Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Venezuelan election fraud

This is not just another election in a country where political actors abide by democratic rules and civilized behavior. It is an election where a choice of society is being made, and where one side is prepared to use any method to remain in power, even elections if it is assured of "winning" them.

From "Evidence of an electoral fraud is growing" International Herald Tribune, August 18, 2004. Author: Enrique ter Horst. Who is:
Enrique ter Horst, a Venezuelan national, is a lawyer and political analyst in Caracas. A former assistant secretary general of the United Nations, he headed the UN peacekeeping operations in El Salvador and Haiti, and was the UN Deputy High Commissioner of Human Rights.

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Jimmy Carter's quick certification of the election made the opposition suspicious, and his hectoring to get them to accept an audit and certification doesn't help in this story.
Mr. Carter made clear that the opposition would look foolish if it keeps crying foul after the audit, which he said should be completed by Thursday.
“It should be sufficient to address the remaining concerns that have been expressed by the opposition,” Mr. Carter said.

Carter is quick to certify Chavez, despite this.
Strengthened by his victory, Mr. Chavez is setting his sights on centralizing power, including exerting control over the courts, local police and the nation's broadcast stations.

The government is “going to deepen the social and democratic revolution in Venezuela,” vowed Vice-President Jose Vicente Rangel, the right-hand man to Mr. Chavez.
Mr. Chavez said after his latest electoral victory that it will give his government a “catalyzing energy” to carry out its initiatives, including “completing the transformation of the judicial branch.”

Congress, which is controlled by Chavez supporters, recently approved a measure allowing that body to remove and appoint judges to the Supreme Court. One Supreme Court justice has already been ousted for allegedly falsifying his résumé, a charge he denied.

The government is also seeking to exert control over TV and radio stations, many of which are deeply critical of Mr. Chavez. The government plans to submit a bill to Congress that would allow the government to ban programming it sees as slanderous or an incitement to violence and to punish violators.

The government is studying the possibility of unifying municipal and state police forces into a national police force, wresting control from mayors and governors, many of whom are Chavez opponents.

Mr. Chavez's drive to centralize power has stoked worries of authoritarianism among some of his critics. Human Rights Watch recently issued a statement expressing worries about the independence of Venezuelan institutions such as the courts.

Jimmy Carter, still trying to foist unprincipled despots on unwilling electorates. Read this hilarious testimony to Jimmy Carter -- scroll to "His trip to Haiti..."

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