29 November 2005

Is Primero Justicia in bed with Chavez?

29.11.05 | Translation of Primero Justicia (PJ): Justice First. Grasp the message behind the name; Justice above all else. In a surprisingly unexpected move major parties Accion Democratica (AD) and COPEI announced yesterday that they were to withdraw their candidates from the Assembly vote to be held on Sunday. PJ yuppies have suddenly become electoral transparency bearers; the scandal produced by the finding that the Smartmatic machines do keep the sequence of the vote was revealed by a PJ technician. In spite of that schocking discovery, PJ continues in the race.

On the other side of the divide we have an Hugo Chavez growing desperate for the latest mishaps of his henchmen. Just to give the most notorious example, the revelation that Jorge Rodriguez much touted electronic voting machines are configured in a way that permits electoral authorities (CNE) to establish the sequence of the vote, that when accompanied, either by fingerprint catching devices or electronic notebooks can, in fact, do away with the secrecy of the vote. Nonetheless it is matter of urgency for Chavez to get the thin veneer of democracy that Sunday's elections will provide. If all parties withdraw from the race, Hugo Chavez won't score democratic points.

To say that the CNE has violated every electoral law in the land is an understatement. The very appointment of the current electoral board was illegal. Venezuelan legislation and rules regulating electoral processes have being systematically impinged, ergo the conditions for the realization of a transparent election are not in place.

Yet, and despite all the irregularities denounced by themselves, Justice (?) First of all parties, continues stubbornly in the race. Hence I ask myself: will Justice (?) First give Chavez another democratic layer? At what cost to Venezuela? Is Justice in bed with Chavez?

Addendum: Sources in Caracas report that the OAS observation mission is trying to get political parties to sign an agreement whereby strict observance to electoral legislation is not demanded, by opposition parties, as condition to participate in Sunday's elections.