Today there is a special treat: all of my links will taker you to an English written page. Hopefully it will help the reader make more sense of the story as I am soon to reach my wits' end.
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Let's start in 1999. The new constitution had an innovation: instead of the three traditional powers (executive, legislative and judicial) we now had five- The 4th one was a citizens power which was a "clever" way to hide the return of one of the worst ideas of Bolivar (he was no Zarathoustra) the "moral power". But Chavez cannot find anything wrong with Bolivar, or Castro or Ahmadinejad. This lack of critical choice abilities do bother me…But I disgress. The 5th power took many people aback: it was an electoral power. Apparently in the Bolivarian hubris, elections are so sacred that they must be run by a fully independent entity, that is, an "independent" 5th power even if as the other powers name it, even if it has little, if any, influence on them. And thus we had the CNE transformed into some Frankenstein of an institution who single handedly has done more to undermine the meaning of vote than anything else that Chavez could have done.
If we were to follow the logic of such an incongruous 5th power creation, one should assume that even the condominium elections should be monitored by the CNE. Of course it does not happen, but it could someday if convenient for the government. In fact more than once the CNE has shown its tendency, like any silly bureaucracy in world history to put its nose where it should not.
The reaction was to be expected, and it came through what is now the best known Venezuelan NGO, Sumate, who has been working hard at making elections more transparent and meaningful, and not the pitiful empty voting booths of election days. Regularly Sumate reminds the CNE that it does not even know the electoral laws of the country....
This of course has been most displeasing for the Chavez administration which sees elections as the legal way to retain power, but certainly not as a way to let people express their wishes. In their crusade against Sumate chavismo has used two tall tales.
The first one was the National Endowment for Democracy support to Sumate. If we are to believe some of the dim bulbs of chavismo the very few hundred thousand dollars that Sumate has received over the year from the US Congress through bi-partisan NED, would be enough to overthrow Chavez. Chavistas are of course conveniently forgetful of the millions and millions of dollars they loot from the national treasury to finance their electoral campaigns while the 1999 piece of constitutional garbage says that the state cannot finance political parties electoral campaigns. This argument did not stir much uproar outside Venezuela where everyone knows that the election of, say, a Miami mayor costs several folds what Sumate received for the whole of Venezuela.
So chavismo moved to their second tall tale: Maria Corina Machado, the Sumate president, as a gun toting coup monger. It turns out that Maria Corina had the bad idea to visit Miraflores during the awful, fascist, totalitarian dictatorship that ravaged Venezuela for the whole of 48 hours in April of 2002. Heck, the bloody regime was so short lived that it did not even make it to the pages of the official legal journal of the republic, thus not even having legal proof of its existence. But the entry sheet of Miraflores where Maria Corina reported her name (as you do in almost ANY official building of Caracas) is more valid a proof of her despicable terrorist activities than the videos of 1992 where people today in power tried to kill their way to power. Of course, the depiction of Maria Corina going to Miraflores to receive a gun and go out to kill thousand of poor innocent chavistas has not held very well outside of the chavismo feeblest minds: for all its threats chavismo has not dared to arrest Maria Corina yet, so far trying to scare her into fleeing the country, with little success.
Unfortunately the government must do something again. See, Sumate is organizing primary elections between the opposition candidates. For a while everyone thought that they would not be able to convince the opposition candidates to run in a primary. So Sumate, the most prestigious opposition organization decided to show some muscle and force them to run. They did, at least all the ones with a serious shot at winning. The elections will be held on August 13.
Now of course this became instantly a major headache for the government. This one was watching placidly as the opposition was debating endlessly the now professional chicaneries of the CNE instead of Chavez misrule. Now with the World Cup over, Chavez who was hoping to take back the front scene is facing the prospect of being relegated to second page all the way until August 15. His ego cannot bear it! Something had to be done. The best was of course to sink Sumate once and for all and thus no primaries could be held. With blinding speed two of the very scummiest chavista representatives in the mindless monochromatic National Assembly, Albornoz and Ismael Garcia proposed and got voted by unanimity a resolution to ask all the other public powers to scrutinize the actions of Sumate, where the funds for the primaries were coming, etc, etc… without of course making any mention as to investigating the way Chavez is looting the country for his own campaign. But chavismo has moved beyond double standard long ago: we have now reached the single standard again, the one set at will by El Supremo.
So there we are now: arrest has been requested against the Sumate leadership, investigation of how they are running the primaries, and even a suggestion that the CNE should run the primaries, just to make sure that no one would go and vote in the primaries. See, the government is showing this way that it is scared, real, real scared by even the remote possibility that the opposition primaries might be a success. Imagine what would happen if more people showed for the primaries than for the December 2005 elections where abstention was “officially” at an already staggering 75%? Imagine that an opposition leader emerged? Imagine that the opposition unites after the primaries? Imagine that the campaign for the primaries actually discusses the rule of Chavez and offers ways to improve things in Venezuela? No way Jose!!!!!!!!
But Sumate is fine: it has announced that it has nothing to hide, that all of their accounts will be made public, that they will attend any citation that is sent their way. Meanwhile we are still waiting for an account of the vulgar sums of money spent by Chavez in 2004 and 2005. We are of course not holding our breath, nor expecting that the present CNE will ever even pretend to ask mild questions to the ones that run that campaign. In fact we already have fresh evidence of how biased in favor of Chavez the CNE will be during the next campaign as it will not limit access of Chavez to state media while effectively barring opposition access to it. Who cares about tax payers’ money supporting state TV at the CNE?
Every day chavismo manages to look more abject than the preceding day. Amazing!