Tuesday, September 07, 2004

My Mayor is free
(and the fraud charges seem to be gathering a second wind)

Well, he is not really my mayor (1) and he is not really free, but who is counting? The fact is that Capriles Radonski, Baruta's mayor, held in jail WITHOUT trial for now 4 months, has surprisingly been freed yesterday, at least until the trial begins. The interpretation is quite simple: the whole thing has been a political set up which has no bearing to any actual crime or misdeed. And at any rate, if there were some illegal action, the actions of the government had been way out of proportion.

So why suddenly this release?

Politics again. The Chavez administration needs desperately to move the agenda away from the Recall Election and the fraud claims. It needs to force the country to gain some interest in the Regional Election where it hopes to drive the final nails in the opposition coffin. But Capriles has become such a symbol for the opposition, such a surprising leader constantly enhanced by his term in jail, that they finally decided to do the only sensible thing: free him. The government has tried everything against Capriles, even anti semitism, all to naught. Only the rabid dogs at aporrea still use terms as Ratonski, whose dubious taste in pun can even come across in English.

So, trying to cut its losses, and knowing that the servile justice will be willing to put Capriles back in jail at a more favorable time, chavismo has released Capriles.

The timing is also particularly good. With a judge involved at some point in the Capriles case caught red handed with a bribe, with an alleged "cacerolazo" last Sunday that might have caused the suspension of an "alo presidente" on technical "problems", with new announcements on the possible fraud on August 15, freeing Capriles might be seen as changing the news headlines and perhasp even tending an olive branch to the opposition. How this would fool the opposition escapes me! The only thing that the opposition wants is to ensure that future elections will be fair. However, a hugely popular Capriles on the campaign circuit could actually benefit Chavez in that AD might be tempted to work with him to block the rise of Primero Justicia at the local level. All is possible in this "Tierra de Gracia".

On other things. I am on the road so researching for writing is rather difficult. In particular I would like to have more time to understand the new developments on the August 15 possible fraud. Sumate has announced that the statisitical studies on the referendum results are looking fishier by the day (in English here). Even the Carter Center "experts" do not seem so certain lately. Fortunately Miguel has been able to follow the story.

I do not know what will eventually result form that. Since statistics will never bring the neat proof that people like, such as a ballot box found in the trash, I doubt that the delinquents presiding in the CNE will be that easily dislodged. This type of studies take weeks and months until eventually enough people are definitively convinced (and I am not talking of Carter whose stubborness is legendary and cost him his office in 1980). But what is really important now is that "reasonable doubts" have been cast on the results and that will never go away, the more when one remembers all the shenanigans that preceeeded the Recall Election.

Last night Maria Corina Machado was in 30 Minutos. She was quite explicit, and pragmatic. Her point was that all these investigations should at the very least result in cleaner elections next month. One wonders if the government will accept that as the price to pay to have Chavez in office until at least 2006. One thing is certain, these recent days the government has started giving some signs of a softening of some of its positions. Yet another trap or the real thing?

(1) I used to be registered in Baruta for voting until I moved to San Felipe

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