Less than one month to go, until Venezuelans vote to elect their President. The following report by the Venezuelan Student Movement summarizes the most important developments regarding the election process in Venezuela during the second week of September (Wednesday 5th – Wednesday 12th). It looks like Chávez (and his supporters) continues to use frequently undemocratic methods to try to save his job…
The past seven days, campaign strategies have maintained. The opposition candidate, Henrique Capriles Radonski, continued his Town by Town tour covering approximately three towns per day. On the other hand, the incumbent candidate, Hugo Chávez, maintains the largest portion of his media appearances through the use and abuse of presidential mandatory nationwide addresses. We notice with concern how president Chávez reiterates the risk of a civil war in the event that he doesn’t win; statements of this nature evidence a coherent speech with a rise of violent campaigning, reflected in the presence of armed groups identified with the current regime, sabotaging the opposition candidates’ visits to Caracas’ slums. As students and citizens, we deplore and denounce the absence of international observers, in the frame of an ever more tense and violent environment, a few days away from elections. The gravity of Presidents Chávez decision to denounce The Human Rights American Convention has not yet been assimilated by the public opinion.
1. CNE installed logistics committee for October 7th elections
In order to initiate coordination’s for the upcoming elections, the president of the National Electoral Council (CNE), Tibisay Lucena, installed a logistics committee, formed by State institutions that support the Electoral Branch of Power in operative aspects. When installing the logistics committee, the president of the CNE emphasized the importance of obeying the protocols determined by them, as to guarantee the effectiveness of the phases that make a good electoral event possible. Institutions involved in the electoral process, such as the National Armed Forces, the Ministry of Education, communication companies like CANTV, Movilnet and Corpoelec, all participated in the meeting. (1)
2. Venezuelans abroad are unaware of voting centres logistics
Less than a month away from the October 7th presidential elections, the majority of Venezuelan voters living abroad are uninformed of the logistics that the National Electoral Council will put in place. This requirement generates discomfort in the almost 20 thousand Miami Consulate voters that have been forcefully migrated to the New Orleans voting centres (see Bulletin #6) (2). Still unaware of the specific voting place, the organizations VotoJoven, Votodondesea and VenMundo noted their concerns in Miami. The CNE directory announced that in the upcoming days they will clear this uncertainty. (3)
3. Otero exhorts the international community to closely follow the October 7th presidential elections
The chief editor of the journal El Nacional, Miguel Otero, asked the international community, in the name of all those who believe in democracy in Venezuela, to closely monitor the upcoming elections. Otero explained during the annual meeting of the World Newspaper Society, celebrated in Ukraine, that the electoral process will develop in uncertain conditions for the Venezuelan opposition, given that “the CNE is a politicized, biased and opaque organism”. Furthermore, he explained how the Electoral Branch of Power accompaniment”, which is exercised under the control of the Government (see Bulletin #5). (4) Moreover, the editor of El Nacional warned that the system of biometric identification, known as captahuellas (fingerprint reader), seeks to promote abstention within opposition voters, by creating the idea that the secrecy of the vote will be compromised. With that, he says, they are threatening the right of freedom to vote. (5)
4. Attacks against the campaign of Henrique Capriles Radonski
The campaign chief of the Comando Venezuela (opposition), Armando Briquet, explained in a press conference the reasons why the visit of presidential candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski to La Pastora, an emblematic Parish of Caracas, in his campaign tour Town by Town, was suspended. Briquet stated that there was an armed group in the area that pretended to “sabotage” the presidential candidate’s activity. The campaign chief assured that he had proof that evidences the presence of different leaders of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) “that sought a destabilizing situation”. Similarly, Cariles Radonski didn’t attend a walk scheduled for Sunday September 9th in the sector of Manicomio (west of the capital), to prevent a foreseen attack by chavista groups. Regardless of the absence of the presidential candidate, the walk took place with the presence of the Metropolitan Mayor, Antonio Ledezma, and the parliamentarians Ismael García and Richard Blanco. (6)
5. Capriles Radonski’s promises for his first 100 days
This Monday September 10th, Henrique Capriles Radonski presented in the Metropolitan University of Caracas his “Construyendo juntos tu progreso” (Building together your own progress) plan, which describes the projects he seeks to accomplish in his first 100 days as head of state. Of the outstanding ones, the candidate aspires to begin 22 thousand infrastructure projects. The amount includes the beginning of new projects as well as maintenance where it is needed. Capriles explained that the government’s objective is to solve problems such as: drinkable water supply, electricity service, means of communication, housing and public transportation. Finally, the candidate highlighted the importance of investing in education, for which he promised one thousand schools that will benefit 700 thousand teenagers. (7)
In response to Capriles’ promises, the president of the National Assembly and vice-president of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), Diosdado Cabello, stated that the program for his first 100 days “it’s not something that anyone could feel as doable”. Then, Cabello added that if someone questions the nickname “big liar”, used by president Chávez referring to the promises of his opponent, “must verify his work as governor of Miranda”. (8)
6. Chávez warns about North America’s intentions and distinguishes “Extreme right” from “Serious right”
This Sunday September 9th, in a campaign act made in Charallave, Miranda State, president Chávez assured that Henrique Capriles Radonski does not love the country and seeks to make of Venezuela a “yankee colony”, in dependence of the United States of America. To the acclamations of his followers expressing that he is the country, the candidate of truth and love, the president exclaimed: “Chávez is not only me. We are all Chávez. The people are Chávez and Chávez is the people and overall the country’s heart”. (9)
On Monday September 10th, in a news conference of the PSUV, candidate Chávez highlighted the necessity to distinguish the “extreme right that wants to take rule on October 7th” from the “serious right, that respects the country, the law and the constitution; that needs to speak clearly to the country and that must not be trying to put on a mask”. Chávez explained that Venezuela needs this serious right, reason why he “extends a hand” for them to arise in the political debate in Venezuela, once the opposition is defeated. (10)
Then, the president and candidate reaffirmed that the risk of a “civil war”, in the hypothetical case of an opposition’s victory, its due to the “hidden package” that lies “in the real program of the bourgeoisie”, meaning, the MUD’s economical program. (11)
7. State Vargas’ government invests funds in Chávez campaign
The candidate for governor of the opposition for the State of Vargas, José Manuel Olivares, denounced on Monday September 3rd the improper use of public goods by the state’s government to support Chávez’s campaign. The use of those resources was made in the “International tourism fair”, and in the past electoral simulation held on September 2nd. Olivares presented photographs, videos and documents as proof to the CNE, where he met with the representative Vicente Díaz. Olivares stated that during the fair, there were videos allusive to candidate Chavez’s proposals, and a gigantic screen with Chávez’s slogan “The country’s candidate” was projected. Regarding the electoral simulation, he denounced that members of the PSUV were transported in patrol cars, which belonged to Vargas’ police. Given those facts, the MUD’s candidate accused the current governor of the state, Jorge Luis García Carneiro, of corruption for the improper use state resources, reminding that “Vargas’ resources must be for all the people of Vargas without political distinction.” (12)
On September 8th, the political scientist and member of the polling agency “Top Data”, Santiago Rodríguez, assured that “8 of every 10 undecided people will vote for Henrique Capriles Radonski”, adding that 23.1% of the respondents is independent or undecided, yet they are the ones that will decide the final result of the elections. The study was made in August with a sample of 4,000 people. Those who showed themselves as undecided were asked to whom they were leaning towards the most. The result was that 54% answered Henrique Capriles Radonski and 46% Hugo Chávez (13).
Moreover, the coordinator of the Organization and Electoral Strategy of the Carabobo Campaign Command in Aragua State, Juan Carlos Luna, informed that the last polls made in the state, show a minimum difference of 23% between Hugo Chávez and Henrique Capriles. Luna stated: “we are convinced that this tendency in favour of Hugo Chávez is irreversible”. However, he said “the subject of polls were revised and analyzed, but at the end we see it as the portrait of the moment, so it is not an element that ultimately defines the political behaviour of the revolutionaries” (14).
The newspaper “Ultimas Noticias”, celebrating its 71st anniversary, has taken the initiative to make the forum “Presidential elections: what the polls shows”, on Friday September 14th. In this event, specialists in public opinion with the directors of seven polling agencies will discuss their job done regarding the elections: methodology, projections, tendencies and their preparation for the upcoming exit polls. (15)