Friday, March 19, 2004

Venezuelan Electoral Board, CNE, gets ready for a major international break up
Probably at the bequest of Chavez looking for an excuse to do so

Friday 19, March 2004

Today it was Yaracuy’s holiday, Saint Joseph. We were closed at work so I left at noon for Caracas and I have not been worrying too much about the news, instead listening to opera for most of the 3 hours drive. There is a march planned tomorrow, not a major one but a meaningful one and I will likely go, if I can find my usual march companions.

Tonight the news is in the natural prolongation of the preceding one, and now reaching the first symptoms of breaking point. Indeed, the biggest pressure that the Chavez administration is experiencing right now is from the International Forum. The only way to escape is to break up with the outside world and it seems that Venezuela is heading that way.

Let’s start with Battaglini who deserves the Vile Moment of the Day award. This 5th rector of the Electoral Board, CNE, is the silent one. Actually it was the first time that I heard him talk! And now I know why they do not send him out too often. He limited himself to repeat what has become the official line, namely that they are waiting for the Constitutional Court to save their butts, but what was particularly interesting was the contempt that could be sensed in his voice. One could hear all the sourness accumulated over the years against real or imaginary woes. Truly a small, vengeful man.

Carrasquero gets again the Vile Person of the Day award. No contest. Again, as the house is burning, as he is supposed to prepare to obey rulings he refuses to acknowledge, he goes to Maracaibo for some University event, packed with chavismo and faculty looking for chavismo grants, where he will be the guest speaker. I suppose he needed an ego boost. At some point he declared to the press that the debate is not an electoral debate because signatures are not votes. Ergo, it is to the Constitutional Court to deal with the matter. And this guy was a law teacher!

Back in Caracas, we learn that he started yet another lawsuit in the name of the CNE without consulting the other rectors. Zamora actually called for a meeting tomorrow to examine all thes emajor decisions taken without his knowledge. We will see what excuse Carrasquero will come up with in order not to face his colleagues who he has been stabbing in the back for the past 48 hours.

But if his words were a repeat performance he did not look very confident, and avoided direct eye contact with the camera. Interesting. Perhaps at that moment he was already aware of the bomb that the OAS was going to drop on him. Taking Carrasquero at his word when he accused the OAS of partiality against Chavez, the OAS representative in Caracas, Fernando Jaramillo writes in a letter sent to EVERY rector of the CNE:

"In your declarations, you assert that you have proofs of your affirmations. Considering the gravity of such allegations, with all due respect I request through this note, as the head of the OAS mission, that you let them know to me, or that you make them public in order to avoid creating confusion among the citizens."

My emphasis.

What Mr. Jaramillo says is that in Venezuela Carrasquero and Chavez can get away unjustly accusing people as there is no way to force such people to justify or take back their words. But the OAS is an international organization and it cannot let such things go by. And Carrasquero cannot fail to put up, or retract and apologize. There will be consequences if he ignores this letter.

Jennifer McCoy of the Carter Center was declaring along those lines too in CNN tonight.

And Venezuela's position is weakening every day as reports of Human Rights abuses keep piling up, in addition to his electoral fraud. Chavez needs a way out of international pressure.

No wonder Mr. Carrasquero did not look too good today. A small man, dragged into something that is just too big for him.

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