Monday, March 15, 2004

A surprise announcement on the recall election against Chavez in Venezuela
Breaking news!

Monday 15, March 2004

In a very unsettling move for the Chavez camp that thought it had the upper hand in the Venezuelan High Court, TSJ, one of its sections, the Sala Electoral, decided to invalidate some of the very contested decisions taken by the Electoral Board, CNE.

Indeed, the TSJ is composed of 20 members divided into several sections, one is the Sala Electoral, and another one is the Sala Constitucional which, as its name indicate, deals with constitutional rights. When one of the sections ruling is appealed on solid grounds, the 20 judges decide as a last resort.

The Sala Constitucional is formed by 5 judges, 3 of them devoted to the Chavez cause. In the last few days they have tried to hijack the decision on appeals presented by the opposition from the Sala Electoral by means of a rather dubious legality. But today the Sala Electoral, probably not amused by the coarse usurpation attempts, ruled that the trashing of 500 000 signatures was not right and these people should be allowed to "correct" or "ratify" their signatures.

But even more damming, taking up the arguments advanced by the Carter Center and the OAS, they decided that the good intention should prevail in the 800 000 signatures put under observation. This means that instead of forcing 800 000 people to go and ratify, the 800 000 ID numbers should be published and those that do not agree being in that list should be the ones going and denounce the fraud to which their name was subjected. As it should be.

If this decision stands, and that remains to be seen as it is certain that the Sala Constitucional is going to try to make some move, it almost guarantees that the 20% signatures requirement has been met, or will be met. It is very unlikely that the chavista camp will be able to demonstrate that several hundred thousand of people in the 800 K lot did not sign. And even if they manage to get a few thousand to "change their minds", the opposition should get enough of the 500 K lot to compensate.

The math is quite simple

2.4 million needed.
1.8 already in
0.8 almost in
0.5 can still be made to go in

Chavismo needs to annul 0.7 out of the (0.8 + 0.5) = 1.3. A daunting task at the very least. Unless of course Chavez was right in the "megafraude", for which we are still waiting for the hard evidence. Now there is his golden chance to prove that he was right all along as hundred of thousand of people will clog the streets to have their name removed and finally uncover the fraudulent opposition.

Yeah, right....

Now, on to Chavez next move, and it will probably not be a pretty one....

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Note added later: El Universal is out with the news too. Nothing in English yet. I will write more tonight as I learn all the details and figure out whether I understood correctly all the legalese involved earlier on. One thing is certain, Bernal the spokesperson of chavismo today (they seem to take turns), was almost foaming at the mouth. It must have hurt.

Note added even later: Ismael Garcia, quite unhinged, is calling for chavistas to go tomorrow to the High Court to ask for the removal of the "bastard" judges that betrayed the people, going even as far as accusing them to get money for that decision. More tonight.

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