Archive for September 20th, 2005

Carter Baker report on elections generates anger and laughter in Caracas

September 20, 2005

All day in radio talk shows the news of
the contents of the Carter-Baker report on
elections caused hilarity, anger and spite against the former US President. I
had read about it early this morning
in PMBcomments, but
was surprised by its absence in any of the news media today. But radio talk
shows were having a ball at quoting straight from the report. This one
generated anger:

-Congress should pass a law requiring
that all voting machines be equipped with a voter-verifiable paper audit trail
and, consistent
with HAVA, be fully accessible
to voters with disabilities. This is especially important for direct recording
electronic (DRE) machines for four reasons:(a) to increase citizens’ confidence
that their vote will be counted accurately, (b) to allow for a recount, (c) to
provide a backup in cases of loss of votes due to computer malfunction, and (d)
to test — through a random selection of machines — whether the paper result is
the same as the electronic result.

While this one generated

-To undertake the new responsibilities recommended by this report and to build
confidence in the administration of elections, Congress and the states should
reconstitute election management institutions on a nonpartisan basis to make
them more independent and effective. U.S. Election Assistance Commission
members and each state’s chief elections officer should
be selected and be expected to act in a nonpartisan manner,
and the institutions should have sufficient funding for research and training
and to conduct the best elections possible. We believe the time has come to
take politics as much as possible out of the institutions of election
administration and to make these institutions nonpartisan.

This one made people wonder if it was the same Jimmy Carter that came to Venezuela to
oversee the recall vote:

States should adopt unambiguous procedures
to reconcile any disparity between the electronic ballot tally and the paper
ballot tally.The
Commission strongly recommends that states determine well in
advance of elections
which will be the ballot of record.

While this one led them to conclude it had to be a different guy:

-State and local election authorities should publicly
test all types of voting machines before, during, and after Election Day and
allow public observation
of zero machine counts at the start of Election Day and
the machine certification process

And how about this one, where was Carter last year in August 14th.? He
certainly did not have this access and neither did even the members of the
Electoral Board that were not pro-Chavez.

-All legitimate domestic and international election observers should be
granted unrestricted access to the election process, provided that they accept
election rules, do not interfere with the electoral process, and respect the
secrecy of the ballot. Such observers should apply for accreditation, which
should allow them to visit any polling station in any state and to view all
parts of the election process, including the testing of voting equipment, the
processing of absentee ballots, and the vote count.

It was indeed weird to hear all these
wise remarks from the same guy that certified the results of the Venezuela
recall last year, without any of the above conditions being met at all. In fact
NONE of the above was even closely satisfied.

But that’s Jimmy for you.

A day of protests and threats against private property

September 20, 2005

was a day of protests in Venezuela today
, curiously none of it organized by
the so-called opposition, but by various groups with grievances against the
Government. Chavez was hit hard by the protests as three different groups blocked
the access to the headquarters of the Corporacion Venezolana de Guayana. Chavze
went there to “hand out” Government loans to the Venalum corporation, one of
the Government owned aluminum companies that is now under management by its
personnel. Chavez had to be taken by helicopter to the plant as the
roads around Ciudad Guayana collapsed

There were
nominally four different groups protesting independently. Steel workers were
protesting that they have not been paid the dividends on the shares of Sidor
that they own, despite the promises by the Minister of Basic Industries that
they would be paid. Separately, workers of the aluminum industry who can not
work due to work related injuries also held a protest. The third group was
composed of Venalum and Alcasa’s retired personnel asking for speed in the decision
on an injunction they requested 40 days ago. Finally, there were protests over the
problems with water supply to the homes in the area.

there were protests in Caracas
by medical doctors against the health bill being considered by the National
Assembly and in Vargas state by street vendors who were protesting mistreatment
by the police.

But none
of this seemed to affect Chavze who
gave a fiery speech
, telling the Governors and Mayors to expropriate any
empty lots in the cities that are not being used. Chavez said that they should
stop the practice of buying urban land and letting it simply sit there in order
to sell it later at a higher price. Chávez also attacked the private sector
saying that those that don’t like his policies should “go to Miami” leaving their plants and machinery
behind. He backed the seizure of a farm which he claims is owned by the
Government while the owners claim otherwise and said he would hold his Sunday
program from that farm next Sunday. He also said he had until the year 2030 to
convince people of the advantages of socialism. Curiously, he suggested that he
was a “new” convert to the concept of socialism, which was not clarified.