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Venezuela: Official Statement of the OAS and Carter Centre

Press release of OAS and Carter Centre Missions

Caracas, 24 of February, 2004 - The Mission of the Organization of the American States (O.A.S.) and the Carter Centre have been observing from the beginning the process of gathering, verification and validation of signatures that Venezuela’s National Electoral Council (CNE) develops to determine the validity of a recall referendum. This task has been made by virtue of an invitation of the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and the Electoral Power and within the framework of the established agreement of the 23 of May of the 2003, produced as a result of the table of Negotiation and Agreements.

The O.A.S. and the Carter Centre are thankful, once again, for the confidence demonstrated by the Executive authority, the Electoral Power and the representatives of the opposition and we reiterated the commitment and the will to continue our efforts so that the Venezuelans find a constitutional, democratic, pacific and electoral exit to its differences, as it consecrates Resolution 833 of the Permanent Council of the O.A.S., dated the 16 of December of 2002.

Preoccupation exists at the moment about the validity of the signatures printed in denominated ‘planillas planas’ (signature forms) where the writing of the initial data of people keeps similarity. The O.A.S. and the Carter Centre consider legitimate the preoccupation in the sense that it is precise to determine if a person has signed by another one, opposing clearly the norm approved by the CNE and the most personal sense of the act of will expression.

At the moment, several methodologies exist to determine if the signatures of a universe, like the ones requesting to call for a referendum, are authentic. Given the extreme complexity that would imply to review or to compare the tracks or the signatures with the data stored in the Direction of Identification and Immigration of Venezuela (DIEX), the O.A.S. and the Carter Centre have presented/displayed to the CNE, like an alternative, a proposal technically viable, used previously in several countries and supported by international experts. It consists of determining a random sample, statistically representative of the total universe of lists, and soon collating one by one the tracks and signatures that appear therein with the ones provided directly by those signers. The results of this sample would serve to establish if indeed, in the case of the so called ‘planillas planas’ or other forms, the signatures correspond to people who have expressed their will freely or if on the contrary unacceptable irregularities exist, which would help to establish the magnitude of the problem. This would allow the CNE to determine the proportion of the total number of invalid signatures for effectively decide about which methodology shall be put in place, either that it is assumed that the signatures are valid and therefore the signers must ask for their inclusion or that the citizens are required to reaffirm its will. The O.A.S. and the Carter Centre respect the autonomy of the decisions of the CNE, such being the reason why they make this suggestion in a respectful manner so that the Electoral Council can fulfil appropriately its constitutional function and the principle of presumption of good faith at the time of signing the said forms.

Both organizations continue worried about the pressures and harassments to the directors and workers of the CNE, therefore we exhort once again Venezuelans, including media, the political parties and the governmental authorities, to allow that the CNE continues with its task free of pressures. The O.A.S. and the Carter Centre wish to insist before the CNE on the necessity to find solutions that are transparent, agile and simple, subject to previous norms and that presume the good faith of the signers.

Finally, the O.A.S. and the Carter Centre show their will to continue accompanying the CNE in this process until its conclusion, including the period of repairs that according to the norms is due to fulfil.



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