Archive for September 15th, 2003

Recall rulings in California and Venezuela: Very similar yet so different

September 15, 2003


I am sure that some people will try to draw parallels between the three judge panel  canceling the California recall and the decisions taken in Venezuela to block the recall referendum. To me it simply shows that the same biased, partial and corrupt judges and politicians exist all over the world. In fact, the California decision is as absurd as the ones here. Among other reasons:


-If the voting machines are not good enough for the vote on the recall, they should not be good enough to vote on anything, whether candidates or issues until the problems are solved. Thus no election should take place until it is fixed. But this does not make sense either.


-Should Democracy be in suspended animation until the problems are solved? For how long? When is form more important than substance? When should the will of the people be more important?


-The three Judge panel is composed of three Democrats and is supposed to be the most liberal (read pro-Democratic party) in the US. And we thought we had it bad here in Venezuela with the Electoral Board being three to two against us.


-I would like to ask: Are these the same voting machines with  which Davies was chosen as a candidate for the Democrats and was later elected as Governor? Did anybody complain then? Should his elections be erased too in the interest of Justice or Democracy?


-I hate to be innovative or futuristic, but couldn’t they use something like pencil and paper to vote with? Too complicated? People don’t know how to write anymore? People can cheat with paper ballots?


I think in the end the difference is very clear, in every country there are biased, politically corrupt people or individuals with a limited understanding of what democracy truly is. Form can never replace substance and the people’s participation is indeed at the conceptual foundation of Democracy. The difference is that while Democracy has been suspended in Venezuela since January 23d. of this year, I will bet that a quick solution is found to the California problem short term by a system that still functions. People are the same all over, the difference is that in California the system still has checks and balances. Here we don’t, in Venezuela all we have is the citizens fighting for their freedom versus a system that only responds to the whims of one power hungry person. By this time next year, Californians may not even remember this episode, we Venezuelans may not be able vote for years to come……As simple as that.

Can we submit another request for a recall referendum?

September 15, 2003

Some Chavista officials, including Minister of Education Aristobulo Isturiz and Deputy Cilia Flores made statements last Friday that if the CNE rejected the request for the recall referendum on the part of the opposition, then the opposition would not be able to submit another request because Article 72 of the Venezuelan Constitution says that only one request for a recall can be introduced during the period of an elected official. This has created a lot of frustration and uncertainty within the opposition, and I have even heard people saying that why should they waste their time if the new request might be rejected. (I fault the press partially for this, as the questioning by these ignorant Government officials was quickly propagated by some equally ignorant reporters). This issue was indeed clarified by the Venezuelan Supreme Court on June 2nd. 2002 in a decision that leaves very little room for interpretation. Here is the text, the highlights are mine, in both Spanish and my very liberal English translation (more so when it is a judicial decision). Please distribute it by e-mail so that people are aware of it:

“Igualmente, estima esta Sala desacertado el planteamiento efectuado por los recurrentes, cuando solicitaron se interpretara el último aparte del artículo 72 de la Constitución, con respecto a que “no podrá hacerse más de una solicitud de revocación”, por cuanto pese a que insisten en que ha surgido en ellos la duda interpretativa, lo cierto es que se advierte que la referida solicitud de interpretación constitucional no se apega a los lineamientos establecidos por la jurisprudencia antes transcrita. Al respecto, considera la Sala que el último aparte de la disposición mencionada es claro y preciso, y no posee ninguna contradicción o ambigüedad, toda vez que cuando establece que en todo caso no puede hacerse más de una solicitud de revocación del mandato durante el período para el cual fue elegido el funcionario o funcionaria, es palmario que se refiere a que dicha solicitud haya sido efectuada en cumplimiento de los requerimientos que la propia norma constitucional exige y, por ende, declarada su procedencia por el órgano electoral, dado que la solicitud que no reúna esos requisitos, no produce efectos ni puede considerarse válida y, menos aún, como impedimento o límite para la recepción y tramitación de una nueva solicitud de convocatoria a referéndum revocatorio. En definitiva, el límite que la norma establece se halla en que se celebre o active sólo un referéndum revocatorio para el mismo funcionario y en el mismo mandato. Por consiguiente, estima la Sala que la solicitud planteada en el sentido señalado no es susceptible de interpretación alguna, resultando de esta manera improcedente el recurso de interpretación constitucional en cuanto a dicha pretensión se refiere, y así se declara.”

Liberal English Translation:

Similarly, this Hall considers incorrect the proposition made by the plaintifs, when they  requested that we interpret the last part of Article 72 of the Constitution with respect to whether “no more than one request can be made for a recall referendum”, because even if they insist that there is a doubt in interpretation, the truth is that the request for a constitutional interpretation does not fulfill the requirements established by prior jurisprudence. To that effect the Hall considers that the last part of the article is clear and precise and has no contradiction or ambiguity, because when it establishes that no more than one request for a recall referendum may be made during the period for which the official is elected to, it is clear that it refers to the fact that such a request has been made  fulfilling  the regulations that the Constitutional norm requires and thus has been accepted by the electoral board, since a request that does not fulfill the requirements, produces no effects nor can be considered valid, even less is an impediment or limit to process a new request for a recall referendum. In concluding, the limit that the norm establishes is in that only one recall referendum be activated or take place for the same elected official in the same period. Thus, the request is not susceptible to be interpreted …”


Thus any other interpretation seems to me be absolutely out of the question. Pass it on!


(Even the foreign press has fallen for the Chavista line, as reported by the LA Times, sent in by Russel)