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Venezuela's CNE*: Constitution not Effective

By Alexandra Beech, veninvestor.com

In what could be the most questionable decision in recent Venezuelan history, the National Electorate Council (CNE) decided today that Venezuelans living abroad may not participate in the signature drive for the referendum against President Hugo Chavez.

Even though the CNE controlled the conditions for the petition drive, election authorities decided that only Venezuelans living in Venezuela can sign for the referendum.

Thousands of Venezuelans would have been eligible to sign in other countries. Even though Venezuelans must register at a local embassy or consulate to vote, the same condition did not apply for the signature drive, which threatened the Chavez administration at its core, since most Venezuelans living abroad oppose the regime.

This solely political decision, lamely supported by international organizations such as the Carter Center, violates the following articles in the 1999 Bolivarian constitution:

1.) All citizens have a right to participate freely in public affairs…it is the obligation of the State and the duty of society to facilitate the most favorable conditions for this exercise.” (Article 62)

2.) The following are the People’s means of participation in the exercise of their sovereignty, regarding politics: the election of public officials, the referendum, a popular consult, the recall of a mandate. (Article 70)

Furthermore, the decision violates the fourth clause of OAS Resolution 833, presented on December 16, 2002 by the OAS Permanent Council, which resolved:

4.) To urge the Government of Venezuela to ensure respect for, and to urge all sectors of society to preserve, the free exercise of the essential elements of democracy to promote a constitutional, democratic, peaceful, and electoral solution. (Point 5)

The CNE’s decision violates the agreement reached on May 29, 2002 between the government and the opposition, facilitated by the OAS, the United Nations Development Programme, and the Carter Center. The Agreement states that “we, the parties, agree that this resolution of the crisis should be achieved through application of Article 72 of the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, which provides for the possible holding of revocatory referenda on the mandates of all those holding positions and serving as magistrates as a result of popular election, where they have served one-half of the term for which they were elected (governors, mayors, regional legislators, and representatives in the National Assembly), or will have served one-half of their term in the course of this year, as is the case of the President of the Republic…”

There is no viable excuse for this flagrant violation of human and constitutional rights in Venezuela. The constitution states in Article 21 that all persons are considered equal under the law. However, under Chavez, some Venezuelans are considered more equal that others. Just as it provided the conditions for the signature drive, the National Elections Council could have monitored the process through the government’s embassies and consular offices. Venezuelans deserve democracy and freedom.

*CNE: Spanish acronym for National Electoral Council



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