Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Leopoldo Lopez press conference to foreign correspondents on readiness for O-7

Lopez, between Reuters and RCN
Being these days for work in Caracas I got a call from my contact and off I went to attend a press conference of Leopoldo Lopez to the foreign correspondents in Venezuela, as to the readiness of the Unidad/MUD/opposition for October 7.

I certainly was interested.  Not only Miguel had the chance to talk with the guys in charge of making sure that chavismo does not steal an opposition vote, but when I interviewed Lopez a few days before the primaries he told me that his function in the coming campaign was going to direct all the effort to organize the logistics for election day. In politics one should never miss the opportunity to do a follow up, the more so if it comes from the big boss.

I am not going to bother you with the details.  First, Miguel has an excellent account published in three parts when he was last in Venezuela (part 1, part 2 and part 3).  The more relevant part for today's press conference was part 3 of Miguel, on how to defend the vote. Second, it would be too long. Lopez speaks fast, with a high data intensity, and at one point they asked him to slow down. Besides, articles are starting to appear and I am lazy (already here, here and here).

Explaining the danger zones
Let's start to illustrate what a daunting task it is in what is a nearly lawless country. Lopez informed us that the opposition needs around 210K "witness" to monitor 13,810 voting centers. That is, one inside to watch out for possible fraud, one watching the lines to see who is legit or not and one to help electors confused by this or that. The drama here is that the people that the CNE supposedly picked at random either have not the proper training or are strongly biased toward the pro Chavez option because the selection is not that random.  And amen to the military in charge of order....  That is why in some centers there has been 100% participation, 100% votes for Chavez.  Nobody was sick, nobody pushed the wrong button by mistake. But there was no opposition witness.....

To this you must add that the opposition has identified more than 800 remote sites where there is no cell phone coverage, and where sometimes there is no roads to begin with.  But it gets worse, there are about 300 centers which have a high risk of violence, that is, centers where the opposition witness could be, well, hurt. This is no joke, Lopez being willing to state that the regime was playing the violence card.  At the rehearsal of two weeks ago, the witness at Caracas 23 de Enero where threatened with death if they dared to come back. Interestingly, the EFE dispatches that are the first to circulate on this reunion forget to mention any of these facts, focusing on those that make the election look like a normal election.......

According to Lopez, Venezuelan election are way worse than Russia in state abuses. He all but dared anyone to prove him wrong.

But if this was the negative part, the meeting had also plenty of positive news. First, the opposition has nearly 100% centers with at least one witness.  Even in Havana!  If I got it right, the two witness centers are getting close to 90% and they are still hoping that they will make it to three witnesses almost everywhere by election day.  You need to note that it is not just a matter to sign up, you are trained for that. You can imagine the logistics behind of all of this and all on a shoe string income when compared to the billions wasted by the regime in vote buying and what not.

Also I really liked Lopez tone. It feels confident, that the opposition will win, that we are all doing our best.  This is perhaps the best news of all, that this time the opposition activists are really motivated, as political activists have never been in decades.  I know, I know, he is a politician, but there is something about the way you behave, the way you reply to questions over an hour that betrays how confident you are. Lopez is at least confident that all that was possible has been done. And that, my friends, is already priceless.

PS: I did a live tweet so for those interested I pasted it below as more details appear.


Not even in russia there are abuses like in venezuela.
The journalist of EFE, of course, is more interested in el paquetazo, switching of alliances than the organization of the opposition. Geez
There is probably no election in the world where the state is at the service of one electoral option like is the case in venezuela.
There is no electoral observation. What we will see is electoral tourism. But observation is no guarantee of good results.
The objective is to convince CNE and the army play fair on october 7. The Capriles camp will play fair.
“el gobierno se esta jugando la carta de la violencia” the regime plays the violence card. His words.
Describing the voting centers where guerrilla can be a problem.
Like one in Elorza, sorry, there many centers in Elorza.
In districts like Elorza there is also problems like guerrilla.... Chavismo in last elections got 100%. No one was sick....
It is a huge labor where EVERY DETAIL, every one is essential
the opposition witnesses on “el simulacro” in 23 enero were threatened with death during the event.
Too many party boss “help" people to vote, people that can very well vote for themselves.
“voto asistido" is still a potential problem.
Practically 100% centers have one witness properly trained. The objective is 3. They are almost making it to 2 and hope for 3 by E~day
Special problems: about 800 voting centers without phone signal; about 300 centers with potential violence; jails; embassies.
Chavismo strategy was to carry people. They only managed to carry 900,000 people. They failed in their strategy.
The rehearsal vote "simulacro" strategy was to make sure that their guys would show up. They had a near 100% success.
Teams at all levels. From national to local. A structure for constant communication during voting day essential.
Many process involved. From bringing voters to the polls to make sure that the results are transmitted accurately.
Stressing how important to monitor small voting centers. We are talking of centers where may have to go on "burro", donkey back.
The on to the real meat: how to guarantee votes are ALL COUNTED. The complex logistics.
A clear resume of the situation starts, reminding among other stuff the overwhelming media advantage of the regime.
Getting ready for live twitting of Leopoldo Lopez to foreign press about electoral preparations.


  1. 1979 Boat People6:17 AM

    Sounds like the Oppo is well prepared for the October 7.

  2. Anonymous6:39 AM

    Great coverage!!!! I as usual had to translate the news articles, but that is very small compared to what Venezuelans will have to go through to have a legal vote. Thank you for all these years I’ve followed you. I’m the one who sent you the photos from Chicago when we protested several years back. My Civil Union Parter from Venezuela and I have great respect for your work. Tears fill my eyes for the suffering of some many lives in Venezuela and I know this year will bring great change with wonderful results.
    Thank you again
    Native American Indian, Chicago

  3. Dr. Faustus3:22 PM

    "According to Lopez, Venezuelan election are way worse than Russia in state abuses. He all but dared anyone to prove him wrong."

    He's right! The 'kitchen sink theory' has yet to be entered into the election equation. The Chavistas will not go calmly into the night. Count on that. The dramatic finale has yet to be revealed. Be careful.

  4. Anonymous5:05 PM

    "the EFE dispatches that are the first to circulate on this reunion forget to mention any of these facts"

    At some point in these kind of press conferences they're gonna have to start calling out on EFE's ridiculous partiality. They have to make the point of spending at least 5 minutes telling it like it is and showing all the crap that EFE tries to get away with, so the other correspondents have an excuse to properly put EFE in their place simply by quoting what Capriles said.

  5. Leopoldo is doing it well.


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