May 9, 2004

Owning up...

...Antonio Ledezma - like Cristina - doesn't exist. He's on Globo now ranting about how CNE cheated him out of his signature. It's understandable that Cristina and Antonio feel angry about this, but the P.R. line many (including, mea culpa, me) have used on this issue is misleading.

The reason most of these signatures "disappeared" - and do not show up in the reparable category - is that there was some kind of mistake or problem with the actas, the official daily tallies kept at each of the signing centers. Since the signing centers were run by opposition operatives and only supervised by CNE, Jorge Rodriguez says that the mistakes in the actas cannot be attributed to "material errors" by CNE, since CNE was not in charge. Moreover, Felipe Mujica and Quiroz Corradi knew full well this was what they were agreeing to when they agreed with CNE's reparo procedures two weeks ago.

So the opposition is being somewhat disingenuous when it heavily implies these signatures just vanished - they didn't they; were ruled invalid according to rules set out way the hell back in September 2003. In fact, this may be one of the only rules of the game CNE hasn't changed in the middle of the game.

But you can only take the rehabilitation of CNE so far. It stands to reason that if you're going to rule out categorically signatures whose actas had defects, you implicitly accept the acta as the prime arbiter of the validity of the signature - acta mata firma. The will of the signator is a secondary matter. These are just warmed over AD tactics that have now been co-opted by chavismo.

What's worse, even the acta-centric interpretation is applied unevenly, and plainly unfairly. If signatures accounted for in flawed actas are presumed to be invalid, how can it be that hundreds of thousands of other signatures, accounted for in flawless actas signed by everybody and their cousin, are not presumed to be valid? Either CNE trusts its own actas or it doesn't.

But, predictably, the government insists on having it both ways. CNE seems to act under the guiding principle that the government is from Jalisco, si no gana, empata. Actas constitute prima facie evidence when it suits the Chavez project to paint the opposition as fraudulent, but they don't constitute prima facie evidence when accepting them as such could work against the government's interests.

Actas are both binding and not-binding at the same time. CNE joins the campaign to scrub the legacy of Aristotle from Venezuelan public life.