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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

Venezuelan Government Accuses Capriles of Making “Impossible” Demands

By Chris Carlson | Venezuelanalysis | April 25, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Chris Carlson | Venezuelanalysis | April 18th, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Chris Carlson | Venezuelanalysis | April 17th, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chavez Wins Venezuelan Presidential Election with 54% of the Vote

By Ewan Robertson | Venezuelanalysis | October 7th 2012

Mérida – Hugo Chavez has won the Venezuelan presidential election with 54.42% of the vote against 44.97% for opposition candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski. Chavez has made his victory speech, while Capriles has recognised his defeat.

The “first bulletin” results were announced by the president of the National Electoral Council (CNE), Tibisay Lucena, at around 10pm Venezuelan time, with 90% of the votes totaled, enough to give Chavez an irreversible victory.

The CNE president said, “Once again we’ve had a calm electoral process, without problems, with the joy of this people who decided to vote massively today”.

A spontaneous street party immediately kicked off in the centre of the Andean city of Merida, and a massive crowd of Chavez supporters began celebrating in front of the presidential palace, Miraflores, in Caracas.

“Venezuela will never return to neoliberalism and will continue in the transition to socialism of the 21st century,” Chavez declared to supporters from the “People’s Balcony” of the presidential palace, after his victory was confirmed.

“I want make a recognition to the whole Venezuelan people, the whole Venezuelan nation. Today the country of (Simon) Bolivar was reborn,” added the socialist president, while congratulating the country “for a civic and democratic day”.

The re-elected Venezuelan president also congratulated the Venezuelan opposition for recognising the CNE’s result, saying “they’ve recognised the truth, they’ve recognised the victory of the people”.

Meanwhile, Henrique Capriles, who was the candidate for the opposition Roundtable of Democratic Unity Coalition (MUD), recognised his defeat, stating to supporters “to know how to win, you need to know how to lose!”

He added, “We began the construction of a path and on it there are more than six million people who are looking for a better future…I’m convinced that this country can be better and I’m convinced that Venezuela is going to be better”.

Chavez received a total of 7,444,082 votes to 6,151,154 for his right-wing rival. He will govern for the 2013 – 2019 presidential term, his third constitutional term in office under the 1999 National Constitution.

Turnout was one the highest in Venezuela’s history, with 80.94% of the 19,119,809 registered voters in Venezuela participating in the election.

October 8, 2012 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | 3 Comments