March 2, 2004

Speaking for the opposition coalition...

Julio Borges said the opposition will not accept a "repair process" under the terms CNE announced earlier. Borges urged the Carter Center/OAS mission to help broker a compromise with CNE that restores the principle of the presumption of good faith on the part of signatories. The presumption of good faith - a cornerstone of administrative law - is now the center of the opposition's argument, and Carter Center/OAS have made it clear they agree with the opposition on this key point.

The opposition calculates the bar is set too high. If CNE accepts only 1,832,493 million signatures as prima facie valid valid, the opposition would need to mobilize 603,590 supporters - many old or illiterate - to the reparo centers over two days in order to reach the 2,436,083 signatures needed to call a referendum.

The opposition's central point is that it should be up to the people wrongly included in the petition to come forward to ask to have their names struck off the list. Under the current rules, government supporters who believe their names were included in the petition fraudulently would not have to do anything at all to have their signatures disqualified. Legitimate signatories, on the other hand, would need to turn out again to confirm what they've already signed.

The opposition and the Carter Center/OAS mission agree that, by imposing additional requirements on signatories, CNE inverts the burden of proof. They take the signatures to be fraudulent as the "default setting" and place the burden of disproving that presumption on citizens who have already fulfilled all the requirements set out in the law to request a Recall Referendum. This procedure is illegal, unconstitutional, divorced from common sense, and wrong.