Carter will irk both sides in Venezuela
- Can't say I would agree with former president Carter on this one but then
again I have always been against the role the Carter Center has played in
the elections in Venezuela. He is correct about the process, that it is
fair ( by bourgeise democracy standards) but now that US diplomacy has
become "best friends" with the government, they will use every lever to
make it move to the right and into it's sphere of influence. Carter is a
useful tool for them in that respect and to sow doubt. How is that new era
of relations working out? NOT
Andres Oppenheimer: Carter will irk both sides in Venezuela
BY ANDRES OPPENHEIMERAOPPENHEIMER@...<aoppenheimer@...>
When I interviewed former President Jimmy Carter on a wide range of issues
a few days ago, I was especially interested in his views about Venezuela�s
2-month-old political crisis.
In the past, Carter, whose Carter Center is known among other things for
its international election monitoring missions, has drawn the fury of
Venezuelan oppositionists by giving his blessing to several elections that
were officially won by Hugo Ch�vez, the late president and former coup
Would Carter now approve of the results of Venezuela�s April 14 elections,
which according to the pro-government National Electoral Council were won
by Ch�vez prot�g� Nicol�s Maduro? Would he give some credence to opposition
leader Henrique Capriles� claims that the election had been stolen from him?
The Venezuelan government did not allow independent international election
observers for the elections. It only allowed electoral tourists from
friendly regional groups who arrived shortly before the voting.
(There is a big difference: while international observing missions monitor
the entire election process over months, including how much television time
candidates are given during the campaign, the visiting teams invited by
Venezuela only observed the voting itself.)
After the elections, Venezuela�s electoral commission announced that Maduro
had won by 1.5 percent of the vote.
Capriles denounced widespread irregularities, including outdated tallies
that allowed multiple voting by government sympathizers, and said that if
fraudulent votes were nullified, he would be declared the winner by 400,000
Asked during the interview, which is to be aired on CNN en Espa�ol on
Sunday, whether Venezuela�s election process was clean, Carter asserted
that �the voting part� of it was �free and fair.�
�Venezuela probably has the most excellent voting system that I have ever
known,� Carter said, referring to the touch-screen voting machines and the
paper ballots that are used there.
�So far as I know, Maduro did get 1.5 percent more votes than his opponent,
Capriles, and that has been substantiated by the recount of paper ballots.�
But Carter added that Venezuela�s electoral commission �has not yet fully
addressed� several questions raised by Capriles concerning the accuracy of
voters� lists, intimidation of voters, questionable use of fingerprinting
machines and other irregularities.
�My own belief is that the Central Electoral Commission should go ahead and
investigate Capriles� allegations, to see if they are justified or not,�
�In the meantime, of course, Maduro is assumed to be the president, pending
a final decision.�
He added, �I don�t know what the final result will be, but I do wish that
Maduro would reach out to the other 50 percent, roughly, of the people in
Venezuela and say, �You are part of my administration, of my government.� �
Asked whether the overall election rules were fair, Carter said that Maduro
had more campaign funds and enjoyed a �tremendous advantage� in television
time during the campaign. Maduro followed Ch�vez�s practice of �mandating�
that television stations �follow his long speeches when his opponents are
deprived of that right,� he said.
He added that Venezuela�s elections badly need public financing for all
candidates� campaigns, and that �the equalization of access to public and
private radio and television would be a very good step in the right
My opinion: I have to confess that I have a soft spot for President Carter.
When I was a student opposing the right-wing dictatorship in my native
Argentina in the 1970s, he was the first U.S. president who sided with
pro-democracy activists and human rights victims, rather than with
But I�m intrigued by his failure in recent years to be equally supportive
of pro-democracy activists and victims of government abuses in Venezuela
and countries where presidents, once elected democratically, usurp near
absolute powers and hold questionable elections.
Is it fair to call �the voting part� of an election �free and fair,� when
the opposition�s claims of irregularities have not been fully investigated?
Is it fair to separate the �voting part� of an election from the entire
electoral process, when a president has a more than 10-1 advantage in
television time? And if the election was clean, why didn�t Venezuela allow
credible international election observers?
To his credit, Carter is requesting an investigation into Capriles�
complaints, and that Maduro reach out to the opposition.
I would only suggest to him that if he says that �the voting part� was
�free and fair,� he should also say in equally explicit terms that the
entire electoral process was one-sided and unfair.
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