The discussion of the regulations for the referendum which I dubbed the Big rip off yesterday, were postponed until next Monday “to allow for the comments and criticisms to reach the CNE” according to the President of that institution Francisco Carrasquero. This is a result of the outrage (with and without the prefix “out”) of the opposition, over the attempt to use the regulations to slow down the process.
According to the illustrious President of the CNE, criticism of the CNE’s lawyer, who is known to be very pro-Chavez, is unjustified as this simply represents a proposal, subject to change and discussion. Well, either Mr. Carrasquero thinks we are stupid or he is. First of all, most members of Chavez’ MVR have supported the regulations fully, saying that they are “just” or that they can be approved with minor modifications as was stated by Jorge Rodriguez today, one of the pro-Chavez members of the CNE. Second, if I were Mr. Carrasquero, I would fire the CNE’s lawyer. The reason is simple, according to Teodoro Petkoff (who is a member of the advisory Board to the CNE appointed by the Supreme Court) in his Tal Cual Editorial, as many as 12 of the articles of the regulation contain violations of the Constitution or the Law, including numerous violations of the “LOPA”, the “Ley Organica de Procedimientos Administrativos” which regulates how every single request and procedure of the Government has to be handled by every single Government office. Thus, if the CNE’s lawyer does not even know these basic laws, how can he be expected to advise, write and participate in the preparation of such an important law by the CNE?
But we would have to be very naïve to think that the lawyer for the CNE went on his own and wrote this abominable draft for the regulations without consulting anyone. The philosophy behind the proposal was clearly to impede the recall from taking place. No petition for a referendum in Venezuela or anywhere in the world is handled by the electoral authority like the regulations propose. No referendum, in Venezuela or anywhere in the world, bans the initiating petition from being taken from home to home as a way of gathering more signatures. No referendum petition ever, has been handled as if it were the final election like these regulations attempt to do. The real and important act is the vote for the recall, not the petition requesting it. It is that day that things matter. What is obvious is that since Chavez and his cronies know that there is no way in Hell that they may win the recall, they are simply trying to block, tackle, mutilate, maim and castrate any attempt by the opposition to submit a valid request for a recall referendum. And that was what the CNE’s lawyer attempted to do, coached by someone from Chavez’ MVR clearly with Mr. Carrasquero’s knowledge, since he defended it so strongly.
While I do not have time to translate it tonight, there is a very funny article by Elides J. Rojas in today’s El Universal with a preposterous parody with a set of regulations for referenda which I recommend to those that understand Spanish. Rojas’ proposed Article 1. should be enough to get the gist of it:
Article 1. The following types of organizations are prohibited to participate in the gathering of signatures: Political parties, civilian organizations of any nature, unions, professional or employer’s associations, companies, sports teams, media or neighborhood associations.
The rest is equally funny and ludicrous, in fact so much, that it reminded me of the real proposal as presented yesterday.