up to the October elections.

Opposition Out of Touch

While most commentators either stress Capriles’ youth (he’s 39) and his energetic campaign, or apparent “indecision” on the part of Venezuelan voters, the reality on the ground is quite different in Venezuela. The opposition have faced defeat after defeat for the past two months.

Not only do nearly all polls in Venezuela give Chavez a 20-30% lead over his opponent, but the Capriles campaign has also made several tactical mistakes. In a move that alienated working class voters in May, Capriles announced that he did not attend the country’s International Workers’ Day march because he was an “employer” and not an employee. His campaign has also been responsible for the persecution and assault of several community media journalists, harking back to the days of repression under previous governments.

In the international arena, in a subtle snub against the Venezuelan opposition coalition, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos stated in an interview that Chavez represented “stability” for the continent that was both essential for regional unity and beneficial for Colombia. Meanwhile US ally and former Colombian president Alvaro Uribe’s vocal support for Capriles has backfired, only serving to reinforce the perception of Capriles as the candidate of US imperialism amongst the Venezuelan public. Just this week, Capriles’ US advisor, Peter Greenberg, also admitted that Chavez’s lead over Capriles was “irreversible”.

These concerns are also being echoed by conservatives inside the country with even rightwing journalists such as Rafael Poleo mourning Capriles’ “hopeless” election campaign and members of the opposition coalition demanding that the campaign be restructured. “Capriles could be out anywhere today, but the rest of the country does not know about it… (his) strategy is not working, his candidacy is not growing, and Chavez’s illness has hyper-personalized electoral debate. People are only talking about Chavez”, explained Oscar Schemel, President of the Hinterlaces polling company.

Throughout this election campaign the opposition’s most serious failure is to have misunderstood the extent to which new mechanisms of participatory democracy have grown in Venezuela. The concept of democracy has taken on new meaning and the working class and organized communities are currently at the helm of an unprecedented experiment with radical new forms of democratic participation. Citizens’ democratic participation is now channelled through communal councils, communes, socialist workers’ councils and cooperatives, which extend the democratic process into their everyday lives and allow them to transform their own socio-cultural surroundings. Venezuelan democracy is no longer reducible to national elections every 6 years, rather it is something constructed every single day.

Following an unsuccessful 12-year battle against Chavez waged on its own terrain, the opposition is now attempting to compete on the Revolution’s terrain and the results are perhaps even less rewarding. The opposition has totally failed to understand just how Venezuela’s political terrain is constantly shifting and continuously being propelled forwards by the country’s new grassroots democratic format.

Just like Kozloff, the Venezuelan opposition continues to look at Venezuela from a distance. Their sources are US diplomats, US political advisors or the Venezuelan elite. From this perspective, Barrio Adentro is merely a political strategy. For Kozloff, it is merely the product of a transient deal with Cuba which can be rolled back should another government take power. For Capriles it is a program he must pledge to maintain in order to have any chance of winning votes.

But for many Venezuelans Barrio Adentro is more than a political strategy and more than a program, it is a social process which has become an integral part of their everyday lives, which has brought dignity, value and identity, and shaped their communities and changed their educational possibilities. These are changes that can’t be perceived from the upper class district of Altamira in Caracas, and much less from a newsroom in New York.

May 26, 2012 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , | Leave a comment