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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

Protests, Disturbances, and Violence Continue in Venezuela, General Strike a “Failure”

Venezuelanalysis | April 16th 2013

Merida –  This afternoon president Maduro said the opposition’s call for a general strike today had “failed”. He also blamed the losing candidate in Sunday’s elections, Henrique Capriles, for the seven deaths last night.

Maduro said last night’s violence was part of a plan “to take Venezuela off the road of democracy”, and called on the people to be peaceful and not “fall for provocations”.

He also declared “the coup d’état defeated”, and inaugurated a health centre in Miranda state. However he said it seemed the “destabilisations will continue”. Though there has been no direct attempt to overthrow the government, some government authorities have referred to the opposition’s refusal to recognise the election results as a “coup” or part of an attempt to bring about a coup.

President of the National Electoral Council (CNE) Tibisay Lucena said yesterday that the electoral system functioned “perfectly” on Sunday. She urged Henrique Capriles, who has not recognised the results, to use legal methods to present his complaints. 54% of the votes were audited on Sunday in the presence of booth witnesses from both political parties, and no problems were found, but opposition protestors are demanding that 100% of the votes be recounted.

Telesur reports that according to CNE norms, the opposition have “twenty [working] days to contest the results, they can do it through the Supreme Court, or the CNE, but they should formalise it, and not do it through the media”.

“Majority is majority, and should be respected under a democracy, they shouldn’t seek ambushes and invent things in order to make popular sovereignty vulnerable… that has just one name, “coup-ism” [golpismo],” Maduro said yesterday.

Monday’s aggressions

Last night seven people were killed as a result of opposition violence; two in Caracas, three in Ojeda, Zulia, one in Cumana, and one person in San Cristobal.

fascismo11-300x300The opposition set fire to 18 Central Diagnostic Centres (CDIs – part of the Barrio Adentro health mission), and 3 subsidised food markets (Mercals). They also attacked the director of the CNE, Tibisay Lucena’s house, and the Telesur and VTV offices.

There are also unconfirmed reports of four attacks on housing mission buildings in Miranda, with seven people killed and ten injured.

The governor of Carabobo state, Francisco Ameliach, reported that 8 CDIs were “besieged” and Cuban doctors were attacked in his state. He said 64 people were detained inside the CDI, and “should go to jail, because we’re not going to tolerate a coup d’état here”.

In Merida, around 700 mostly young opposition students protested outside the CNE, as well as in four other places in the city. Venezuelanalysis.com observed that police presence was light, and most police unarmed.  Many of the students armed themselves with rocks and glass bottles however, as though hoping something would happen. There were similar such protests outside most of the country’s main CNE headquarters.

Many people have posted photos around social networks, claiming they are of the CNE disposing of Sunday’s ballot boxes, though they are in fact of the CNE disposing of 2010 voting boxes, as the law requires. Media like La Patilla and RCTV have also used the photos.

Further, pundit Nelson Bocaranda tweeted that the “CDI in La Paz, Gallo Verde, Maracaibo is hiding some electoral boxes and the Cubans there won’t allow them to be removed”. Opposition television station Globovision has been arguing that “if they don’t want to count the votes, they must have something to hide”.

Capriles called for marches around the country to each state’s head CNE office for today, and for a large march lead by him tomorrow to the headquarters of the CNE in Caracas.

President of the National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello, reported through Twitter that he will propose an investigation to the assembly against Capriles for the acts of violence. Luisa Ortega said the public prosecutor’s office will investigate the seven confirmed deaths.

Further, the suspension of the right to carry arms in place during the election, as is the custom, has been extended to this Saturday 6.00pm, following last night’s violence.

State, municipal, and national police are also confined to barracks until Saturday. Police need permission from  the National Bolivarian Armed Forces strategic operational command to intervene or act on any of the violence taking place.

April 16, 2013 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | Leave a comment

Capriles Attacks Venezuelan Electoral Council, Refuses to Sign Document

Venezuelanalysis | April 9th 2013

Merida – Tonight rightwing candidate Henrique Capriles said that he will not sign a National Electoral Council (CNE) document to guarantee that he would recognise the results of the 14 April presidential elections.

The document, requested by the government and written by the CNE, called ‘Commitment with Democracy’ was signed by pro-Chavez candidate Nicolas Maduro, as well three other candidates. Candidate Reina Sequera didn’t sign the document today because she wasn’t in Caracas. A similar document was signed by all candidates, including Capriles, for the 7 October presidential elections in July last year.

Instead, a representative for Capriles’ campaign, Carlos Vecchio, handed in a different document signed by Capriles, where he committed to “respect the popular will” but demanded that the interim president Nicolas Maduro “cease his abuse of the use of public resources to promote his candidature”.

In the document he also accused Maduro of “intimidating public servants” and “taking advantage of the needs of the poor… in order to bribe them with the delivery, or not, of social missions, and in that way, obtain their votes”.

He called the CNE “negligent” and warned that “we will be vigilant before…any alteration that is attempted on the electoral results”. Further he suggested that the electoral power is biased towards the government.

The move by Capriles follows weeks of  opposition and private Venezuelan media attacks on the CNE, as well as a small protest in Caracas calling for “fairness and transparency” in the elections.

US Assistant Secretary of State, Roberta Jackson, also said last month that it would be “difficult” to have “open, fair and transparent elections” in Venezuela.

Maduro signed the CNE document while at a workers’ rally, saying, “I’m going to sign it in name of peace for the country, and respect for the people. This signature is worth my own life. I’ll respect the results that the people decide on 14 April. I swear it before God, I swear it before the people, and I swear it on the memory of Hugo Chavez”.

The CNE completed its auditing process today, where all aspects related to the voting act were verified. Assessors from the Central University of Venezuela, technical experts from all candidates’ campaign teams, and the electoral mission of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) were all present.

CNE president Tibisay Lucena announced that the electoral system is “safe and ironclad” and said the council had not found the irregularity denounced by the opposition serious, where a member of the governing United Socialist Party allegedly had the code to the electoral machines.

“The code is a general one, not only do the CNE technicians know it, but also over 90 contracted personnel… that is, it is not a code that implies infringement of electoral security”.

She also highlighted that participation in elections has grown progressively in Venezuela, which “is proof of the enormous credibility of the [electoral] organism”. 81% of registered voters voted last October.

46,000 voting machines are being sent to voting centres such as schools, which as of Wednesday will be closed and protected by soldiers as part of the Republic Plan. 80,000 CNE assistants have been trained to operate the machines.

April 10, 2013 Posted by | Deception | , , | Leave a comment

Maduro Counters Campaign to Discredit Venezuelan Electoral System

By Ewan Robertson | Venezuelanalysis | March 25th 2013

Mérida – The presidential candidate of the Bolivarian Revolution, Nicolas Maduro, yesterday counter-attacked the opposition’s campaign to discredit Venezuela’s electoral system ahead of the 14 April presidential election.

In recent days the Venezuelan opposition and allied media have been criticising the 14 April presidential election as not being held in “fair and transparent” conditions, in an apparent effort to discredit the Venezuelan electoral system ahead of the vote.

This campaign appears to have intensified following comments made on Friday 15 March by the US’s Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson, who said that it would be “a little difficult” for “open, fair, and transparent elections” to be held on 14 April.

The conservative opposition has also attempted to reach out to international opinion, with Diego Arria, a former Venezuelan diplomat, writing in the Huffington Post that Venezuela’s National Electoral Council (CNE) is “no more than a tool of the regime [sic: Venezuelan government] to maintain its power”.

This discourse marks a break with the opposition’s more conciliatory approach toward Venezuela’s electoral system last year, when the opposition MUD coalition asked the CNE to organise the opposition’s own internal elections, calling the CNE “an excellent example of democratic institutions in the country”.

Polling evidence suggests that the opposition is likely to lose the April election, called after the death of President Hugo Chavez on 5 March. Four polls released by private Venezuelan firms in recent days have given Nicolas Maduro an advantage over the opposition’s candidate Henrique Capriles of between 14 and 22%.

Yesterday, Nicolas Maduro, who is currently interim president, hit back at the opposition’s campaign to discredit the CNE, claiming that it was a strategy being used in light of the opposition’s “clear defeat” on 14 April.

Maduro repeated the claims of other pro-government figures, stating that the “ultra-right wing” within the opposition is also considering the withdrawal of Capriles’ candidacy “as a way of fleeing and then crying out [to the international community]”.

He further argued that his rival Capriles is caught between the opposition’s radical wing, who want to withdraw from the race in order to discredit the election, and the “apparently democratic” wing that wants to maintain an electoral strategy.

The interim president said the Venezuelan electoral system, “guarantees the sovereign decision of the voters” and that the campaign to discredit the CNE “will not favour” the opposition.

Directly addressing the opposition, Maduro said, “If you stay [in the electoral race]; welcome. We’re headed towards a great triumph, that’s how I feel. If you go, not so welcome. We will [still] have a great victory and we’ll maintain the political stability of the country; of that you can be sure”.

The difference in opinion within the opposition toward the electoral system has also become apparent in recent comments made to media.

Hard-line opposition legislator Maria Corina Machado called the Venezuelan government a “neo-dictatorial regime” with a “democratic façade” in an interview yesterday with conservative paper El Universal. She further said the CNE was full of “tricks and irregularities”.

Meanwhile, the president of opposition party COPEI, Roberto Enríquez, said in an interview today that the opposition “recognises” the accuracy of the Venezuelan electoral system.

However, he added, “Elections in Venezuela, like in all democratic systems, are and have to be perfectible”.

UNASUR

Today the CNE signed an agreement with the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) confirming that UNASUR will send an electoral accompaniment mission to Venezuela ahead of the 14 April election.

The mission’s aim, according to the head of UNASUR’s electoral council, Francisco Távara Córdova, is “to witness the electoral process within the framework of solidarity, cooperation and respect for sovereignty, with the aim of generating shared knowledge and experience in electoral matters”.

The mission’s head will likely be Argentine Carlos Alvarez, who led the UNASUR electoral mission to Venezuela for the October 2012 presidential election.

Several Venezuelan electoral NGO’s have also been invited by the CNE to observe the upcoming election.

March 26, 2013 Posted by | Deception | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Opposition Intensifies Campaign against Venezuelan Electoral System

By Ewan Robertson | Venezuelanalysis | March 22, 2012

Mérida  – Police, pro-government and opposition students clashed on the streets of Caracas yesterday amid a growing opposition campaign against Venezuela’s National Electoral Council (CNE).

The CNE is currently preparing for the April 14 presidential election, following the death of late President Hugo Chavez on  March 5. Polls suggest that the candidate representing the Bolivarian revolution, Nicolas Maduro, is set to win the election handily against opposition rival Henrique Capriles.

In recent days opposition media and politicians have stepped up a campaign of criticism against the CNE and its president, Tibisay Lucena, alleging that the upcoming election will not be held under “fair” conditions.

Yesterday, opposition students presented CNE officials with a list of demands for a “transparent and fair” election. These included scrapping Venezuela’s automated SAE voting system, eliminating the use of fingerprints in the voting process, and ending the involvement of civilian militias in the election-day public security operation.

According to pro-government newspaper Ciudad CCS, the students were prevented by national police from reaching the CNE’s headquarters due to their violent behaviour. Meanwhile, pro-government students held a counter-protest on the other side of police lines.

The paper reports that opposition students threw stones and flammable devices, before trying a “charge” through police lines, which was contained. According to Venezuelan media, four protestors were injured.

However, conflicting versions have emerged of the day, with private media reporting that the opposition students were “ambushed” by the pro-government demonstrators, with police then intervening to keep the two groups apart.

Also yesterday, representatives of Henrique Capriles’ campaign met with CNE officials to discuss thirteen proposals the opposition argues are necessary for a “fair” presidential election. Four of these proposals were accepted by the CNE.

Opposition spokesperson, Carlos Vecchio, said that the deal was “not enough” for the presidential election to be “fair and transparent”. The CNE has since agreed to further study the remaining proposals.

The criticisms of the CNE build upon previous declarations by opposition candidate Henrique Capriles, who accused the CNE’s president, Tibisay Lucena, of being favourable to the government.  “We’re not being herded anywhere,” he warned her in relation to CNE rules on presidential candidate registrations.

Further, on Tuesday conservative daily El Nacional published a stinging editorial on Lucena titled “Lady Liar”, in which the CNE head was branded as “foolish” and “absent minded,” while public attention was drawn to her state of health.

The editorial, written by far-right journalist Miguel Henrique Otero, also called the CNE “a team chosen and armed by power [the government] to ambush the voter at every bend in the road”.

The opposition’s discourse toward the CNE in recent weeks is similar to comments made last Friday  by the US’s Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson, who said that it would be “a little difficult” for “open, fair, and transparent elections” to be held on April 14.

The comments from the opposition, in particular El Nacional’s editorial, have generated anger and condemnation by pro-government and more moderate circles of opinion.

Top CNE official Vicente Diaz, considered to be favourable to the opposition, called El Nacional’s editorial “deplorable and inconsiderate”.

During the presidential election last October the CNE received glowing praise from international electoral observation groups.

Former US president Jimmy Carter, head of the Carter Centre NGO, commented at the time, “Of the 92 elections that we’ve monitored, I would say the election process in Venezuela is the best in the world”.

He also praised Venezuela’s automated SAE voting system, which utilises manual and electronic security checks to prevent fraudulent voting.

Meanwhile, the electoral observation mission from the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) strongly endorsed Venezuela’s electoral system after the  October 7 vote.

“Venezuela has given an exemplary demonstration of what the functioning of democracy is and has taught a lesson to the world, and this is important,” said the mission’s head, Argentine Carlos Alvarez.

Regarding the opposition’s recent criticisms of the CNE and Venezuela’s electoral system, pro-government media expert Oscar Lloreda claimed that this formed part of the opposition’s strategy due to the unlikelihood of them winning on April 14.

Speaking on Latin American news channel Telesur, he argued, “They [the opposition] are calling on people to vote, but on the other hand they’re creating the conditions to not recognise the results in the case of a defeat”.

March 23, 2013 Posted by | Deception | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Venezuelan Electoral Authority Rejects U.S. Government Statements

Telesur –  March 19, 2013

Tibisay Lucena, the president of Venezuela’s National Electoral Council (CNE) rejected statements on Sunday by U.S. State Department Assistant Secretary for Latin America Roberta Jacobson, who said it would be “a little difficult” for Venezuela to have “clean and transparent elections,” next month on April 14.

“We roundly reject the naïve statements of Ms. Roberta Jacobson, for their meddling and disrespectful content,” Lucena said during a speech at the CNE headquarters in Caracas, Venezuela. “Jacobson said that the elections in Venezuela should be free and fair, causing some to believe that Venezuelan elections do not comply with the basic conditions, when our electoral system has been recognized nationally and internationally, both by voters at home and abroad by experts like former President Jimmy Carter, who said that ‘Venezuela has the best electoral system in the world,’” she said.

Lucena called the statements imprudent, “especially when they come from the United States, a country with a fragile and unsafe electoral system that increasingly excludes minorities and low-income sectors.”

She said that Venezuela has an electoral system that guarantees the sovereign decision of voters “and while we audit 54% of the electoral booths at the end of the day, in the United States the results aren’t audited. For a long time, citizens’ groups have been fighting to be allowed to audit three to five percent of the booths after voting.”

She said that Venezuela’s fully automated electoral system, “more than just a technological platform, is the instrument of the expression of all our people.”

Lucena also announced Sunday that tests have already been carried out on the electoral platform ahead of the April 14 presidential vote “and we can guarantee that the machinery is working properly.”

“We guarantee trustworthy, transparent results and the integrity of the Venezuelan electoral system,” she said.

During the testing of the voting equipment, Lucena added, electoral accompaniers were present from the Inter-American Union of Electoral Bodies (UNIORE) and the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR).

The CNE announced the date of the upcoming elections on March 9, and began accepting candidacies the next day. Campaigning will occur from April 2 to 11 at midnight.

March 20, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | Leave a comment