It has always been the role of the military in Venezuelan elections to protect the integrity of the “electoral material”, that is the military operation surrounding the elections always called “Plan Republica” has been limited to proetcting the material that goes from the CNE to the voting center, protecting the centers and then at the end, protecting the boxes with the votes (who knows what for given the use that has been given them). This has always created conflicts as different military officers have interpreted their mandate differently. Because people are easily intimidated by a soldier with a rifle, over the last four decades, this role has been better defined, in order to protect the voters. The line has always been drawn at the military will not get involved in any stage of the voting process or organization.
In the RR, however, the military took too active a role, in my opinion violating both the spirit and the letter of the law. Despite the fact that the tally at the end was public, it was precisely armed military with guns that stopped people from entering voting centers. The same happened in the regional elections when Governors and Mayors were elected in 2004.
This November, there will be a special election for Mayor of the Miranda municipality in Trujillo state and the regulations for the procedures at that election were published. And Art. 7 says “Plan Republica will aid in guaranteeing that all voters stop at the fingerprint machines to capture their fingerprint and that no voter enters the voting booth without passing by the fingerprint capture system”
Thus, add intimidation to an already intimidating factor, in what should be a voluntary process to which people should go freely, openly and happily. That is the concept of choice and democracy this Government has. If they apply this same concept in the December Presidential election, this will simply promote more abstention and go against promoting democracy.
Meanwhile, the President of the CNE announced the new harebrained scheme to promote young people to register: The CNE will raffle PC’s and iPods among those new voters that register to vote. Somehow I think that a PC and an iPod must be the last ambition of 80% of Venezuela’s young, given the precarious economic condition they face in their everyday life. This seems to be a very inconsistent plan with the goals of the “pretty” revolution, it seems to come from a “putrified” middle class mind. However, keep in mind that for most people in Venezuela’s middle class an iPod is too expensive an item to even consider it.