And Teodoro Petkoff responds to the press conference by General Gonzalez Gonzalez:
Sr. General Gonzalez Gonzalez, you responded to our editorial yesterday, addressed, by the way, very respectfully to your person. I am not going to lower myself to the same level you invite me to, which is to disqualify and insult. You pointed me out as a “liar” , as a “deserter” and accused me to be “at the service of treason and anti-homeland”.
You qualified our paper as “junky paper” and a “pamphlet. A curious pamphlet this one which has deserved the honor of a public response from you, accompanied by a group of high officials and the Vice President, from no other place than the Miraflores Palace itself. I thank you for the honor and I am sorry that you spiced it up with personal adjectives that have nothing to do with the problem. With that, you lost, not me. The tone of our Editorial was inviting a serious response, because it is far from our mind to attack the Armed Forces, but it is to point out, side by side with the acknowledgment we made of the “impeccable behavior” of the majority of the the officials of Plan Republica, those cases which are not few, in which officials assumed in recent electoral processes, behavior that is contrary to what it is said in the Constitution and the laws that guide the Plan Republica.
Allow me to ratify such cases because they are true. Moreover, you yourself stated that supposedly, it would be the role of the military to “revise credentials” of witnesses and members of the electoral polls. Well, you are wrong, Sr. General. The revision of the credentials of witnesses and members of polling tables is the exclusive competence of the personnel of those poling stations, which are all civilians. The Suffrage law establishes clearly that the members of the Armed Forces as part of the Plan Republica have no other purpose but to maintain public order. The law does not give them the attribute you refer to of verifying credentials and determining who may be or not be a witness. That is the exclusive attribute of the President and the members of the polling table. We repeat: You were wrong on that.
We ratify, Sr. General, that there were cases in which electoral polls that had reached closing time without the presence of voters in line and thus should close down the voting process, were forced to and/or there were attempts to force them to remain open, in some cases, to give time so that voters transported by Chavez’ party could arrive. Indeed, Sr. General, as you said, it is only the competence of the Electoral Board (CNE) to establish extensions to the voting process, not the Armed Forces, but unfortunately there were cases in which some officials took that attribute upon themselves and pretended to decide up to what time such polling tables should be opened. You were right, Sr. General, when you said that once a polling table is closed down, within the legal schedule, it can not be reopened. Unfortunately, Sr. General, there were cases in which some officials pretended to (and in some cases they managed it) open the polling stations that had been closed after the time was past and with no voters in line, so that a group of voters transported in a rush by activists of the ruling party coul cast their ballot. All of these cases were denounced to the Electoral Board.
It seems to us Sr. General, that to point out these irregularities not only does not constitute an “attack” on the Armed Forces, but it should have been received as a contribution so that the role of the armed forces is not distorted by some officials that assume the position of political parties, which are constitutionally banned to the armed forces.
Finally Sr. General, I would like you to show Venezuelans in which article of the Constitution it says of the Aremd Forces that “it is at the service of the revolution”, as you allowed yourself to ascertain. I am sorry, but Article 328 of the Constitution says in extremely clear fashion that “In the fullfillment of its functions (The Armed Forces) are at the exclusive service of the Nation and in no case at the service of a person or any political partiality“