…has deployed massively now that the month-long Christmas and New Year’s Holidays are over in Venezuela.
Today is not over, and so far three senior government officials have held televised press conferences to trash the political opposition, assure viewers the country is massively supporting President Hugo Chavez’s bid to reform the constitution to allow his perpetual re-election, and dismiss calls for a transparent review of the allegedly more than 5.5 million signatures by registered Venezuelan voters in support of the planned constitutional referendum.
Jesse Chacon, who got his butt whipped justly in last November’s regional elections thanks mainly to “chavistas” fed up with their leader’s abuses, called a presser to provide “details” of the allegedly secret meeting in Puerto Rico last week between a group of opposition leaders and the commercial attaché at the US Embassy in Caracas, John Patrick Caulfield.
Chacon’s “proof” included an alleged e-mail allegedly sent by Globovision owner Alberto Federico Ravell to oppo leaders Julio Borges of Primero Justicia, Henry Ramos Allup of Accion Democratica, Omar Barboza of Un Nuevo Tiempo, and Luis Ignacio Planas of Copei, advising them that “a friend from the embassy” would travel to Puerto Rico a day before the group was scheduled to meet.
How did Chacon come by this alleged e-mail? Several possibilities.
Government-owned CANTV hacks Ravell’s e-mail accounts, the government has moles close to Ravell inside Globovision, the government has hacked and infiltrated the e-mail accounts and offices of the other opposition leaders, Chavez has spies inside the US Embassy, or perhaps the e-mail was simply invented by the government.
Chacon claims the group met secretly in san Juan to discuss how to prepare a strategy costing $3 million to influence Venezuelan public opinion to vote againt the proposed constitutional reform that would allow Chavez to seek re-election forever.
The National Electoral Council (CNE) should ask the group where they expected to get $3 million, Chacon said, adding, “Where does that leave the media’s (Globovision) function of informing the public, if its director is part of a political tendency?”
Say what? Chacon’s presser certainly qualifies as bullshit, as we explained the philosophical meaning of the word in a previous post. For those unfamiliar with Bolivarian Venezuela, Globovision is the only independent television channel still broadcasting on open bandwitdth. Everything else has been taken over by the Chavez government.
The second televised press conference was held by Jorge Rodriguez, the psychiatrist and former CNE president who was elected Mayor of Libertador District in Caracas last November. Rodriguez also heads the Simon Bolivar Commando campaign organization gathering signatures nationally to support the proposed constitutional referendum.
There is no conflict of interest, of course, since Rodriguez is a senior leader of Chavez’s PSUV party whose Bolivarian bona fides and unquestioning obedience to the president are completely above reproach.
Rodriguez claims over 5.5 million signatures of registered voters who support the proposed referendum have been obtained. Interestingly, these alleged signatures have not been verified independently, and no one has actually seen all of the signed petitions.
The PSUV made a big public show of marching to the National Assembly in December with hundreds of boxes allegedly filled with signed petitions, but sources in the know tell Caracas Gringo that most of the boxes held unsigned reams of paper. However, Rodriguez claims that critics of the constitutional reform process are “sowing lies and deceit.”
He also says the Simon Bolivar Commando will audit the signed petitions internally and subsequently deliver the audited results to the CNE.
What? The PSUV is auditing itself? Whatever happened to the CNE’s constitutional mandate and its legal authority to verify the signed petitions with CNE-controlled auditing processes which are supposed to be open to duly designated representatives of all political organizations?
Apparently the PSUV is exempted from compliance with the CNE’s constitutionally and legally-mandated rules.
President Chavez will meet this week with the Simon Bolivar Commando to prepare the “machinery” required to win the constitutional reform referendum, said Rodriguez. Conflict of interest, anyone?
Rodriguez also demanded that Globovision register with the CNE as a political party if it plans to campaign editorially against the constitutional referendum. And as soon as Globovision registers, the CNE then could demand the TV station’s financial records to determine where its funding comes from and whether it is “legitimate,” added Rodriguez.
However, is state-owned Venezolana de Television, which broadcasts Mario Silva’s disgusting ‘talk show,’ registered as a political party with the CNE? Of course not.
The Bolivarian Bullshit Brigade’s third televised presser on January 12 was called by CNE Rector Sandra Oblitas Ruzza, who rejected calls by independent groups for the CNE to open up its electoral registry to verify the number of registered voters, and to confirm whether the alleged signed petitions match the CNE’s records.
The CNE will use the electoral registry as of December 11, 2008 – totaling 16,949,000 registered voters – as the basis for the upcoming constitutional referendum, she said.
“The CNE is capable of conducting a transparent and trustworthy electoral process, and we will open up the registry at the moment it becomes necessary to initiate the (electoral activities) of 2009,” Oblitas Ruzza concluded. Yeah, right.
Democratic President-elect Barack Obama is taking power in just over a week.
This implies that Democratic “experts” on Latin America like Arturo Valenzuela, Michael Shifter and the Inter-American Dialogue soon will be back in the loop, presumably with direct high-level access to Hillary Clinton’s State Department, plus Obama’s White House and National Security Council.
So the obvious question, Arturo and Michael, is:
Why aren’t you raising the alarm about Chavez’s destruction of Venezuela’s democratic institutions, his systematic abuse of Venezuela’s constitution and electoral laws, and while we’re at it, his deliberate efforts to destabilize every legitimate democratic institution in Latin America?
Too busy, perhaps, seeking Latin America policy jobs in the Obama administration?
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