April 21, 2004

Guest post: A Few Questions Greg Left Out

by jimmy humboldt

man, you're better at stats than i am, i certainly would never have looked up the confidence rating. that was a pretty good response, though to be honest i don't think the fact that the chavistas signed off on the megafraude is such an irrelevant detail -- i mean after all, why didn't they say something about the planillas planas until after they found out that including them would mean a recall vote?

the other thing i've always wanted to ask rodriguez is why did the chavistas fill out planillas planas as well? i've had friends of mine on the chavez camp tell me that they too had someone at the table fill out their name and info for them, and just signed and stamped their thumbprint -- this was upon the explicit instruction of the people running the chavista mesas to recall opposition deputies. does that mean that the government was trying to promote a megafraude as well? why can we assume the opposition used planillas planas for the purposes of faking signatures and not assume the same of the revolutionaries?

the cne line has always been that the rules for signing the petitions were "clearer than a rooster's crow" as the awkwardly translated popular expression holds it. but it seems that just about everyone was confused about this, including 1) opposition sympathizers who signed to remove chavez 2) government sympathizers who signed to recall opposition deputies 3) volunteers running mesas for both the chavistas and the opposition 4) observers from both the chavista and opposition camps. Could it be that maybe the rules were not that clear after all? Or more likely, that they were interpreted post facto in such a way that doesn't make any sense given their context?

there's another thing i've always wanted to point out to rodriguez -- there were three separate signature collection processes, two of which evidently failed. the opposition drive to chavista recall deputies, more of a vengeance manuever than a practical effort to change the balance of the legislature, was sponsored by accion democratica, and appears to have been able to convoke only a few referenda. the government campaign was similarly luckless, with a total of maybe three deputies that they could recall. as it happens, the only campaign that did in fact successfully collect the sigantures needed (even though some of the sheets had similar handwriting, as with ALL of the other processes) was the presidential one. And this recall process was the only one that had the organizational help of Sumate, a group that the chavistas have taken great pains to point out has received funding from theUS. Does this mean that the recall process is so onerous that the only ones who can successfully pull it off are those bankrolled by the National Endowment for Democracy? Does it take a grant from an imperial power to get through all the measures that ensure "transparency" in requesting a recall? Is this the participative democracy that led Chavez to rewrite a constitution and call three referenda in less than three years?

i'm not sure anyone has ever turned the chavista's US funding argument on its head, but it's an interesting angle to think about. The government is still pursuing a criminal investigation of sumate for allegedly usurping cne powers, and it has an active smear campaign against it. but why, if this organization has done more than any in the last two years to promote citizen participation, is it being taken apart by a government that proudly promotes participative (NOT representative) democracy?