Archive for November 20th, 2003

CNE walking a fine line

November 20, 2003

The decisions by the Consejo Nacional Electoral are much like many of the strategies of Chavez and his Government: the Electoral body continues to walk on a fine line that divides legality with their own political bias towards Hugo Chavez. After their atrocious decision to not allow Venezuelans abroad to sign the petition drive against Hugo Chavez, the CNE continued its handiwork, this time issuing regulations on advertising during the petition drive that essentially limit severely even the right to free speech, while saying nothing of Chavez’ ability to address the nation for hours, like he did on Wednesday when he spoke twice for as long as four hours, which he used to attack the opposition and accuse it of plotting this “oligarchic” coup by calling for a recall referendum. Meanwhile, opposition parties were limited to two minutes of advertising a day, which Chavez’ MVR wanted to apply to all of the opposition. Thus, life continued in Venezuela with this amazing virtual reality in which people’s rights are being violated daily but it is all regulated by the CNE which seems to receive some form of divine inspiration from the presidential palace. As if this were not enough, the Minister of Defense announces that the voting process will be supervised by 72,000 soldiers, ten times what has ever been used in Venezuela, making us wonder whether they are there to intimidate, protect or create violence. Hugo Chavez continued in his Jekyll and Hyde act, at times sounding conciliatory, only to attack the opposition hours later with the same litany of worn out accusations against those that are only following the rules created by Chavez’ own Constitution. At times, it did seem as if Chavez really does not believe the opposition will be capable of gathering the required signatures, but the math is so simple that there is simply no way from stopping it from gathering as many as 3.5 signatures in the petition. But the CNE’s regulations say that for next month nothing can be said, published or polled on what people did on November 28th. , making the “right to know” also guaranteed by the Chavez Constitution somewhat of a sham. But so is everything surrounding this petition drive, as people are being paid to sign up in the Chavista petition drive this weekend and oil workers are being told to leave their national identity cards at work next weekend when the opposition holds its own drive. But in the end it will not matter, the opposition will get the signatures and next March, the vote will be secret, the observers will come in the thousands and Chavez will have to change his strategy. Since he and his comrades have no scruples, you can be sure it will not be a pleasant  one.