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Eight Logic Defying Ways Venezuela’s Violent Opposition Is Hopelessly Hypocritical

By Ryan Mallett-Outtrim | Venezuelanalysis | March 20, 2014

Venezuela’s opposition is sending a few mixed messages about violence and freedom. Unlike the moderate opposition (which is laden with its own hypocrisies), the extremist opposition groups are a minority within the wider anti-Maduro movement. Despite an overwhelming majority of the population opposing their violence, the barricaders and other aggressive opposition elements somehow maintain the support of much of the private press, and established opposition parties. They draw sympathy from human rights organisations like Human Rights Watch, which pretends the violent opposition aren’t armed. The State Department likewise appears to have nothing less than unconditional support for violent opposition groups.

It’s hard to believe the opposition protesters oppose violence when they start shooting at people on the street. They want a free media, but they try to lynch journalists. They demand to be let into the political process, but refuse to join peace talks, while exacerbating the scarcity they’re protesting against.

Of the many imaginative ways the opposition has proved itself hopelessly hypocritical, here are the top eight shameless contradictions.

1. Protests against scarcity by blocking supplies

The opposition doesn’t seem to have figured out that there is a very close correlation between the number of delivery trucks they torch, and the number of deliveries that aren’t made.

Just a few hours before writing this article, I passed one such torched truck in Merida, near one of the city’s largest supermarkets. There was a banner hanging off the burned skeleton of the vehicle, with a complaint about food scarcity. Anyone who things it makes sense to protest food scarcity after destroying a delivery truck outside a supermarket probably needs to spend some time in a quiet corner contemplating the dictionary definition of cogent.

Meanwhile in reality, scarcity levels remain high in Venezuela, with many basic consumer products ranging from flour to milk being difficult to reliably obtain. Unsurprisingly, however, blocking roads only makes a bad situation worse. In the opposition stronghold of Merida, even cooking gas deliveries became intermittent in February, as the city’s main thoroughfares are semi-permanently blocked by opposition groups.

2. Protests violence…with more violence

Occasionally, barricades are adorned with posters demanding “no más violencia”. Venezuela is one of the most violent countries in the hemisphere, so it’s no surprise security is a major issue in public discourse. But smashing over US$1 million in public property isn’t exactly a sure-fire way to make people feel safer. Nor is hanging barbed wire over roads to decapitate motorcyclists. In fact, now that there are groups of masked opposition thugs wandering around with guns, explosives and traps like home-made caltrops, it’s harder than ever to feel safe. The MUD has set a reduction in crime as a precondition for peace talks – something which might be difficult to achieve while their supporters keep shooting at people in the streets.

3. Defending media freedom by attacking journalists

Despite the fact that the majority of Venezuela’s media remains privately owned and anti-government in terms of editorial lines, one of the opposition’s favourite complaints is that they have no voice in the mass media. Henrique Capriles himself cited a lack of access to media as his reason for creating his humbly titled online show, CaprilesTV. On 4 March, the opposition held a march demanding “greater media freedom”. The next day, they attacked three journalists from private media outlets. It takes something really special to claim you defend journalists one day, and beat one with a lead pipe the next.

Unfortunately, that’s just the tip of this self-satirising iceberg. The opposition groups have repeatedly lashed out at the media. The majority of attacks have targeted public media outlets such as VTV, which was under a semi-permanent state of siege throughout February 2014. Community media outlets have been vandalised, and Venezuelanalysis journalists have also been attacked. One VA writer had rocks thrown at him when he tried to approach a group, while another was held at gunpoint after she photographed a group attacking public transport.

4. Wants to be listened to, but doesn’t want to listen

The opposition has justified going to the streets by claiming they have been largely ignored by the government. Yet when the Maduro actually invites them to attend peace talks, they boycott them. Perhaps it’s not Maduro that’s doing the ignoring.

5. Opposes the killing of peaceful protesters…by killing more peaceful protesters

Attend any opposition rally and it isn’t hard to find someone out to slam the government for the deaths of opposition protesters. Every death is indeed a tragedy, unless they can’t be martyred. Trying to find anyone at an opposition rally condemning the shooting of Gisela Rubilar isn’t easy. To be fair, though, I have seen one person with a placard condemning her death; but they had the wrong face glued on. Moreover, they didn’t seem interested in entertaining the idea that the opposition group that had fired at people clearing barricades in the area the night before may have been involved in Rubilar’s shooting.

6. Opposes corruption by demanding bribes

One of the opposition’s most salient complaints of the Venezuelan government is its failure to deal with corruption. It’s a reasonable criticism, given that Venezuela scores an abysmal 20/100 in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index. However, the opposition hasn’t exactly shown itself to be anything near a credible alternative. Opposition groups are increasingly demanding tolls for anyone to pass their barricades. People who feel emotions generally refer to these tolls as bribes.

Worse still, the opposition’s organisational structure is murkier than a bowl of mondongo on Monday afternoon. Their nationwide campaign of violence is well organised, with logistical support and at least hundreds of people coordinating across the country. However, nobody seems to know who is running barricades, and how. They clearly receive some funding, but nobody knows from where. Corruption festers where there is a lack of democracy and public criticism – and the opposition on the street is open to neither.

7. Calls Maduro a dictator, while acting like a dictatorship

Since February the opposition protests have defined life in Merida. Checking where they are attacking people has become as habitual as watching the weather forecast. It’s hard to believe opposition groups really oppose authoritarianism when they force you to pay tolls to pass their barricades, decide where you can to walk, decide when you can turn your light on in your own home, decide if supplies can reach your neighbourhood and decide you when you’re able to go to work. While the protests were at their worst, businesses figured out that the barricaders like to sleep in; so they started opening in the mornings, and closing before lunchtime. In other words, shops were forced to change their opening hours to suit the sleep patterns of these thugs. If everyone wasn’t being forced to change their routines to accommodate the whims of the barricaders, maybe their claims that they support freedom would carry some weight.

8. Complains Chavismo has ruined Venezuela…demands US intervention

Anyone who signs this petition needs to have a long conversation with someone from Iraq or Afghanistan. Simple.

March 20, 2014 Posted by | Deception | , , , , | Leave a comment

Death Toll in Venezuela Clashes Rises to Ten

By Ewan Robertson | Venezuelanalysis | February 21, 2014

Mérida – According to authorities and press reports a total of ten people have now died in connection with violent protests in Venezuela. The government and the opposition blame each other for the situation.

Summary of the deaths

Of the ten deaths recorded in connection with the violence so far, five occurred in the Caracas area. Three of these deaths resulted from violent clashes on 12 February between opposition activists, security forces and in a few cases, Chavistas. A Venezuelan intelligence service officer has been arrested in connection with one of the deaths. Authorities report that investigations into the events are “almost complete” and the results will be presented to the country soon.

On Tuesday Genesis Carmona, a student and former beauty queen, was shot during an opposition march in Valencia. According to national newspaper Ultimas Noticias, witnesses said an armed pro-government group attacked the march. However authorities say ballistic investigations show the woman was shot from behind “from within opposition ranks”, and claim that witnesses on the scene have confirmed this.

Five of the deaths occurred on the barricades that hard-line opposition supporters have erected in several Venezuelan cities to block the flow of traffic and pressure President Nicolas Maduro’s resignation.

On Tuesday a 17 year old student was run over by a car while trying to block a road as part of protests. The man accused of running him over has been arrested.

Meanwhile on Wednesday a public attorney, Julio Eduardo González, died when he crashed his car trying to drive around a barricade in Valencia. Yesterday a woman, Delia Elena Lobo, died after crashing her motorbike into a barbed wire street barricade in Mérida.

The ninth to die is Arturo Alexis Martinez, the brother of a socialist party parliamentary deputy, Francisco Martínez. He was shot dead in Barquisimeto while trying to clear away the burning remains of an opposition road barricade. An investigation has been launched into the incident.

A tenth person was confirmed dead this evening. Elvis Rafael Durán died in the Sucre municipality of Caracas after riding his motorbike into an unseen barbed wire barricade.

Venezuelan press initially reported a another death following a shooting attack against a pro-government “march for peace” in Bolivar state on Wednesday, in which industrial workers from the region participated. However it later resulted that the worker in question had not died, but was seriously wounded. Nine were wounded in the incident, and sixteen have been arrested. A video taken of the shooting appears to show hooded figures firing at the march from a nearby building.

Attorney General Luisa Ortega Díaz said today that a total of 137 people have been wounded as a result of the violence, of which 37 are members of security forces and 100 are civilians. Twenty-four people are currently being held by authorities to be charged for specific “violent acts”.

Venezuela has experienced a wave of opposition protests over the past few weeks. The demonstrations, led by pro-opposition students, began after hard-line opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez called on supporters to go onto the streets and seek the “exit” of President Nicolas Maduro. Demonstrators also mention food shortages, crime and corruption as reasons for discontent.

While many protests have been peaceful, others have descended into violent clashes with security forces, and on occasion, Chavistas. Meanwhile a violent element within the opposition has embarked on a strategy of burning street barricades, rioting and attacking property and civilians.

On Tuesday Lopez handed himself in to authorities, to be charged with incitement of criminal acts, among other offenses.

Debating responsibility

The government squarely blames the right-wing opposition for causing the violence, and accuses them of trying to create the conditions for a “state coup”.

“Venezuela is victim of an attack by the extreme-right to destabilise us, to take us into civil war,” said Maduro tonight. The president also alleged that the opposition has paid youths from “criminal gangs” to participate in the violent street actions.

However the opposition says the violence is being perpetrated by security forces and pro-government “paramilitaries”.

“State security forces, accompanied by paramilitary groups, have cruelly attacked peaceful and defenceless protesters…leaving a lamentable tally of citizens assassinated, seriously wounded, tortured and disappeared,” claimed the opposition’s Democratic Unity Table (MUD) coalition in a statement today.

President Maduro repeated his stance tonight that armed opposition groups, armed pro-government groups, and state security forces that fire weapons during protests will not be tolerated. “I won’t protect anyone in this country who fires during protests,” he said.

Maduro appeared to refer to an incident on 12 February in Caracas, with video evidence suggesting that several intelligence service (SEBIN) officers fired at a group of opposition protesters. All SEBIN officers were under presidential orders to remain indoors that day.

“I asked that no one go out onto the street, less so with guns. And they went out with guns. Ah, it looks a lot like the format of the state coup [of April 2002]. I’m investigating all of this, and if elements [of an inside plot] appeared I’d say it to my country…that there are plotters inside the government or that an officer has been bought. I’d say it with all of the willpower I have,” he stated.

The president also mentioned an audio recording, allegedly of a conversation between two opposition figures, which suggested that a plot was in place to create a “massacre” on 12 February.

The recording is claimed to be of a conversation on 11 February between former Venezuelan ambassador to Colombia, Fernando Gerbasi, and the head of the presidential guard during the Carlos Andres Perez presidency, Iván Carratú Molina. In the audio, the voice that is claimed to be Gerbasi, is heard saying, “Look, they inform me that [there will be] something very similar to 11 April [2002]…tomorrow”.

In light of the situation in the country, the government has repeated that it supports “social peace” and that it is open to “dialogue” with the opposition.

Opposition leader Henrique Capriles today accused the government of “manufacturing another 11 April”, and demanded “proof” of an opposition coup plot. He also argued for opposition protests to have greater “orientation”, criticising the “exit” strategy as being an “alleyway without an exit”.

CNN warning

There is fresh controversy over media reporting in Venezuela after President Maduro argued that CNN is trying to “justify a civil war in Venezuela for a military intervention”.

Saying that the channel’s reporting represents “war propaganda”, he warned that CNN would be prohibited from transmitting in Venezuela if it didn’t “rectify”.

“Twenty-four hours a day their programming is about war. They want to show the world there’s a civil war in Venezuela,” he said last night.

CNN has since confirmed that seven of its reporters have had their press accreditation removed.

“CNN has reported both sides of the tense situation in Venezuela, even with very limited access to government officials. We hope the government will reconsider its decision [to revoke the credentials]. Meanwhile, we will continue reporting on Venezuela in the fair, accurate and balanced manner that we are known for,” said CNN Español in a statement.

Maduro’s warning comes after the government removed Colombian channel NTN24 from Venezuelan cable services on 12 February, accusing it’s manner of covering the violent events as promoting “ a state coup like April 2002”. The channel said the move was an attack on freedom of expression.

Maduro has been a fierce critic of international media coverage of Venezuela during the on-going protests. “In the world, we’re confronting the most brutal manipulation [of information] that the Bolivarian revolution has faced since the state coup of 2002,” he said tonight.

February 22, 2014 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | Leave a comment

Most Venezuelans have a blind spot on their own country according to James Bloodworth

By Joe Emersberger | ZBlogs | February 20, 2014

James Bloodworth, when he isn’t applauding Obama’s murderous drone attacks on Pakistan, occasionally takes time out to complain about leftists supporting the Venezuelan government. He claims that Venezuela has become a “nightmare” and that, despite elections that he appears to acknowledge are clean and transparent, Venezuelans are, nevertheless, “living under tyranny” because of the government’s “unwillingness to tolerate dissent”.

Bloodworth says that he supported the Chavista movement when a US backed coup violently ousted Hugo Chavez in 2002. “I have no trouble remembering which side I was on” he claims – very dubiously as I’ll explain.

Bloodworth doesn’t remember that Leopoldo Lopez was among the leaders of that coup. This video shows Leopoldo Lopez and Henrique Capriles (a state governor who ran against Maduro in April of 2013) supervising the illegal “arrest” of a Chavez government minister during the 2002 coup.  Bloodworth objects to Lopez’s arrest for leading protests over the past few weeks that are clearly aimed at repeating what happened in 2002, but Bloodworth never considers an incredibly obvious point. Lopez would have been locked up for decades (if he were lucky) had he participated in the violent overthrow of the UK or US governments.  If not for the Venezuelan government’s unusually high tolerance for dissent, Lopez and Capriles (his “moderate” ally) would never have been around to lead protests, much less hold public office as Capriles now does.   One can only shudder at what their fate would have been in the USA after participating in a briefly successful coup. Chelsea Manning has been locked up for years and openly tortured simply for exposing human rights abuses and embarrassing the US government. Manning will not be leading violent protests or holding public office (even if she wanted to) any time soon.

Bloodworth also forgets (or more likely doesn’t know or care) that Human Rights Watch (HRW) utterly disgraced itself during the 2002 coup. He takes HRW assessments of Venezuela at face value but does not recall that during the 2002 coup HRW failed to denounce the coup, failed to call on other countries not to recognize the Carmona dictatorship, failed to invoke the OAS charter, and did not call for an investigation of US involvement.  Thankfully, most governments in the region denounced the 2002 coup at once, exactly as HRW would have done had it not been penetrated by US State Department officials and other elites as Keane Bhatt recently noted.

Bloodworth’s effort to dismiss the Venezuelan government’s record on poverty alleviation is pitifully inept.  He considers only the 2007-2011 period to argue that Venezuela’s record is unimpressive compared to Brazil, Uruguay and Peru. Does he not recall that Hugo Chavez first took office in 1999? Could somebody who claims to have opposed the 2002 coup be that ignorant? The United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLAC) found that from “1999 to 2010 Venezuela achieved the second highest rate of poverty reduction”.   Extreme poverty fell by 70% during Hugo Chavez’s time in office.  The 2002 coup and related efforts to overthrow the Chavez government severely disrupted progress for about 2 years or the economic gains might have been even better.  Bloodworth might know this if he had actually opposed the 2002 coup as he claims he did.

Predictably, Bloodworth promotes the most cherished dogma of Venezuelan government opponents over the past 15 years:  the myth of the voiceless opposition. The Carter Commission exploded this myth very effectively last year – without really trying to and in very polite language. It examined TV news media during crucial weeks of the April, 2013 Presidential election that pitted Henrique Capriles against Nicolas Maduro. It found a 57% to 34% edge in coverage for Maduro over Capriles by simply totaling minutes of coverage on the major networks. That finding alone refutes the myth of the voiceless opposition but it gets worse for people who peddle this myth. Three quarters of Capriles’ coverage was in the private news media which (the Carter Commission found) had nearly three times the audience share (72% to 24%) of the state news media where Maduro received most of his coverage.

Bloodworth has nothing to say about Maduro government opponents spreading falsified images of the protests through social media – a tactic they could rely on the private media to deploy on a massive scale in 2002. The most anti-democratic faction of the opposition claims that media coverage of their protests is now inadequate and that is enough for Bloodworth to completely agree.  Similarly, one of the sources Bloodworth uncritically cites about Venezuela’s economy is Moisés Naím, one of the architects of the brutal austerity polices of the early 1990s that ultimately led to the Caracazo uprisings in which up to 3000 people were murdered by Venezuela’s security forces. Does Bloodworth not know this about Naím, or just not care?

In order to claim that violent deaths are more numerous in Venezuela than Iraq, Bloodworth  ignores peer reviewed scientific studies (published in 2006, 2008 and 2013) showing that anywhere from one half to only one twelfth of violent deaths are captured in Iraq by standard data collection methods. He also appears oblivious to scholarly research suggesting that Venezuela’s murder rate may have been falling since 2008.

Perhaps worst of all, Bloodworth completely ignores the decisive defeat the opposition received in December’s municipal elections which the opposition worked very hard to frame as a referendum on Maduro’s government. The results were easy to understand if one looks beyond the reactionary talking points about Venezuela’s economy that Bloodworth mindlessly parrots. The economy has not gone into recession since Maduro was elected despite the spike in inflation. Moreover inflation is not a direct measure of living standards. Many of the poorest countries in the world have very low levels of inflation (Mali, Rwanda, Chad among others).

Additionally, despite serious economic problems in 2013 poverty fell from 21.6 to 19.6%, extreme poverty from 6.3 to 5.5%, unemployment from 5.9% to 5.6%

It is not really foreign supporters of Maduro’s government whom Bloodworth attempts to dismiss, it is the majority of Venezuelan voters.

February 22, 2014 Posted by | Deception | , , , | Leave a comment

Latest Human Rights Watch Report: 30 Lies about Venezuela

By Tamara Pearson | Venezuelanalysis | January 23, 2014

In the six pages that HRW dedicates to Venezuela in its World Report 2014, released this week, it manages to tell at least 30 serious lies, distortions, and omissions. Pointing out these lies is important, because many people believe that HRW is a neutral authority on human rights, and the mainstream press publish articles and headlines based on HRW report conclusions. Here are some of the headlines in both English and Spanish (translated to English) that have come out of the 2014 report:

Global Post – Venezuela intimidates opponents, media: HRW report , PanAm Post – Human Rights Watch: A black eye for Latin America , AFP – HRW criticises Venezuela in its annual report on human rights, El Economista – HRW: Democracy in Venezuela is fictitious, El Universal – Human Rights Watch report denounces persecution of media in Venezuela, El Siglo – Human Rights Watch: Venezuela is an example of “fictitious democracies”, El Colombiano: HRW describes Venezuela as a fictitious democracy , NTN24 – HRW warns that Venezuelan government applies “arbitrary” measures against media that is critical of its policies

The headlines which talk about a “fictitious” or “feigned” democracy, are referring to the start of the report, where HRW put Venezuela, along with other countries, under the category of “abusive majoritarianism”. There, HRW provides a very limited definition of democracy; “periodic elections, the rule of law, and respect for the human rights of all” and argues that Venezuela has adopted “the form but not the substance of democracy”. HRW cites Diosdado Cabello not letting legislators who didn’t recognise democratically elected President Maduro speak in parliament – yet the punishment seems soft, considering the crime.

Below, I’ve grouped the lies and omissions according to HRW’s own subheadings in its chapter on Venezuela. Unlike with other countries such as the US, HRW omits all of Venezuela’s human rights achievements in its assessment, and in reality a range of other subheadings would be deserving, such has right to have access to housing, people’s right to be consulted about policy, right of the poorer people to be heard in the media, right to education, the right to health care, to land, and so on. Of course, nowhere in the report does HRW mention the economic crimes committed by the business sector against Venezuelans’ right to access affordable goods (hoarding, speculation, etc).

15 lies and distortions

Introduction

1. “The Supreme Court and the National Electoral Council rejected appeals filed by the opposition candidate, Henrique Capriles Radonski, challenging the results [of the April 2013 presidential elections]”. – The CNE did meet with the opposition and they came to an agreement to do a manual recount of the remaining 46% of votes which hadn’t already been revised on the day of the election. The entire recount was televised live. Given how incredibly flimsy Capriles’ “evidence” was, the Supreme Court would have been ridiculing itself to do anything but reject his case.

2. “Under the leadership of President Chavez and now President Maduro, the accumulation of power in the executive branch and the erosion of human rights guarantees have enabled the government to intimidate, censor, and prosecute its critics.” – HRW offers very little evidence to substantiate such accusations. The reality is the opposite; private media makes up the vast majority of the media, and freely criticises the government on a daily basis, to the point where it invents news and blames the national government for things it isn’t even responsible for. Just last week here in Merida a few opposition students held a protest by burning tires on a main road. For a week, traffic to a key hospital was blocked, and the students had no placards stating the reason for their protest. The police closed off the roads around them to protect their right to protest.

3. “In September 2013, the Venezuelan government’s decision to withdraw from the American Convention on Human Rights took effect, leaving Venezuelans without access to the Inter-American Court on Human Rights, an international tribunal that has protected their rights for decades in a wide array of cases.” – The IACHR has not protected Venezuelans’ rights. From 1969-1998, a repressive period of disappearances, political repression, and massacres such as those at Cantaura, Yumare, and the Caracazo, it only considered six cases, and of those only one was brought to the commission. In contrast, from 1999 to 2011 it ruled on and processed a total of 23 cases. It did not take any action after the coup attempt against democratically elected president Hugo Chavez in 2002.

Post-Election Violence

4. “Security forces used excessive force and arbitrary detentions to disperse anti-government demonstrations after the April elections, according to local groups”. -Though it may have varied from region to region, unlike HRW, I was at those protests, and took photos of and interviewed opposition protesters in Merida – one of their strongholds. Despite threatening to take over and destroy the CNE and the PSUV head offices, with large piles of projectiles like rocks and shrapnel and Molotov cocktails, the police merely cordoned off those areas. They were not armed, and there were no injuries or arrests observed. The threats were not empty ones either, as seen by other destruction carried out by the opposition around the country. HRW also needs to specify what it means by “security forces”, as the police system here is complicated and most police continue to be managed at a state level, but HRW implies that the national government is entirely responsible. Finally, merely attributing these claims to “local groups” is very vague. One might also say, HRW is a capitalist front, said local groups.

5. “Official sources reported that nine individuals were killed at the time, although the circumstances in which the deaths occurred remain unclear. President Maduro and other high level officials have used the threat of criminal investigations as a political tool, attributing responsibility for all acts of violence during demonstrations to Capriles”. – Does HRW want an investigation or not? The violence occurred the day after the presidential elections, and all of the victims and buildings destroyed were Chavista supporters or part of national programs. It was clearly political, why is it a problem to mention that, and why does it become a “threat” when Maduro talks about bringing murderers and those who set fire to public hospitals, to justice? A thorough investigation was conducted, and those who were responsible for the deaths were arrested.

Judicial Independence

6. “The judiciary has largely ceased to function as an independent branch of government”. – While it is true that there are serious problems in Venezuela’s court system: HRW doesn’t mention those: the delays and corruption. Instead, it argued the judiciary is not “independent” because it doesn’t always rule against the government, as HRW would like. If it is not independent, why were almost a hundred supposedly pro government workers in SAIME, SENIAT, the China-Venezuela bank, and so on, arrested last year for corruption?

Freedom of Media

7. “Over the past decade, the government has expanded and abused its powers to regulate the media… fear of government reprisals has made self-censorship a problem” – No it hasn’t. What the government has done, over the last four years or so, is pass legislation which limits media abuse: racism, extreme violence, and sensationalism that is so extreme it can be psychologically damaging. Those regulations apply equally to the private, public, and community media, but the reality is it is the private media which tends to be most abusive. Nevertheless, Conatel has emitted less than 10 fines over the last few years.

8. “The government has taken aggressive steps to reduce the availability of media outlets that engage in critical programming.” – HRW is not able to cite any examples to back up this statement. Instead, it refers to one case from years ago, RCTV, who’s license was not renewed after it played an active role in the 2002 coup.

9. “In April 2013, Globovision was sold to government supporters… since then it has significantly reduced its critical programming”. The owners of Globovision sold it to a group of Venezuelan investors headed by businessman Juan Domingo Cordero, who is not a government supporter. Since then, Globovision’s coverage is somewhat less extreme and sensationalist, but it is just as critical.

10. “The government has also targeted other media outlets for arbitrary sanction and censorship”. – The government has not censored any media. Today alone, for example, Tal Cual freely published these headlines: “The fiscal report is a time bomb”, “The government uses violence as an excuse to censor the media” , “Dance with death” (to refer to the government) and “The government tragicomedy”. El Nacional received a fine in August last year for using a three year old photo of naked corpses on its front cover, and that is it.

Human Rights Defenders

11. “The Venezuelan government has sought to marginalise the country’s human rights defenders by repeatedly accusing them of seeking to undermine Venezuelan democracy with the support of the US government”. – The lie here is “the country’s human rights defenders”. HRW is referring to a select few organisations such as itself and other individuals, who use human rights as a front for their right-wing political agenda. The government is completely within its right in pointing that out.

Abuses by Security Forces

This section is somewhat accurate, but lacks any causal analysis.

Prison Conditions

These criticisms are also somewhat legitimate, though the information is selective. For omissions, see below.

Labour Rights

12. “Political discrimination against workers in state institutions remains a problem. In April 2013, Minister of Housing Ricardo Molina called on all ministry personnel who supported the opposition to resign, saying that he would fire anyone who criticised Maduro, Chavez, or the revolution”. Though perhaps a bit extreme, HRW forgets to point out that Molina made that remark in the context of the opposition not recognising a democratically elected president. That there is political discrimination against workers is largely untrue, though may occur in isolated situations. It is no secret that most of the public education and health workers, for example, support the opposition.

13. “The National Electoral Council (CNE), a public authority, continues to play an excessive role in union elections, violating international standards that guarantee workers the right to elect their representatives in full freedom” – Actually, what the CNE provides to unions is logistical support: machinery that makes cross-country elections much easier. If there were concern about the CNE somehow influencing elections, the opposition would not have also used its logistical support for its primaries in February 2012.

Key International Actors

14. “For years, Venezuela’s government has refused to authorise UN human rights experts to conduct fact-finding visits in the country” – That’s why the UNESCO and the FAO have both recently praised Venezuela’s education and food development. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Right’s most recent report on Venezuela was made in September last year, it was about Venezuela’s elimination of racial discrimination.

15. “In June 2013, Venezuela became the pro-tempore president of Mercosur… The Asuncion Protocol…states that “full respect of democratic institutions and the respect of human rights” are essential…By not addressing the absence of an independent judiciary in Venezuela, as well as the government’s efforts to undermine human rights protections, the other Mercosur member states have failed to uphold these commitments” – See previous and subsequent comments on Venezuela’s judiciary and treatment of “human rights” protections.

15 omissions

The following very important facts on Venezuela’s human rights record were completely omitted from the report. Such omissions are as serious as lying.

Post-Election Violence

1. HRW conveniently doesn’t mention that the 15 “health centres” that were “vandalised” (ie they were set on fire on medical equipment was destroyed) were CDIs- Cuban-Venezuelan run free health centres that have come to be a symbol of the Bolivarian revolution. HRW doesn’t mention that opposition supporters attacked them, it lets readers believe that the government supported such violence.

2. HRW doesn’t criticise the extremely undemocratic move by Capriles to not recognise the president whom the majority of voters chose in the April presidential elections. Their omission to do so amounts to tacit support of Capriles. That sort of context is also necessary when HRW criticises the fact that there were arrests following the elections: it’s possible that some arrests were not justified, but given that the Bolivarian revolution has already suffered one (failed) coup, and the continent has suffered many successful and bloody ones, it is reasonable to arrest participants in that. Any other country would do the same.

3. HRW focuses on the post election violence, and blames the national government for it, rather than recognising the opposition’s role. It purposefully omits to mention that while Capriles called for a “venting of rage”, Maduro called on supporters to play music and dance in the street.

Judicial Independence

4. HRW criticises the imprisonment of “government critic” judge Afiuni, but omits to mention that she was arrested for illegally releasing a bank president who stole US$27 million from state currency body, CADIVI. Does HRW advocate such judicial corruption? In June Afiuni was awarded conditional release.

5. There are, however, other cases of court inefficiency and bribery of judges, which HRW completely ignores, perhaps because the victims are mostly Bolivarian revolution supporters. Over the last year, many rural workers, commune members, trade unionists, and indigenous activists were murdered by hired killers, and though the killers are usually easy to identify, few have been arrested and prosecuted.

6. HRW criticises Venezuela for withdrawing from the IACHR, but omits to mention that that court is totally under the thumb of the US. It then hypocritically comments on Venezuela’s so called “lack of judicial independence”.

Freedom of Media

7. While in most countries, people who aren’t rich don’t have the right to run their own media, that right is being promoted in Venezuela, with the state materially and legally supporting over 500 community and alternative radios, television stations, and newspapers. That is an important development in media freedom, but HRW completely ignored it.

8. HRW states that, “In November 2013, the broadcasting authority opened an administrative investigation against eight Internet providers for allowing web sites that published information on unofficial exchange rates”. HRW intentionally omits to point out that those sites were illegally publishing those figures, and that those figures have contributed to the three and four fold price increase of basic products. At no point does HRW criticise the role of business of deliberately making basic food and goods unaffordable for Venezuelans.

9. HRW also doesn’t mention the almost one thousand free internet centres the government has set up, its promotion of freeware, and its distribution of laptops to school children: part of the government’s efforts to make the right to information a reality.

Human Rights Defenders

10. HRW criticises the government for supposedly “marginalising” “human rights defenders” by investigating their sources of funding, but fails to mention the fact that the US does use such groups as a front for funding the undemocratic wing of the opposition. It fails to criticise this affront to Venezuela’s right to sovereignty.

11. Likewise, it doesn’t mention the important role played by the real human rights defenders in Venezuela: gender and sexuality activists and movements, indigenous and afro-descendents organisations, the Cuban doctors defending the right to free and quality health care, community activists, environmental movements, volunteer teachers, social mission workers, activist analysts who are constructively critical of the situation in the country, and so on. Many of these movements and workers receive financial, institutional, and/or legal support from the state, though there are improvements to be made there as well, such as legalising gay marriage, abortion, and so on.

Abuses by Security Forces

12. Here it is telling that HRW simply doesn’t mention Venezuela’s creation of the UNES, a university training police in human rights and preventative policing. While it is legitimate that HRW points out ongoing problems within the police forces, it doesn’t mention that such corruption has significantly decreased, nor that police political repression has been almost completely eliminated.

Prison Conditions

13. HRW rightly points out the ongoing problems of overcrowding and organised prisoner violence in prisons, but simply omits to mention anything the government is doing to improve prisoner rights, including letting those who have committed minor offences out during the day time to work or study, internal prison education and productive work programs, assistance on leaving prison, cultural workshops such as video production in prisons, and government meetings with prisoners.

Labour Rights

14. For HRW it seems labour rights are limited to the right of opposition supporters to work in governmental programs that they don’t agree with (a right they have). HRW omits to mention the Labour Law which came into effect in May last year, which beats most of the world in providing workers with rights to permanent work (contract labour is made illegal), to childcare in the workplace, to maternity leave and to paternity leave, shorter working hours, retirement pensions, and much much more.

15. HRW alleges that opposition workers were “threatened” with losing their jobs if they supported Capriles, but provides no evidence of that, nor mentions that of course voting is anonymous and such a threat could not be carried out, and neglects to mention that governor Capriles fired fire fighters in May last year for demanding pay they were owed, uniforms, and infrastructure improvements.

January 23, 2014 Posted by | Deception | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Worst Venezuela Articles of 2013?

Venezuelanalysis | December 20, 2013

This is my worst-five list for articles about Venezuela. I couldn’t help but declare ties for a few of the spots, so the “worst five” list actually has more than five articles. I’ve listed them from most horrible to least.

1)     It’s a three way tie! Two of the three are very recent articles that referred to Venezuela as a dictatorship. An article on Yahoo.com said Venezuela was “military-style dictatorship”. Another one on MSN.com said Hugo Chavez was a “dictator”. Sadly, these may have been honest mistakes – gross ignorance that results from corporate journalists being over exposed to their colleagues’ work which, in turn, leads them to spread even more ignorance among themselves and countless readers.

The third article sharing the worst spot is an editorial in the UK Independent that appeared just after Hugo Chavez died. The “Indy” editors wrote that Chavez “was no run-of-the-mill dictator. His offences were far from the excesses of a Colonel Gaddafi…” A letter I wrote to the Indy about this editorial was initially accepted but then rejected.

2)     Jon Lee Anderson eleven page “slumlord” article in the New Yorker, not only trashed Hugo Chavez’s government but also the majority of Venezuelans who consistently voted Chavista since 1998 as I explained here. Anderson strongly insinuated that a coup (not a free and fair election as actually took place) led to Hugo Chavez first assume office in 1999. As Keane Bhatt pointed out, The New Yorker’s “vaunted fact-checkers somehow permitted the publication” of that falsehood. The article combines disregard for facts with very noticeable amount of class bigotry. I debated awarding it the worst spot but decided that its long-windedness probably mitigated the damage done.

3)     This Economist article, which was thoroughly taken apart by Ryan Mallett-Outtrim, comes in third. My favorite part of Ryan’s demolition is the various TV interviews he points to that feature Henrique Capriles – the opposition leader whom the Economist claimed was “ignored” by a “cowed” media in the months prior to recent municipal elections. This lengthy interview with Capriles was shown on Venevision about a month before those elections. Venevision’s news broadcasts have the highest audience share in Venezuela. Capriles droned on and on unchallenged and uninterrupted.  He also didn’t say a peep about being ignored by broadcasters which was unsurprising. To do so under the circumstances would have looked quite ridiculous.

4)     Arguably, any five randomly chosen AP articles about Venezuela could take up most of the spots on this list. A very partisan op-ed should make some effort to present counterarguments to the views it promotes. AP dispenses with that in news articles where, readers are so often told, reporters have their fabled “objectivity” on display. In this piece I pointed out two recent AP articles that spread the myth of the voiceless opposition and a falsehood about Venezuela’s inflation rate.

5)     Given the incredibly dishonest and incompetent reporting about Venezuela, a spot must be reserved for this LA Times article “Nicolas Maduro Gaffes: Top 5 Worst Blunders Made By Venezuelan President In 2013”. Yes, an article that tells readers about things like President Maduro falling off a bike and mispronouncing some words made international headlines. The LA Times could obviously look at itself and its peers for “blunders”, and ones that actually matter. Just consider the other articles on this list.

December 20, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Henrique Capriles: The Prefabricated Leader

Never before in the history of Venezuela has a politician been so promoted and supported by the media as Henrique Capriles has been, and now more than ever. Never before has a politician received so much coverage, and such fawning attention from the media, especially given that we are talking about someone who isn’t even president.

If we were to look to the past we would find Rómulo Betancout, Rafael Caldera, and Carlos Andrés Pérez—all presidents with great media influence. But they were already president when they received so much coverage and still it was not even comparable to what Henrique Capriles receives today.

The fact that the press gives so much coverage to someone who isn’t even the president is unprecedented in our country. Not even in the case of famous opposition leaders of the past like “Tigre” Eduardo Fernández or the very Caldera and Carlos Andrés Pérez before they were presidents, has so much attention been given to a candidate.

Every single day the businessman Capriles appears in national and international media. Only those who are very naïve could believe that someone with so much support is an “independent” politician.

In the case of President Chavez, he didn’t get nearly as much attention from the media when he was a rising leader and presidential candidate. And when he did it was always with a certain slant, from an angle that attacked, criminalized and delegitimized his struggles and his ideas. Chavez couldn’t dream of having the media be so openly servile when he was candidate or when he was president.

Even the politicians named above, like Caldera or Carlos Andrés Pérez, who had a lot of support from the media, always had some journalists that were critical.  But with Capriles, those same media outlets won’t even touch him with a rose petal.

Capriles the “leader”

Objectively speaking, Henrique Capriles as a politician is rather mediocre: he is not a good speaker, he is not a great leader, he is not politically well-educated, he does not have a clear political platform, and he has little charisma. His rhetoric focuses on the daily problems of average Venezuelans, assuring that he can solve them, but without ever saying how. With so few real abilities, it is obvious that without his money and the media’s support he would not go anywhere as a political leader.

The fact that the media and the international press have converted such a mediocre politician into the “leader” of a large part of the Venezuelan population is something that should be studied by sociologists and marketing experts alike.

Conscious of the limitations of their candidate, ever since the 2012 elections the rightwing leadership has prohibited him from speaking openly with any media outlet that is not completely supportive of his candidacy: in other words, no community, alternative, leftist, or state media in any part of the world, no media that is not “normal” for the communication logic of big capital. On the other hand, Capriles speaks freely to any journalist or media outlet that is at the service of big capital. He speaks freely because he knows that they will never ask him an incisive question.

In his most recent campaign, Capriles’ fear of incisive questions was so great that he invented a new technique as far as electoral campaigns go: the “private” press conference. These are press conferences where only media that are supportive of his candidacy are allowed to enter. Every journalist that attends these “private” press conferences knows that the state media is not allowed to enter, and that no one can ask incisive questions, but not one of those journalists and none of the media outlets where they work has said anything about this censorship occurring among those who supposedly support democracy.

Lately, not only Capriles but also high up members of his campaign like Carlos Ocariz, mayor of Sucre municipality, have taken to ignoring any questions from reporters that they do not like, no matter how polite. But in spite of all this, they are presented by the private media, domestic and internationally, as being the bearers of democracy. If this kind of censorship can occur while they are in the opposition, we can only imagine what would happen if they were in power.

A Political Birth Bought And Paid For

Henrique Capriles does not come from a background of grassroots party leadership or community activism. Far from representing a “new kind of politics”, Capriles represents the exact same kind of politics that existed before, or perhaps even worse because he is disguised as something else.

He began his political career with an obvious political negotiation in the heart of the social-democratic party Copei, a party that nominated him as a representative in Congress for the state of Zulia. From there he was elected to represent a state in which he had never lived before, and above hundreds of regional leaders from a party that had had previous governors from Zulia. But Copei preferred to run the son of a business leader and disparage the merits of so many local leaders.

With the backing of Copei, as a Congressman he immediately became the president of the Congress, as the old political system attempted to recover its losses from the hurricane that Chavez’s new leadership represented. In this way, the young businessman-made-politician rapidly took over one of the most important posts in the Fourth Republic [as the pre-Chavez era from 1958-1999 is known]. With enough financial backing anyone can be elected to any post.

However, as president of Congress, Henrique Capriles did not hesitate to throw Copei to one side, declaring that he “does not respond to political pressures from any party”. It is very easy to say something like that when you’ve already been elected, and much easier when you have an economic empire backing you.

That is how the rightwing creates their prefabricated politicians.

The Communicational Strategy of the Parallel Government

The strategy underway on the part of big capital, its political actors and its media outlets in Venezuela is that of a parallel government. With the argument that Capriles lost by a very narrow margin, and therefore the country is divided in “two halves”, Capriles doesn’t receive the media coverage that he should as the governor of Miranda, or as a defeated candidate, but rather he is treated by the media as if he were the very president of the country. Whatever he says, whatever interview he does, whatever comment he makes on Twitter, it is immediately covered by all the private media that are constantly waiting to report on everything he does or says.

Instead of having an equitable distribution of the news priorities, this posture by the media is clearly a strategy of aggression against our country. There have been recent cases such as Calderón in Mexico with a narrow victory over López Obrador, or that of Bush over Al Gore in the United States. In both cases the defeated candidates were given media coverage for the first few days after the elections, but afterwards they were treated as everyday politicians again, receiving little media coverage. Only here in Venezuela do they keep giving more coverage to the losing candidate than they give to the very President.

Translation by Chris Carlson for Venezuelanalysis.com

May 20, 2013 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

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

Arrested US citizen tied to rightists’ conspiracy

timothy_hallet_tracy-498

Agencia Venezolana de Noticias | April 25, 2013

Caracas – Interior Relations, Justice and Peace minister, Miguel Rodriguez Torres, informed Thursday about the arrest of a US citizen named Timothy Hallett Tracy, who is allegedly tied to conspiracy of local right-wing sectors against democracy in Venezuela.

Actions carried out by Timothy Hallett Tracy, aka ‘gringo,’ are tied to far right groups which seek to destabilize Venezuela through attacks in the streets after the April 14 presidential elections.

Minister Rodriguez Torres said that the objective of the plan was to create chaos in the country to undermine the government, creating a violent scenario.

“It is important to inform the population about situations that have been occurring. We will show the reasons and ties they have to carry out a series of actions we have been living since the April 14 elections at night,” Rodriguez Torres said at a press conference.

Since October, November and December 2012, he said, the National Bolivarian Service of Intelligence (SEBIN) started investigations on a plan named Connection April.

“All evidences we have gathered showed that the election day would come in complete normality; but once results were released by the National Electoral Council (CNE), right-wing candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski would refuse to accept it,” the Minister detailed.

During investigations, Rodriguez Torres added, a US citizen was found deeply related to rightist young people who make up the so-called Operation Sovereignty.

“When this relationship was found, surveillance and monitoring started and we noticed that this person manage to infiltrate into revolutionary groups to get their protection, though he related with the far right,” explained the Interior Relations, Justice and Peace minister.

This US citizen is presumed to be member of an intelligence agency. Also, he has been funded by foreign non governmental organizations.

Connection April

Miguel Rodriguez Torres explained that the plan Connection April aimed at stirring actions after results of the presidential election were released and leading to a civil war.

“It was its objective, leading us to a civil war. We have documents in proof of it, which they exchange through chips. Messengers took them from La Castellana square (eastern Caracas) to gringo’s house.”

According to him, investigations revealed that the idea was to achieve a civil war in Venezuela to lead to the immediate intervention of a foreign power.

“Those were and continue being their ends. We have over 500 videos seized in a raid. We wonder, Does housewives who voted for the opposing option want a civil war? Does taxi drivers want that? I am sure that nobody in this country, regardless of their stance, wants that, except these extremist groups headed by extremist leaders of rightist parties who want civil war,” said the Miguel Rodriguez Torres.

Evidence

At a press conference, minister Miguel Rodriguez Torres presented a video in which Antonio Rivero, retired general of the Armed Force, giving orders to people who disturbed public order at Altamira community, greater Caracas.

All evidence seized in a raid carried out last Wednesday night will be submitted to the corresponding organs.

The National Government has managed to act on time to continue guaranteeing peace and calm to the Venezuelan population thanks to intelligence actions nationwide, Rodriguez Torres stressed.

“The President of the Republic, Nicolas Maduro, has emphasized that this country will always be on the road of peace and coexistence. It has to be an effort of all Venezuelans, regardless of our ideological and political stance. We have to reject and isolate these fascist factors that are trying that Venezuelans kill among ourselves and hate ourselves. We cannot allow that,” insisted the Minister.

April 26, 2013 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | 1 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