Venezuela: Is the Electoral Board near implosion?
Monday 31, May 2004 - Or is too late already to avoid electoral fraud in Venezuela? In an astounding development, Ezequiel Zamora, the vice president of the Electoral board, CNE, went solo for a very strong and delicate series of declarations and statements. Briefly resumed.
1) He has tried to obtain a meeting of the Board all through the day. Apparently it has been impossible, to the point that he decided to go solo at 6 PM. It is inconceivable that on a post election day the CNE cannot manage to gather. What explanation will give the three pro Chavez rectors? One could be missing, but three?
2) He has been deliberately lied to when he asked for the data as to how the signature validation process was going on. When finally they had to give in and give in the data they cut off his PC terminal on his office alleging some "programming problem".
3) He has stated that there is no way that a change in the rules will take place. This if course is an indirect acknowledgment of the buzz today as to an attempt once more by the pro Chavez rectors to modify the previous regulations to allow them to yet, again, modify the final results. This could be seen coming this way after the disgraceful presentation of Carrasquero, the president of the CNE yesterday.
4) To a journalist question as to rumors that the "validation books" were delayed in their arrival to the CNE because they were going first through Tiuna Fort (the military headquarters of the pro-Chavez factions within the Army) for appropriate doctoring, he told that if that were true then the CNE had no more business to do and could close shop. He promised to personally investigate after saying "I certainly hope that this is not happening".
5) He finished his declaration saying to the journalists that "if another rector dares to come here to make a rebuttal of my words, please wait for me, I will be right back". A definitive gauntlet to the pro Chavez majority. Is the CNE fianlly reaching the implosion point?
A fast reading of the situation: the CNE has seen the data, Chavez lost. And the pro-Chavez faction decided for the fraud, outright fraud even if Gaviria and Carter are still around. Zamora has sent them an ultimatum. All evidence so far seems to confirm a possible fraud, unaccountable delays, missing people. It is for the pro-Chavez rectors to come out and deny everything. We will be waiting expectantly.
More this evening, perhaps. Life time reporting again folks!
Note added in proof: for the record.
The opposition, quite upset about the rules change in January, AFTER the signature collection, a change in rules that allowed the pro Chavez faction to suspend 1.5 million signatures, had been negotiating really hard to make sure that such a scenario could not happen again. Yet...
In addition it must be noted that every day the validation centers closed and emitted a formal document with one copy for each of the parts. Thus the opposition RIGHT NOW has the final numbers even if it is not allowed to publish them. So does the government know, and so do the international observers. If fraud is still possible it will be very, very difficult to make it palatable for the country and the International community. Certainly much more difficult than the signature invalidation rules that the OAS and Carter Center objected in March.
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