2 December 2005

On OAS flawed hypothesis: Venezuela's electoral boycott explained

02.12.05 | Diplomatic sources in Caracas report about an opinion trend that appears to be gathering force. The "electoral boycott" hypothesis, peddled by Venezuela's officialdom and its OAS sidekicks, has it that the decision of opposition political parties to withdraw from Assemblymen elections on December 4 constitutes, at best, a "boycott" and at worse "an electoral coup." Chavez opponents also stand accused of having, irresponsibly, broken an agreement with the OAS whereby participation in the race was a given. Let me be real clear about the reason that prompted such a reaction by the opposition. On Wednesday 23 an audit was conducted in Fila de Mariches. OAS and European observers were invited and so were Smartmatic representatives, National Electoral Council (CNE) officials, political parties and local electoral watchdog (NGO Ojo Electoral). A cocky omnipotent Jorge Rodriguez saw fit to allow the audit in the conviction that it would be just another embarrasing event for the opposition. Up until that moment fraud accusations held no water. But as Olga K reported in "The man Smartmatic wasn't expecting," Leopoldo Gonzalez pulled fraud evidence out of the hat for all to see.

Leopoldo Gonzalez is a name that is going to go down in Venezuelan history. After each of the aforementioned observers and guests had selected their prefered option in the mock election of Wednesday 23, this man ran a programme on a computer and started announcing in loud voice: Mr. X you have voted for Y; Mr. T you have voted for M; Mrs. R you have voted for L... Olga K reports that Smartmatic officials were so embarrased that they brought the exercise to a halt after the result of the fifth name was announced by Gonzalez.

Now, with Gonzalez's demonstration as precedent, why is the OAS trying to force parties to continue in the race? Why the unfounded "boycott" accusations? How can diplomats entertain the "electoral coup" argument? Political parties certainly had agreed to participate, but only amoral and anti-democratic individuals can ignore the fact that Smartmatic machines keep the sequence of the vote, therefore the CNE is uncapable of guaranteeing a transparent process for the secrecy of the vote can be revealed with absolute certainty, as demonstrated by Leopoldo Gonzalez. This is the crux of the opposition's withdrawal en masse, for it altered the dynamics of the race. However should the OAS role be to point fingers to culpables parties, why not starting with the CNE? After the recall referendum of 2004, the Carter Center produced a report that contained a series of recommendations to CNE authorities made jointly with the OAS. Among which:

Recommendation: An external, third party audit should be performed on the REP. This should be done prior to the next election, and an analysis of the alleged voter “migration” should be implemented.

Recommendation: The voting process, whether or not it includes automated voting machines, must be streamlined and procedures put into place to allow voters to vote more expeditiously.

Recommendation: To increase confidence in automated voting machines, a successful election day audit after closing (a count of paper receipts immediately after the close of the polls) must be performed during the next election. The size and procedures of this audit should be decided by the CNE in consultation with the political parties well before the regional elections. The tally sheets (actas) should be printed before transmission to avoid suspicion or possibility of central computers giving instructions to the machines. All software and other related certifications should be observed by political parties and should receive independent, third party certification.

None of the suggestions made have been taken on board or implemented by the CNE, yet OAS officials have the nerve of blaming opposition parties for having withdrawn from a process that is completely rigged and, above all else, lacking any semblance of transparency. So here's a question for OAS's Ruben Perina, since his boss -Secretary Insulza- sought to distance himself from the pathetic way in which Perina is conducting affairs in Venezuela; why are you siding with an undemocratic regime hellbent in celebrating elections under fraudulent circumstances?

Another aspect I fail to comprehend is the silence of 'tough talker' Teodoro Petkoff. Mind you he is part of the local NGO (Ojo Electoral) that witnessed the audit conducted in Mariches, where they saw how rigged the machines are. How come he has not published a list of names of attendees? Venezuela and the world needs to be informed about such trascendental matters, so that personal and institutional responsibilities can be established.

To conclude some quarters in Venezuela are reporting that file and rank chavistas are provoking people, seeking confrontation and violence. The time for all democracy-loving Venezuelans to ignore the incendiary rethoric of Hugo Chavez and his thuggish collaborators has come. It is imperative that the institution with the highest level of credibility in the country, i.e. the Church, steps up to the plate in order to placate emotions.

The Emperor has no clothes!!

29 November 2005

Electoral troubles in Venezuela: Political Parties withdraw candidates en masse

29.11.05 | All the major political parties have announced withdrawal from the electoral race of next Sunday, in which Venezuelans would choose Assemblymen. Accion Democratica, COPEI, Fuerza Liberal, Polo Democratico, Venezuela de Primera, Movimiento Republicano, Vision Emergente, CausaR and Proyecto Venezuela have made clear that under the present conditions they will not participate in electoral processes. It appears that only Primero Justicia, MAS and Rosales' Nuevo Tiempo are still willing to take part, although Descifrado has reported that Primero Justicia is having second thoughts about participating.

Sources in Caracas are sending shocking reports. Primero Justicia could have reached a pact with the Chavez regime: electoral participation in exchange to exempt party leaders from future prosecution -on treason charges that the regime could present against some of them, in particular against Gerardo Blyde.

OAS representatives trying to force on the political parties some sort of agreement whereby these would not demand electoral authorities, read Jorge Rodriguez, full compliance with current legislation. In their skewed view Sunday's election must take place no matter what. This has angered people so much that a rally to protest their odd behaviour and to demand cease and leave has been organized for tomorrow.

Then USAID representatives are meant to be encouraging some political parties to participate whilst promoting abstention to discourage others.

European observers are dumbfounded not knowing what to do. However the generalised impression is that, in spite of the many irregularities that they have witnessed, they will not take a principled stance on any issue.

Some polls are pointing to an up to 90% abstention level. Accion Democratica, is purportedly the first party to take into account what the base is saying.

Students are reportedly rioting in Merida, Valencia and Barquisimeto. A blogger living near Palo Negro -military air base- reported F-16s taking off.

To conclude with news from officialdom, the CNE cancelled its board meeting of the day and Interior Minister Jessy Chacon has threatened parties saying that regardless of political colours, those seeking to torpedo the elections shall face consequences.

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.

Chavez gives Venezuela - USA relations another blow

29.11.05 | Hugo Chavez's spinmeisters love to sing the mantra "Venezuela wants to have the most cordial relations with the USA, based in mutual respect and understanding..." Well, how does the barring a BIPARTISAN US Congressional Delegation, from entering Venezuela, bodes with the aforementioned predicament?

It was not enough, for Chavez, to have orchestrated with Kirchner, riots and the subsequent media attack on Bush in Mar del Plata. Nor it was sufficient for him to call President Fox a "lapdog of the empire" -one has to love the irony in light of the dynamics of the Castro-Chavez marriage... Now the seudo revolutionary pariah has upped the ante by refusing entry to the Hyde-Lantos delegation, that surely was organized in advance by the terribly efficient Bernardo Alvarez Herrera and his VIO boys.

To me this is but another proof of Chavez's evident disregard for diplomacy and friendship, for let us not forget that most of the passengers of that plane simpathise overtly or covertly with the Venezuelan would-be dictator.

Surely, it is to be expected that some stupid airport official will be blamed for this. Or else the barring shall be attributed to some technicality. The fact of the matter is that a country that constantly brags about its intentions to repair relations with another, whilst subjects citizens from the latter to humiliations and harrassment, can not even pretend to be taken seriously. One has to hope that, after this incident, both Republicans and Democrats get to understand the meaning of friendship, according to the chavista abridged dictionary.

23 November 2005

Sao Paolo Forum: the backbone of communism & terrorism spread in Latin America

Aleksander Boyd interviews Olavo de Carvalho

21.11.05 | Recently I had the chance to spend some time with an extraordinary individual. Of Brazilian origin, this university professor, thinker, philosopher and self-made investigative journalist revealed a wholly unknown reality -for me at least- vis-a-vis the nature of the Sao Paolo Forum; its members and its carefully orchestrated political goals. Often one tends to incur in the mistake of judging situations isolatedly, which, according to Olavo de Carvalho, shows not only ignorance but naivete. Aghast with the wealth of knowledge that Olavo commands on Brazilian and regional politics, I intended to unravel through a series of questions the reasons behind the emergence of 'leftist' movements and leaders across Latin America. Olavo's take is factual, radical and very much detached from the usual nonsense that one encounters in the mainstream media. Hopefully readers of this site will find his opinions illuminating, as I did.

- Olavo, you contend that the neocommunist surge in Latin America is not a spontaneous phenomena but rather the result of the successful implementation of strategies devised by Antonio Gramsci. Could you please expand into the philosophical/political underpinnings of Gramsci's methodology?

Gramsci, side by side with the frankfurtians and the Hungarian philosopher Georg Lukacs, is one of the top masterminds of the so-called “cultural marxism”, which is not a school of thought but a bunch of heterogeneous proposals having in common the hate to Western civilization, and the belief that, the cultural war against it, should precede and guide the political fight for socialism. Somewhat cultural marxism is at the same time the apex of marxism and its nemesis. On the one hand, it delivers the marxist thought from the chains of soviet mediocre orthodoxy and provides it with a considerable amount of intellectual sophistication; on the other, it destroys from the inside the marxist doctrine of history, emphasizing the primacy of cultural factors over the economic ones. Economic arguments that occasionaly drop from the mouths of cultural marxists are but lip service they pay to communist tradition, but in the final practical account their inner belief is that “ideas have consequences”. They try to accomplish the practical goals of marxism by means that disavow its theory.

But while the aforementioned authors focused mainly in theoretical issues, Gramsci, who was the founder and leader of the Italian Communist Party, was interested above all in practical results. He created the strategy and the tactics of the “cultural revolution” that should pave the way for the seizure of State power by the communists. The cultural revolution should be a subtle and almost imperceptible transformation of the collective mind, intented to induce everybody to think, to feel and to act according to the tenets of socialism without being consciously socialists. Socialist symbols and values under some other name should be inocculated in the souls of people since early age. Disguised socialist influence should spread to every field of human social existence, including private life and the most intimate feelings. Child care, medicine, psychoterapy, religion and marriage counseling were preferential channels for the transmission of that influence. Christian churches, for instance, should not be criticized, but infiltrated in order to deprive them of their spiritual content and use them as megaphones for communist watchwords. At the same time, disguised communists should occupy all the posts in educational, cultural and media organizations, gradually and carefully expelling their opponents to the last man. Communist ideology should recast all the language of public conversations, in order to provide that every circulating opinion contributes unconsciously to communist-fabricated general results.

The perverted character of the whole scheme is clearly psychopatic, but so much dangerous at that. Gramsci was an admirer of Machiavelli and he believed that the Communist Party should be “The New Prince”, ruling over the whole of society “with the invisible and omnipresent authority of a categoric imperative, of a divine commandment” (sic). Only after acquiring such amount of psychological mastership over society should the Party try to conquer the State, at a time when the very possibility of finding some serious resistence was already eliminated.

- Can we assume that the weak footing upon which parties associated with pro-democracy, rule of law, decentralization and free markets values in the region is but the unconscious resultant of Gramsci's plan?

Of course. The cultural changes affect everyone far beyond the focus of its political beliefs. One may remain a conservative in politics while making so many little concessions in one's language, in one's morals, in one's general cultural outlook, that one's conservatism looses its emotional strenght and its capacity to fight. You may verify it yourself: while communists are free to preach today the same things they preached thirty years ago, with the only difference that they receive ever warmer welcomes in any elegant environment, conservatives that remain faithful to the ideals of Robert Taft or Barry Goldwater are blamed as extremists even by their fellow conservatives.

- To what extent Gramsci's theories resemble those of dictator Fidel Castro?

Fidel Castro comes from a different ideological background. He followed the old leninist strategy of the armed vanguard that seizes power by violence and creates a new society from the top. Only when he hit his head against the wall of limits opposed to the armed revolutionary spreading, in the 70’s, he had the joyful surprise to be informed that many of his fellows from other Communist parties in Latin America were already high in the practice of a new and smarter revolutionary technique. The defeat of the guerrillas was immediately followed by the general adoption of the Gramscian long term strategy, that obviously didn’t renounce to the use of violence but postponed it to a far better occasion. Castro welcomed the new strategy and adapted to it very efficiently. He managed to stop the guerrilla fighting and to make up Latin America communist parties to work along Gramscian guidelines. The reflux of the guerrilla movement was celebrated by almost every non-communist politician, journalist and businessman in Latin America as a sign of the “death of communism”. This mistake was due to the fact that these people cared only for the visible surface of political, military and economic facts, giving little or no attention to deep and large scale transformations in the social and cultural background that was precisely the chosen field for the expansion of communist activity at that time.

To be continued...

17 November 2005

Repercussions of a Chavez stacked Congress in Venezuela

16.11.05 | Very few people, if that, have commented about the repercussions that a Venezuelan National Assembly chocked full of chavistas will have for the region. To date most of the agreements into which Venezuela has entered are illegal for these have not been approved by the Assembly, as mandated in certain cases by the constitution. Article 25 of the chavista constitution reads:

Any act on the part of the Public Power that violates or encroaches upon the rights guaranteed by this Constitution and by law is null and void, and the civil servant/s ordering or implementing said act shall incur criminal, civil and administrative liability, as applicable in each case, with no defense on grounds of having followed the orders of a superior.

Thus, were Venezuela a functioning democracy, it would be perfectly legal, constitutional and easy, to nullify agreements, pacts, contracts or any other deal made to date by Hugo Chavez that are pernicious to the country. That, of course, is not the case for Hugo Chavez controls at will the oil income, the country's resources and all the branches of power are subjugated to his communist and stateless agenda. Instances whereby Chavez's dealmaking have been detrimental to our national interests are the purchase of bad debt from Argentina; the giving away oil-for-political-will; the arms build up, the alliance with the longest dictatorship of the Americas, the funding of revolutionary/terrorist movements across Latin America, etc. Taking the aforementioned into account, it came as a surprise that some of the beneficiaries of Chavez's largesse had not expressed the slightest desire to join his 'Bolivarian' alternative for the Americas. Furthermore, 28 COUNTRIES OUT OF 34 showed him the finger recently in Mar del Plata summit and buried his little revolutionary plan. What an ass and what a waste of our monies/resources.

Given that Fox from Mexico pitched hardball -offering to build refineries, electricity and gas networks in Central America- and led the pack of countries willing to continue negotiating the FTAA, Chavez -who lacked the courage to confront Fox when he was sitting right behind him in Mar del Plata- waited to get to Caracas to start insulting his Mexican counterpart. So typical Chavez... Fortunately Mexico behaved as any proud and sovereign nation would have done; recalled its ambassador to Venezuela, kicked the interventionist chavista Vladimir Villegas out of the country and its president said that the issue was closed. The best strategy, by far, to deal with neocommunist thugs like Chavez is simply to ignore their provocations, for it kills their ego.

Nevertheless Venezuela under Chavez advances inexorably to the next elections on December 4. Some weeks ago I heard straight from the electoral boss' mouth, aka Jorge Rodriguez, that cum 2006 all elections to be had in Venezuela will be completely independent from the technological point of view. During his speech in the Biometric's conference he mentioned repeatedly the "10 million" figure, which one has to assume will be the total number of voters in future elections to be divided between chavista and opposition forces. The chavista-controlled electoral council will not need to rig any election after the ruling by the Supreme Court in favour of the "Morochas" (slates). The historic sentence gave Chavez's MVR party the chance to present candidates uninominally and his parallel party UVE to fill slates. As a chavista sycophant put it "The MVR-UVE “twin” enabled pro-Chavez forces to win more seats than if voters had just voted for the MVR because winning MVR candidates would have counted against the proportional vote the party obtained. By running individual candidates on a different party ticket, pro-Chavez forces were able to win more seats than they otherwise would have."

It is a given that Chavez will win the 2/3 majority he needs to ammend all sorts of laws without too much of a hassle. Once that's achieved changes to the constitution ought to be expected, especially the striking of article 350:

The people of Venezuela, true to their republican tradition and their struggle for independence, peace and freedom, shall disown any regime, legislation or authority that violates democratic values, principles and guarantees or encroaches upon human rights.

Any regime, legislation or authority that violates democratic values, principles and guarantees or encroaches upon human rights? Isn't that a definition of the Chavez regime? In any case the repercussions for the region will be dire for from January onwards all revolutionary acts shall have the 'democratic' approval of the 'elected' lackeys of Hugo Chavez. There is gossip that the Venezuela-Cuba federation tops the legislative agenda. Chavez's power and control will grow exponentially; any resemblance to accountability shall perish. Venezuelan oil money will flood the terrorist and revolutionary movements of the continent. Drug trafficking will be bolstered. Expect an influx of undesirable elements -read terrorists- to land in the country -or be given Venezuelan citizenship as is often the case- to get provisioned and sent to other countries armed to the teeth. In sum, democracies in Latin America will be dealt with a tremendous blow on December 4th 2005, which some of them shall not withstand. 500+ million people will suffer the consequences of Hugo Chavez's megalomania.

Senator Dick Lugar referred recently to the country as "unreliable suppliers such as Venezuela" (sic). The term unreliable, an understatement, need be applied not only to energy issues but to democratic ones.

26 October 2005

An encounter with Venezuela's electoral chief Jorge Rodriguez

London 20.10.05 | A friend called my attention a few days ago to a closing keynote speech "Biometric voter authentication - one voter - one vote" that was to be given today by Jorge Rodriguez, President, National Electoral Council (CNE), Venezuela, in the Biometrics 2005 Conference & Exhibition. So I got on the phone and called the organizers of the event to request permission to ask a couple of questions to Jorge Rodriguez in a gag law free environment. They were most cordial and certainly very helpful. After chatting to Mark Lockie I learned that Rodriguez would travel to the UK on Monday, so the agreement was for me to draft a couple of questions to be sent for approval, by both Mark and Cogent System representatives, given the technical nature of the conference. Everything was done according to plan, but then yesterday I saw Jorge Rodriguez on Venezuelan TV. Called the organizers again to communicate the news and not until 2PM today did I receive confirmation that Mr. Rodriguez would attend (his presentation was at 4.45PM).

Jumped on my bicycle and made my way to Queen Elizabeth Conference Centre. I asked one the ladies at the registration booths for Mark; having been told that he was extremely busy I decided to go for a cup of coffee and sort of hover around the entrance to catch Mr. Rodriguez on the way in. Only few minutes had passed when Mark called me and since I was just across the street I got back quickly to meet him. To be frank it gave the impression that he was actually threatened by my presence, not because I could physically harm him or anything but, probably, due to the information that some people may have given about me. One of the things that surprised me was a remark of his along the lines of "oh Cogent Systems knows about you..." I expressed my doubts regarding the feasibility of Rodriguez making it on time, unless traveling in private jet, to which he assured me that he was already in the country practicing his spiel. Anyway I gave him assurances that I was not there to create any problems or disrupt in any manner the conference. On the contrary I only wanted to ask the previously forwarded questions. Luckily he let me in.

Got into the third floor were biometrics latest stuff was in display in different stands. As I walked into one of the corridors I heard a group of Venezuelans saying "hay que estar mosca porque hay un tipo que viene a buscarle peo a Jorge" [we must be watchful for there's guy coming to have problems with Jorge (Rodriguez)]. Quite a fame, eh? I thought about telling them that I was actually the troublemaker but that would have ruined the surprise factor. Anyway as I was talking to a friend Jorge Rodriguez in the flesh approached me, introduced himself very politely and said "Aleksander Boyd? I understand you want to ask me some questions in the Q&A session?" I said indeed. "That's not a problem" he said. "Great, I shall see you in there then" I replied.

The presentation started. Rodriguez gave abundance of technical facts about the way in which the whole electronic voting system was implemented in the country and commented that his background in psychiatry has served him very well to maneuver in the highly polarized political arena of Venezuela. Laughter. The bidding process -to acquire the fingerprints machines- was intense, according to him. Not only had the CNE purchased the machines but in fact the technology behind it, read source codes, software, algorithms, etc. He said that 34% of the votes of the recall referendum were audited. Furthermore the audit process, he argued, was public. By 2006 the CNE shall be completely independent in technological terms, affirmed Rodriguez, by which time the council will have the fingerprints -both thumbs- of the entire electorate (+14 million people).

I reckon the Cogent representatives were not expecting to be informed before an audience comprised by industry peers that there were no more contracts to be had in Venezuela. In any case the Q&A session came and some more technical questions were asked.

My first question was:

1) Given the characteristics of the Olivetti "gaming ware" (game machines model MAEL 205) produced originally for lottery purposes and utilized in various voting processes by Venezuela's Electoral Council, which allow bidirectional communication at all times between terminals and remote servers, and the subsequent findings that the said terminals were in constant communication with servers, how could Mr. Rodriguez guarantee that the results produced in any given process are effectively a true representation of the electorate's will?

Jorge Rodriguez's reply:

We asked Olivetti to design, especially for us, the software and source codes that were to be used by the machines, he replied. Thus 9.200 machines were audited before the political parties and the international observers and no proof of fraud or vote tampering was found. Encryption codes utilized to transmit the data guaranteed the secrecy of the vote.

Unfortunately, owing to time constraints, I did not get to ask the second question, but since Mr. Rodriguez asked me afterwards for it to be sent via email, I shall post it here:

2) Fingerprint reading machines were purchased to Cogent Systems. Reports reveal that the use of these machines introduced abnormal delays in the voting process of the recall referendum of August 15 2004. The fingerprint database that was to be correlated and added to the electoral register has not, to date, being presented to Venezuela. In view of the existence of a publicly accessible database containing the political tendencies of the entire Venezuelan electoral register, would Mr. Rodriguez or Cogent representatives care to explain in what ways has the gathered data been utilized?

I would like to conclude by publicly thanking Mark Lockie, his colleague Allison, Mr. Robert Gailing from Cogent Systems and CNE's director Jorge Rodriguez for having kindly accepted my request and questions.

To be continued...

11 October 2005

Venezuela wants to go nuclear

London 11.10.05 | Forbes reported yesterday "Argentina's foreign minister Rafael Bielsa confirmed that Venezuela is seeking to buy a medium-size nuclear power reactor from Argentina, daily Clarin reported". In the original story from Clarin it is stated that Engineer César Belinco -on behalf of Argentinean Technology Network (Red Tecnológica Argentina, RTA)- and PDVSA's INTEVEP president Alfredo Morales, signed an act formalising Venezuela's intent to purchase the nuclear reactor.

Venezuela's Vice President admitted the reactor's purchase on Monday arguing that the negotiation was between PDVSA and Argentina's Ministry of Science and Technology. Contrastingly Venezuela's Energy Minister and PDVSA CEO Rafael Ramirez declared with respect to the reactor "... there is not a concrete agreement for the acquisition of any element related to the generation of atomic energy" (sic).

Needless to say that neither Rangel's nor Ramirez statements have relevance. For it is the word of warlord Hugo Chavez the one that matters. Now, would Clarin's journalists care to share with the world the letter of intent, which they claimed to have had access to and is allegedly circulating around companies and organisms involved, that Argentinean and Venezuelan officials signed?

Another interesting question would be; for what purpose does the world's fifth largest oil producer need atomic energy? Is it to stick it to the US or to grow bolder as the region's bully? Nah, Argentina's Foreign Secretary Rafael Bielsa gave assurances that the sale of the reactor will be done with "utmost responsibility" (sic) and the possible uses in Venezuela shall be "duly supervised" (sic). Venezuela seems to be destined to continue suffering the pernicious effects of the international community's 'utmost responsibility and due supervision'...

2 October 2005

Dan Burnett: an unregistered Chavez's agent ensconced in Columbia University

London 27.09.05 | Often I have argued that internet is the true revolution. Thanks to the increasing interconnections of advanced societies one can effectively investigate loads of things. My interest, as readers of this site may have come to realize, is to uncover the duplicitous and sometimes outright illegal nature of those who, from afar, pontificate about the benefits of the criminal experiment that Hugo Chavez is forcing on Venezuela. Not one of these armchair revolutionaries would put up for one second with the things they argue Venezuelans must withstand. Richard Gott -a traitor to his own country, Eva Golinger -just as much, Ignacio Ramonet, Greg Wilpert, Justin Delacour, Mark Weisbrot, Jesse Jackson, Danny Glover, Deborah James, Dawn Gable, Bill Fletcher... all these people share the characteristic of being non-Venezuelan sycophants of a thuggish and gullible ignorant, just because every so often he utters his anti-imperialist nonsense. The prospects of profiting from the Chavez 'revolution' are just too good to let pass.

The newcomer in the gang of brown-nosers is one Dan Burnett (a.k.a. Daniel Burnett). This chap works at Columbia University's Heilbrunn Department of Population and Family Health in the Center for Community Health and Education. He has a managerial role there as assistant director [1], although a search for "dan burnett" in the directory of Columbia University [2] returns the following details:

Name: Daniel Burnett
Title: Administrator-Family Medicine
Dept: Family Crisis Intervention Ctr, NewYork-Presbyterian Healthcare Medical Centers
Mail: Center for Community Hlth & Ed ACNC 180
Phone: +1 212-304-5243
UNI: db341
E-mail: burnett@nyp.org

This Burnett character hides behind a pseudonym known as OW and has his own blog (http://oilwars.blogspot.com), where he feverishly spins the Venezuelan truth and disseminates propaganda, although its reach, as its readership, is very limited. For that reason some of his articles have been reprinted by none other than chavista anglophone spin HQ, otherwise known as Venezuelanalysis.com. What concerns me in this instance is that this individual seems not to be registered with the Foreign Agents Registration Unit -just like la Golinger, perhaps the VIO fillings of this semester will prove differently. However his connections to Venezuelan diplomatic personnel ought not to be taken lightly. On Tuesday, June 28, 2005 in a post entitled "Posada Update XI" [3, I have saved a copy 'OW', no need to delete...] Burnett posted on his blog this two pictures:

The above begs for the question: how come an employee of Columbia University (a family medicine administrator) -in whose job description, one should think, does not figure the spreading of propaganda in favour of a neo communist thug, has got such a close relationship with Venezuelan diplomats either in DC or New York or Chicago, that the latter think worthwhile to share and pass confidential information and pictures regarding matters of State? These two photos never made it to the MSM, how come Burnett not only got them but wrote a post on the topic with the pictures before anyone else?

But it does not stop there. Seeking to dupe readers into the belief that his 'fact based blog' is somewhat more trustworthy than others Burnett has alleged that he is Venezuelan. Furthermore his appalling command of the Spanish language in comment sections of other pro-Chavez blogs took away the fig leaf and when confronted with respect to his fake identity he wrote [4]:

and Boyd (aka T1, aka P2) I should make a proposition. If you figure out who I am I'll buy you a plane ticket to Caracas. Shit from London thats expensive.

Well let us see whether cocky Burnett makes his promise good for I could certainly use a plane ticket to Caracas!! Although being a chavista I doubt he will keep up his word. Oh almost forgot, how do I know that OW is Daniel Burnett? I just wrote him a message entitled "Who do you think you are kidding?" and the thick bastard took the bait [5].

The exchange if readers would care to read is enclosed. Please note that all quoted messages from Burnett have been sent from the same Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center's server (tw112fdale.cpmc.columbia.edu). How's that for misuse of resources?

Subject: Who do you think you are kidding?
From: A. Boyd
Date: 27.09.05, 12:38
To: petrowars@yahoo.com

"Es cierto que VTV no debería ser un canal de promoción del gobierno, porque aunque les duela, esa no era la función de VTV."

y porque no existian los jose mora's del mundo cuando Marta Colomina estaba en VTV?

Y cuando ella estaba botado de televen...

ya que no pueden hablar de la economia o politica enfocan en chismes


By ow, at 7:48 PM

"Mal argumento ese de la Colomina. ¿Por qué la botaron de Televen? No fue por presión gubernamental?"

Mire este, botan sus propria talibanes y echan la culpa al gobierno!!!! Seguramente nos va a decir que los officiales golpistas tenian que irse de Plaza Francia por culpa del gobierno tambien. Increible.

Los oppositores que cerraron a Catia TV y que defenden los mentiras que sale dia tras dia de sus "medios" no teine nada a decirnos.

By ow, at 11:20 PM

If the above were not enough evidence of your non-Venezuelan origin, why you keep lying about it? What's the aim, to counteract the local bloggers pretending you're also local?

Subject: Re: Who do you think you are kidding?
From: petrowars@yahoo.com
Date: 27.09.05, 14:21
To: A. Boyd

And where have I claimed to be Venezuelan ( except maybe once when I was having a hysterical discussion with someone named just noticing over the originan of some pictures I posted)? Ever think of a non-Venezuelan living in Venezuela? There aren't any of those are there? :lol:
When you surf with the ananymouse it does hide your IP. But when you post comments your true IP comes through. Interesting glitch in that system and thats how I know its you.

Subject: Re: Who do you think you are kidding?
From: A. Boyd
Date: 27.09.05, 14:40
To: petrowars@yahoo.com

Burnett, as I commented on Luigi's blog the other day, unlike you, I do not need to hide my identity. Everyone knows who I am, where to find me and what do I stand for.

Subject: Re: Who do you think you are kidding?
From: petrowars@yahoo.com
Date: 27.09.05, 14:47
To: A. Boyd

I don't know, Carlos Herrera sure seemed to have you shitting in your pants a little while back.
And, uh, why don't you e-mail this burnett person and ask him if he is running Oil Wars.
Its apparent why others stopped wasting time with you a while ago.

Subject: Re: Who do you think you are kidding?
From: A. Boyd
Date: 27.09.05, 15:09
To: petrowars@yahoo.com

Burnett, Carlos Herrera doesn't even exist, it's just a fake identity of Roy Carson pretty much as this OW is of you. Chavistas tend to 'stop wasting time with' me because I have a knack for uncovering their farcical double standards and, more importantly, their source of income. Now will you come clean on it or will I have to investigate you too?

Subject: Re: Who do you think you are kidding?
From: petrowars@yahoo.com
Date: 27.09.05, 14:47
To: A. Boyd

"Carlos Herrera doesn't even exist" never met the guy. But given your cluelessness about me I'm not inclined to take your word for it. Investigate away. Anyways, no more time to waste with this nonsense. I have posts to write.

End of exchange

Now Burnett, you have got my address, haven't you? I would like to visit relatives in Venezuela in the first week of December, so please make necessary arrangements for it. Would you care to tell me who will pay for my ticket; will it be you, Columbia University or Venezuela's Embassies in the USA? One can only hope that Columbia University will deal with this fascist -if in doubt just visit the comments in his blog, the same way as NY's Grievance Committee for the Tenth Judicial District has been dealing with tax fraudster Eva Golinger.

18 September 2005

Irrefutable Proof of the Existence of Political Prosecution in Venezuela

London 15.09.05 | The existence of systematic political prosecution in Venezuela, as established in article 7 of the Rome Statute, has been been argued for some time now. Apologists of Hugo Chavez maintain that it is nonsense, just another cry wolf allegation against the 'democratically elected' leader. Many people have complained about the existence of a list, compiled by chavista assemblyman Luis Tascon with a group of collaborators, that is widely utilised by government officials at all institutional levels to deny passports, contracts, IDs, employments, benefits, etc. The creation of said database was ordered by Hugo Chavez himself, who in a memo dated January 30th 2004 and addressed to former National Electoral Council's director Francisco Carrasquero, stated:

It is a pleasure to salute you in this opportunity whilst notifying you that I fully authorize Mr. Luis Tascón Gutierréz, ID No 9.239.964, to collect the certified copies of the forms utilized during the 2-A event, which took place between 28/11/03 and 01/12/03, whereby a group of citizens petitioned to activate a Recall Referendum on my mandate, as established in article 72 of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

Not only did Hugo Chavez order and knew about the existence of the database, the president concludes the memo by asking that his request be given full legal consideration (la presente se hace a los fines legales consiguientes). Thus Tascon put together, with the assistance and leniency of Venezuela's National Electoral Council's (CNE) director, this Venezuelan version of McCarthyism that could be consulted by the public from March 2004 on the website of Assemblyman Tascon; a revised version was distributed on July 6th of the same year. Hugo Chavez admitted in live television that the list had fulfilled its purposes -he also praised Jorge Verstrynge's book 1 hour and 25 min. into his dominical charade of Sunday 10th of April- expressing that civil servants ought to stop using it against those who signed to petition for a recall referendum on his mandate. What is more, the database was a key element of the official effort mounted by Chavez with tax payer's money to win the recall referendum known as "Misión Florentino". The software programme that comes with the list is called MaiSanta, probably borrowing its name from Comando Maisanta, which was the chavista political campaign prior to the recall referendum. Also with the package there is a rather long power point presentation geared at electoral officials supportive of Chavez.

Researching a bit about this topic I was able to find, download the list via emule and install the software in my PC. It contains details of 12.394.109 citizens, that is to say Venezuela's entire electoral register up until July 6 2004. The images speak for themselves. The questions: what would happen should any of the leaders of the democratic nations of the world be caught ordering the construction of such database? What would happen to the electoral institutions of any European country and its officials should they be caught passing critical information with respect to the political tendencies of the electorate to politicians of a given ruling party?

Main frame

Search result

Function to see how many deceased are still registered in the roll.

Function to search polling centres by region.

This window appears by clicking on "Buscar Centro de Votación por Región", which shows states.

Additional window pops up by clicking "Seleccionar". The next subdivision after state is municipality.

By pressing "Estadísticas" another window appears showing the voting centres at a given municipality.

By pressing "Seleccionar" access to the entire electoral roll of a given voting centre can be gained. At the top of the window ID number, full name, DOB, age, against opposition, opponent, abstention, valid signature, rejected signature, Rivas mision, Vuelvan Caras (another social plan), other missions and address details can be observed.

The system has been designed to be capable of showing how many supporters of Hugo Chavez there are per voting centre at a national level. By pressing "Patriotas" a list appears, however in the specific case of polling station number 64350, located in Antonio Diaz municipality of Amacuro state, no voter met whatever criteria was set to determine whether a Venezuelan is patriot or not.

Quick searches can be run at voting centre level by pressing "Filtrar".

Same process is depicted below. In this instance I selected "EMBAJADA" and then "ALEMANIA" from the window that pops up when pressing "Buscar Centro de Votación por Región".

The readme file (Leeme)

Batalla de Santa Inés Versión 1.10

Es un sistema de computación que integra en una sola base de datos toda la información mínima y necesaria para la gestión electoral. Su desarrollo es dinámico diariamente se incorporan nuevas funcionalidades e información obtenidas de diversas bases de datos que contribuyen a conocer ampliamente el panorama electoral en forma regional, partiendo desde Estado, municipio parroquia y centro de votación.

Su función es facilitar consultas en forma personal o en grupo de ciudadanos de un centro de votación o cualquier comunidad. Sirve de apoyo a la misión y visión de la sbatalla de Santa Inés.

La necesidad de crear ésta solución nace por diferentes razones.

1. Democratizar el acceso a la información.
2. Lograr que los sectores populares tenga acceso a la información.
3. Participar como contralor en los procesos electorales.
4. Evitar el fraude electoral.
5. Motivar la participación electoral.
6. Cuantificar la cantidad de electores de uno o varios centros de votación.
7. Ofrecer información y orientación al elector.
8. Ubicar votantes con tan solo indicar Nombres y Apellidos.
9. Acceder a la información sin necesidad de utilizar Internet, debido a la carencia de servicio en gran parte del territorio nacional y en los sectores populares.
10. Apoyo técnico que se integra a la labor de las Patrullas (UBE)
11. Comodidad para realizar las labores de consulta en Casa.
12. Ofrecer servicios de consulta a los vecinos de tu comunidad.
13. Evitar el traslado de los patrulleros de la UBE hacia centros de navegación ahorrándoles costos y tiempo.
14. Bajo requerimientos técnicos, puede operar desde computadoras de bajo rendimiento hasta los computadores más sofisticados.

Componentes tecnológicos:

Ha sido desarrollado para cualquier versión del sistema operativo Windows, emplea tecnología propia o auto contenida para 16 bits, permitiendo ser empleada en cualquier computador personal con requerimientos mínimos.

Emplea formato de datos estándar, la tabla de datos esta en formato DBF y la emisión de resultados en formato plano o TXT que ofrece la ventaja de lograr ser leídos en cualquier sistema operativo en su formato nativo, es decir; es fácilmente transportable.


Este sistema (Programa y Bases de Datos) ha sido construido de manera desinteresada por un grupo de profesionales altamente capacitados y experimentados en el desarrollo de aplicaciones informáticas.

Lugar de distribución:

Este sistema es de uso libre, no requiere licencia de uso, puede ser distribuido libremente sin pago por su contenido, el distribuidor podrá cobrar por el valor del Medio magnético “CD” y por los servicios de reproducción.
Contáctenos a través de:

Teléfonos 0212-238.80.25
0414-380.65.17 (Francisco Marin)
0414-304.24.57 (Desiree)

Contenido del CD.

Instalador general con tiene toda la información del REP Nacional hasta (Marzo 2004). Requiere 3.5 GB en espacio de disco duro.

Estas instrucciones en el archivo leeme.txt

Un instalador regionalizado por estado, permitiendo sólo instalar la base de datos de la región que el usuario requiera, así ocupará menos espacio en el disco duro.


1. Inserte el CD de instalación.
2. Cuando Windows muestre el contenido del CD, aparecerá la lista de todos los instaladores por estado y maisanta.exe que cubre todo el país.
3. Selecciones el instalador deseado, ejemplo: ZULIA.EXE si sólo desea trabajar con el estado Zulia.
4. Espero que finalice el proceso de instalación.

Este programa contiene los registros del REP hasta Marzo 2004. También las Cédulas de personas fallecidas y registradas en el REP.

Tiene como finalidad, ubicar cualquier ciudadano inscrito para orientarlo Sobre su centro de votación. Además facilita la búsqueda de los votantes de Un centro electoral.

¿Como se usa?
Coloque el número de la cédula de identidad, luego presione
ENTER, inmediatamente son mostrados los datos:
Nombres y Apellidos
Fecha de Nacimiento
Dirección de habitación
Número, nombre y Dirección del Centro Votación.

Luego, puedes presionar ENTER para listar a todos los votantes del centro de Votación asociados al número de centro de la cédula consultada, es decir; si La cedula consultada es 1234567, y el centro de votación es 123, listará todos Los votantes de este centro de votación ordenados por dirección de habitación. El listado es visualizado a través de NotePad para facilitar: Navegar, Buscar e imprimir.

Si deseas buscar a alguna persona por su nombre, a nivel nacional, coloca 0 en el campo cédula, luego presiona el botón buscar, e introduzca en mayúscula los Nombres y Apellidos de manera parcial o total, ejemplo: PEDRO PEREZ CARR para Buscar a todos los: PEDRO PEREZ CARREÑO, recuerda no escribir Ñ. Serán visualizados: Cédula, Nombres, Fecha de Nacimiento, Edad y Dirección de Habitación. También puedes hacer búsquedas en tu centro de votación, solo debes colocar tu número de cédula para mostrar el centro de votación, luego presiona nuevamente el botón "Buscar" y realizará la búsqueda de la forma antes descrita con la diferencia que será aplicada sólo en el centro de votación y no a nivel nacional.

Como ayudar a la patrulla:

1. Solicita la cédula

Version 1.1
Puede visualizar las estadisticas del municipio o parroquia, puedes conocer la cantidad
de votantes, cantidad que firmó contra el presidente y el porcentaje.

Espacio en Disco de 3.5 Gigas
Sistema Operativo Windows, cualquier versión con cualquier cantidad de

Hasta la victoria,
Comando MaiSanta.

Futuras versiones de este Programa, búscala en : www.luistascon.com
Actualmente estamos incorporando el registro de las personas que firmaron en contra de diputados de la oposición.

1. Insista en Captar a Abstencionistas.
2. Garantiza el Voto "Comprometido"
3. Conectese al Comando Maisanta, que le corresponda para que lo oriente acerca de la UBE (Unidad de batalla Electoral)
4. Verifique : Fallecidos Vs Votantes Activo y Fallecidos Vs. Misiones.
5. Establezca Mecanismos locales para las correspondientes verificaciones.
6. Recuerda: Leer a PRESENTA.PPS que contiene las intrucciones del proceso electoral (Gracias a Fracisco).

Read also:

Smartmatic: all things connected

21 August 2005

Smartmatic: all things connected

London 14.0.05 | The Florida register of companies contains details of the board of directors of Smartmatic Corporation, which is formed by Antonio Mugica, Alfredo Anzola, Antonio Mugica Rivero, Roger Piñate, Antonio Mugica Sesma and Luis Feliu [1]. Its principal place of business is 1001 Broken Sound Parkway, NW, STE D, Boca Raton, FL 33487. The company's history in Venezuela dates back to seven years ago when the venture was "the Research and Development Unit of Panagroup in Venezuela" (sic) and in "2000 we realized the true impact of our technology in the growing device-networking market, and we emerged as an independent company" (sic) [2]. The Miami Herald reported on Friday May 28, 2004 [ F2 EDITION]:

"A large and powerful investor in the software company that will design electronic ballots and record votes for Venezuela's new and much criticized election system is the Venezuelan government itself... Venezuela's investment in Bizta Corp., the ballot software firm, gives the government 28 percent ownership of the company it will use to help deliver voting results in future elections, including the possible recall referendum against President Hugo Chavez, according to records obtained by The Herald... Until a year ago, the Bizta Corp. was a struggling Venezuelan software company with barely a sales deal to its name, records show. Then, the Venezuelan government -- through a venture capital fund -- invested about $200,000 and bought 28 percent of it" (sic).

Further the Herald also shed light upon shareholders and registered addresses of both Smartmatic and Bizta thusly:

Three companies will build and execute Venezuela's new touch-screen voting system. Two are incorporated in Florida, though neither does most of its business here.

* Smartmatic Corp., which will build the machines, incorporated in Florida in 2000 and lists its world headquarters at 6400 Congress Ave. in Boca Raton. Its president is Antonio Mugica Rivero, 30, and its vice president is Alfredo Anzola, 30.

* Bizta Corp.,which will provide software for the new machines, incorporated in Florida in 2001, and lists its address as 19591 Dinner Key Dr., Boca Raton, a residential property owned by Mugica's father. Mugica is listed as president, and Anzola is vice president, according to Florida records. Venezuelan records, however, indicate Anzola is president. In Caracas, Bizta shares its office with Smartmatic.

* CANTV, Venezuela's publicly held phone company, will provide phone lines to connect the system and election day technical support. It would have been part of any voting system selected for the elections contract.

Venezuelan journalist Orlando Ochoa Teran investigated the claims published by the Miami Herald and discovered that Venezuelan officials were behind the incorporation of Smartmatic. Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel and Venezuelan Ambassador to the USA Bernardo Alvarez Herrera are intimately related, either through long time friendship or consanguinity relationship, to the directors of Smartmatic. According to registry documents, that went missing after the Herald blew the whistle, the names associated to the company are Alfredo Anzola, Antonio Mugica and families Gabaldon-Anzola and Herrera-Oropeza [3]. The incorporation of Smartmatic took place in the Fifth Mercantile Registry, located in the ground floor of tower B in “Cubo Negro” building in Chuao Caracas. Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel's daughter -lawyer Gisela Rangel Avalos de D'Armas was, at the time, the head of the said registry.

Since March 2004 the CNE has disbursed at least $131 million to Smartmatic [4].

Who controls Smartmatic?

The findings of Orlando Ochoa did not end in a Caracas registry though. Recently he wrote for Quinto Dia another article, carrying the title of this paragraph, in which he commented upon the recent acquisition of Sequoia Voting Systems for an undisclosed amount. "With the combination of Sequoia and Smartmatic, both proven innovators with accomplished track records in either the U.S. or abroad, we are creating the first truly global leader in providing voter-verified electronic voting solutions," said Jack Blaine, President, Smartmatic [5]. Furthermore, after analyzing the minutes of a meeting held in Chicago between Cook County and Chicago's city officials with the board of Sequoia, that remained in charge after the take over, and that of Smartmatic [6], Ochoa noted that unknown Venezuelan investors, operating via proxy European ventures, could indeed be the controlling power behind Smartmatic.

Sequoia Voting Systems was the e-voting branch of De La Rue PLC, the "world 's largest commercial security printer and papermaker" (sic) [7]. De La Rue's 2005 preliminary statement reports the sale to Smartmatic thusly:

"following the strategic review in December 2004, we announced our intention to exit the business (added: of voting systems) by the year end and this was done through the sale of the business to Smartmatic Corporation, a US based device networking and election systems company. The business had revenues of £23.1m (2003/2004 : £44.2m) and made an operating loss of £0.2m in the year (2003/2004 : £(1.9)m)" [8, page 8].

Interestingly page 5 cites "During the second half, we also successfully completed the sale of the Sequoia Voting Systems business for a consideration of £8.7m (US$16m) resulting in an exceptional gain of £6.0m" (sic).

Following Ochoa's lead I searched the registry of the Amsterdam Chamber of Commerce, which contains details of a venture trading under the name Smartmatic International Holding B.V., incorporated, under a different name, on March 18th 1.985. Its registered address is Naritaweg 165 Telestone 8, 1043BW Amsterdam. The company activities are described as "to purchase, develop and manage property and goods" [9]. The sole shareholder of the holding is Amola Investments N.V., which in turn was incorporated in the registry of the Chamber of Commerce of Curaçao, under number 91615. A search for Amola Investments N.V. in the register of Curaçao's Chamber of Commerce returns no results. However the incorporation number does exist in the register, containing not information related to Amola Investments N.V. but to another company by the name of Smartmatic International Group N.V. [10]. Curaçao Corporation Company N.V. [11], Netherlands Antilles Corporation Company N.V. [12] and Roger Alejandro Piñate Martinez -Vice President, Special Operations of Smartmatic Corporation [13]- are the three listed statutory and managing directors of the group.

Ochoa indicated that an entry in the minutes of the meeting aforementioned describes Cook County's Commissioner Peter Silvestri [14] asking to representatives of Sequoia/Smartmatic "who owns Sequoia?" (sic). The answer came from Honorable David Orr [15]: "Smartmatic International, which is owned by a Dutch company, owns Sequoia Voting Systems. Some key investors of the said Dutch company are Venezuelans" (sic). On May 26th 2005 Cook County's Election Department informed that Sequoia was the winner of the bidding process for electronic voting equipment [16].

The Amsterdam registry shows that Smartmatic International Holding B.V.'s managing director is Trust International Management (T.I.M.) B.V.. Both companies operate from the same address. According to the register the website of T.I.M. B.V is http://citco.com [17]. Citco Group is quoted in Hedge Funds World as "the world's largest hedge fund administrator" (sic) [18], that until very recently was controlled by Switzerland's Sandoz Foundation [19]. However Citco has informed that "an investor group including the Smeets Family Trust, Citco managers, and friends of the firm has acquired a controlling interest in Citco from the Sandoz Family Foundation" (sic) [20].

The USAID, IFES, Carter Center, CNE and Smartmatic connection

In June 1998, the National Electoral Council (CNE) of Venezuela contracted the International Foundation for Election Systems IFES to renew and make recommendations regarding proposals for an automated voting system in Venezuela [21, page 29 ]. IFES has been awarded (award number AEP-I-00-00-00007-00) an "indefinite quantity contract" (IQC) by USAID with the following purpose: "To support the transition to, and consolidation of, democratic governments through which citizens choose their leaders and participate in all levels of political decision-making, particularly in transition and sustainable development countries" [22, page 30 ]. According to Carter Center's America's Programme director Jennifer McCoy "President Carter had traveled several times to Venezuela, including monitoring the 1998 and 2000 elections, and he and President Chavez built a very good personal relationship" [23]. Such warm relationship may have come about due to the fact that the Carter Center is the sole subcontractor of IFES for the aforementioned purpose.

CNE's director Jorge Rodriguez traveled to Smartmatic's 'factory' in Italy, early in 2004, to check the progress of the production of the electronic voting machines. These were purchased to Tecnost Sistemi Olivetti for $57.968.040. However Italian news agency ANSA posted on the economy section on April 15, 2004 that the total amount of the contract was over $24 million:

"Olivetti Tecnost, la Business Unit "Office & System Solutions" del Gruppo Telecom Italia, si e aggiudicata una commessa del valore di oltre 24 milioni di dollari, per la fornitura complessiva di 20.000 terminali di voto elettronico in Venezuela, che saranno utilizzati per la prima volta nelle elezioni del prossimo agosto". (bold added)

20.000 AES300 machines were bought to Olivetti, however the Italian firm does not have such a model in its catalog of products but one called MAEL 205, which was designed to play lottery. Ochoa noted that the said machines produced by Olivetti were sold to Peru, India and Tunisia not for electoral purposes [24]. Smartmatic did not fulfill the CNE's criteria in terms of experience in organization and conduction of electoral processes of companies that participated in the bidding process. The obstacle was circumvented by hiring Jorge Tirado, former contractor of IFES and director of Caribbean Government Consultants (CGC):

Jorge Tirado, president of CGC, has been consultant for the State Electoral Commission of Puerto Rico since1975. He has participated in more than 63 electoral processes as consultant or as head of CGC, leading technological initiatives and process lines to ensure transparent elections. [25].

However El Universal reported that Tirado had indeed participated in 63 electoral processes not in the condition of organizer but as an observer contracted by IFES [26], organization with which he has an old relationship [27].


It is extremely worrying indeed that a company with connections to the Hugo Chavez regime has been selected to run elections in a county of Chicago and given carte blanche to operate in the USA and other countries. Equally preoccupying is the fact that leading players of the global financial market are related to Smartmatic and to some extent to Fidel Castro's heir.

4 July 2005

Students in Venezuela cry "Chavez, farsante, asesino de estudiantes!"

London 03.07.05 | From my own experience I can tell that it is very hard indeed to come to terms with the death of loved ones. Even when such tragedies are caused by natural causes. Just to begin to explain the pain that one goes through when an accident robs one of a person held dear is an almost impossible task; language is of no help in such instances. Thus I can only express my sincerest condolences to the families of Leonardo González Lárez, Edgar Quintero Torrealba and Erick Miguel Montenegro Sánchez, the three students slaughtered for no reason by Hugo Chavez's repressive military apparatus. The reaction from the students in Caracas was swift; yesterday they marched to the office of Venezuela's Attorney General to demand his resignation.

Of course, as I have argued with Jorge Arena over at Miguel's blog in regards to the possible resignation of ministers or police chiefs, to expect such a first wordly reaction from them or the Attorney General, as demanded by the students, is mere wishful thinking:

Jorge, there's absolutely nothing wrong about holding the expectation of accountability to ever take shape in our besieged country. One of the most remarkable things I heard yesterday during the Live 8 transmission was a comment by Miss Dynamite "if thousands of people were to die every day here in Britain, as it happens in Africa, would we tolerate it without reacting?"

Now my question to you; do you honestly believe that should the Metropolitan Police slaughter three students in a street of London heads would not roll in a matter of seconds? The problem is, my friend, Venezuela is not a civilised country; is not a place where the citizenship can expect any form of accountability from the governing establishment.

You have far to high expectations because you, as me, as others who write in these blogs, know other systems and have witnessed how monumental fuck ups, such as the killing of the students, have dire consequences and jail time for those involved. Try and convey that message to isaias or clodosvaldo or jessy. Can you imagine what would have happened should one of their children suffered the same fate? I argued once with that pusillanimous ambassador of ours here in London that there exist two classes of citizens in Venezuela; those in chavez's inner circle and the rest. This is the proof.

According to Oscar Perez the man in charge of the death squad, Major Jose Baldomero Peña Carrillo, was sentenced in the past to three years in jail on fraud charges. The Attorney General knew of this for other accusations with respect to Peña Carrillo have been presented before his office. But what can be expected from an Attorney General's office whose star prosecutor, read Danilo Anderson, was the leader of a ring of thugs extorting millions out of those he meant to be prosecuting? No. The disposable ones will get a slap in the wrist by officialdom and in six months time they will be reassigned to other revolutionary duties. After all this is not the first instance in which death squads assassinate citizens in broad daylight in total disregard of human rights and due process, remember Antonio Lopez Castillo? The autopsy revealed that he had eighteen bullet wounds, eighteen, one in his jaw, at a very close range... Has anyone been made accountable for Lopez Castillo's assassination? No. Has anyone been charged regarding the dissapearance of Silvino Bustillos on October 31st 2004? No...

30 June 2005

¿Hay alguien en casa?

Londres 29.06.05 | ... y fidel vino... y mataron a unos estudiantes... y pasan leyes que afectan la vida de TODOS LOS VENEZOLANOS... y regalan nuestro patrimonio a otros mientras nuestra gente muere de mengua... y los políticos de la oposición se cuadran con el régimen... y la revolución avanza... y siembran la división y nos llenan de odio... y el asesino de soldados venezolanos es nombrado padrino de promoción de ese ejercito gallardo 'forjador de libertades'... y sigue la corrupción... y el hampa se mudo a Miraflores... y yo me pregunto: ¿hay alguien en casa? ¿Hay venezolanos a quienes les duela lo que sucede así como me duele a mi? Si los hay y están en Venezuela ¿porque no actúan? ¿Que están esperando para reaccionar? ... y concluyo: cada pueblo tiene el gobierno que se merece... Cuando se forme lo que ha de formarse no duden en contar conmigo. Espero, en ese entonces, contar con energía suficiente...

27 June 2005

As Uribe's chances of reelection diminish , US faces formidable regional challenges

London 26.06.05 | Colombia's president Alvaro Uribe faces mounting opposition from what it seems to be a united front of the liberal party and other more preoccupying factors. A coalition of former presidents -Cesar Gaviria, Ernesto Samper and Andres Pastrana- seems to have found common ground, leaving behind past rivalries, to attack the policies and performance of former party member Alvaro Uribe. Recent appointments aside, that of Cesar Gaviria as party leader, it remains to be seen whether or not they will be able to agglutinate enough votes against the current president, whose prospects of getting re-elected look promising -should the Constitutional Court rules in favour of approving the necessary constitutional amendment- given the high level of support and popularity he enjoys. There are however other elements that must be considered.

Due to procedural methods the decision of the Constitutional Court, even if favourable to Uribe's aspirations, will take some time to materialise, which could impede the timely inscription for the presidential race of Uribe. There are other constitutional reforms, such as prohibition to public office holders to participate in politics; modification to the campaign financing mechanisms, that need be passed. To make the amendment workable Colombian jurists believe that both the Penal and the Disciplinary Codes and the Regime of Incompatibilities must also be reformed. Ergo, due to time constraints, Uribe's chances are slim.

Then one has to observe the swelling movement building around Bogota's leftist Mayor Lucho Garzón, who, gossip has it, it's the favourite in Caracas and Havana, and without a doubt has signed already in 'Mision la Nueva Gran Colombia' and -as Evo Morales, the Ortegas, the Humalas, Lopez Obrador and the duet Gutierrez/Bucaram- is likely to benefit from Venezuelan petrodollars and expert chavista advice on how to bring about 'democratic revolutions' successfully.

The FARC, ensconced for a while, have reemerged of late to make Uribe's Patriot Plan look like a failure. Reinvigorated, after much needed rest and pampering in Venezuelan soil, the narcoterrorists have recently engaged in fierce battles with Colombia's army which has added yet more casualties to the very long list of victims in their war against the state. Raul Reyes, spokesman of the narcoterrorist group, should have been very upset when he wrote recently that FARC's archenemy Alvaro Uribe "...pretends to perpetuate himself in power..." Similar perpetuating wishes of camarada Hugo Chavez and the 46 years that the Cuban tyrant and idelogical guru of the FARC has in power, are, of course, no matter for concern.

The US hegemony and clout in the region are on an increasingly weak footing. The fact that the big South American players -Brazil and Mexico- are either governed, or to be governed, by friends of Castro/Chavez poses a huge challenge to the US administration, which needs be said, does not seem to count with the brightest of diplomats and strategists in its foreign service. The question of throwing its weight behind Alvaro Uribe can and will make the difference between a region gearing towards prosperity, democracy and the reestablishment of the rule of law or a continent plagued with revolutions a la Bolivarian. The consequences of having upwards of 500 million people ruled by deranged leaders will be dire for the US, whether it wants to realize the gravity of the situation or continues with the policy of appeasement and leniency. For the vast majority of Latinos willing to emigrate will find their way north. Thus the US administration should act now or prepare for an ever growing invasion.

26 May 2005

People Power: The Only Option for Democratization in Venezuela

By Seth Antiles

25.05.05 | The New York Times recently reported that a US proposal to create a committee at the Organization of American States (OAS) to monitor the quality of democracy in Latin America is facing stiff resistance from many Latin American countries. According to the Times, the US proposal is facing difficulties in part because it is being viewed as "an effort to attack Venezuela." In fact, the reluctance of the OAS to hold neighboring governments accountable when they do not govern democratically is consistent with its history of turning the other cheek as several presidents have slid toward authoritarianism.

Several weeks ago, Ecuadorian citizens rose up to topple their president, Lucio Gutierrez, after he had eliminated checks on presidential power by dissolving the Supreme Court and appointing a kangaroo Court. President Ricardo Lagos of Chile called the political upheaval ''grave.'' The Peruvian Ambassador to the OAS, Alberto Borea, stated that supporting Ecuador's way of changing government would send a signal that it is normal to dismiss presidents this manner. Sadly, the OAS and key Latin American leaders did nothing to try to restrain President Gutierrez's authoritarian actions prior to the popular reaction. Latin Americas' continued accommodation of authoritarianism leaves the Latin American "street" as the only hope for democratization in Venezuela.

Venezuela's Frustrated Experience with People Power

History shows there were three possible moments when people power might have succeeded. The first was April 11, 2002 when a million Venezuelans took to the streets to protest Chavez's slide toward authoritarianism. The uprising led to Chavez's ouster after the military refused to repress peaceful protestors. Rather than commit crimes against humanity the military asked for his resignation. But a movement that began as a grass roots democratization drive was hijacked by a small group who attempted to replace one authoritarian regime with another. The military returned Chavez to power rather than allow a small group of political dinosaurs to grab power from what had been a broad based uprising.

The street mobilizations of late 2002 and early 2003 was the second attempt. Unfortunately, a segment of the movement used PDVSA as a weapon against Chavez. When PDVSA workers shut down oil production all Venezuelans suffered, and those with a financial cushion were best able to withstand the assault. The opposition lost potential sympathizers as a consequence. It took many months before the opposition was able to rebuild.

The third opportunity arose in August 16 2004, the day after the referendum against Chavez. Whether or not electoral fraud took place on August 15 will never be known. But all objective observers acknowledge that the referendum result may have been altered by the outrageous abuses of voter rights committed by the electoral authorities in the weeks and months prior to August 15. The day after the referendum society had every right to pour into the streets to protest against the electoral abuses committed by the authorities and tolerated by the OAS and Carter Center. Why did the OAS and Carter Center endorse the result? It is a difficult question to answer, but it is clear that these two organizations had a conflict of interest and should not have acted as both facilitators of the referendum negotiations and as election observers. After working so hard to get the two sides of the conflict to agree to the referendum, it was too difficult for these organizations to state publicly that the electoral body was deeply biased in favor of the government, subsequently walk out of Venezuela, and leave the country in chaos. Whereas in the Ukraine the international community refused to endorse the election result, in Venezuela any hope of mounting a credible people power movement in the name of electoral justice was obliterated by the OAS and Carter Center.

Another Chance

Congressman Bill Delahunt, a Massachusetts Democrat and a member of the House International Relations Committee, recently told the New York Times "one cannot get around the fact that Hugo Chavez is a democratically elected president." Delahunt failed to mention that after being elected Chavez eliminated all checks and balances on presidential power by purging all public sector institutions and stacking them with loyalists. He failed to mention that Chavez is working quickly to arm a personalized, parallel military that will surely be trained to follow the orders of their president if he tells them to open fire on peaceful protestors. Chavez was democratically elected, but after his election democracy came to an end in Venezuela.

Over the past few years Venezuelans have demonstrated an incredible ability to mobilize peacefully against authoritarianism. With no hopes for a fair election in 2006, any realistic opposition strategy will almost certainly include a massive people power movement. While Venezuelan citizens are not likely to get much support from most OAS members, it is clear that the United States has finally come to grips with the dangers of Chavez's authoritarianism. In its next battle for democracy Venezuela's people power movement will surely have an ally.

Seth Antiles worked for 8 years as a Director of Latin America research at Citigroup and is currently head of research at an emerging market investment fund.