The final trick?

May 1, 2004

When the final draft of the regulations for the process for ratifying the signatures came out, I was mystified by the sudden reduction of five days to three days for the process despite the fact that the regulations clearly said that it should take five days. Moreover, arguing that the first and last days were for setting up and dismantling the polling stations seemed to be so absurd as to be ridiculous.


The question was how was this going to be used to trick us, after all, if we manage to get 3.4 million signatures in five days, it should be a piece of cake to ratify 1.2 million in three. This is in fact what the CNE has been arguing all along, that three days with the proposed set up should be more than enough.


 


But an ad in today’s newspaper may be a hint of what the Chavistas are planning. The candidate for Mayor of Chacao for Chavez’ MVR published an ad in today’s El Nacional (page A-13) that says:


 


“Alert Alert Alert


 


I convoke all Venezuelans to massively go to the Centers for Ratification nearest to their home to verify THAT YOUR NAME NOT BE USED ILLEGALY


 


Careful not adding yourself to the Fraud


 


Let’s all go, with our ID card and let us not trust the lists which may be false”


 


Thus, the trick may simply be to have thousands of Chavistas going around the polling stations getting in line just to clog up the lines. They would line up simply to check what the status of their signature is. Once past the line, they would go back in line or to a different center and do it again and again.


 


If this is done, it would be impossible for the polling stations to handle the flow of the number of people that would show up. If the Chavistas paid 50,000 of their supporters to do this all three days, it would be the equivalent of 50,000 x 3 x 5 times a day=750,000 people going to ratify their signatures. Add to that 80,000 that go to withdraw theirs under pressure and 800,000 that go to ratify and you get 1.63 million people over the three days for a process designed to handle 1-1.1 million people with difficulty. Obviously, people would get frustrated, not everyone would be able to ratify their signature and the opposition would fail in its attempt to get the recall referendum. We will all be home watching this and saying once again: “This can’t be, this can’t be, this can’t be” but guess what? It will be…


 


I don’t know if this is what they have in mind, but it makes too much sense.

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