August 27, 2004

Who in the opposition has the moral authority to accept a Chavez victory?

Teodoro Petkoff does.

This is the Aug. 25th editorial in TalCual

Sumate's statement, published yesterday, gives rise to an urgent reflection. In effect, if "it is not possible to speak of fraud without strong evidence," a question of utmost importance arises:

What if there was no fraud? What if the results of the referendum reflect the will of the voters? Today, CANTV reaffirms, on the basis of technical arguments, what the Coordinadora Democratica had said before the referendum about the adequacy of the automated voting system. We recommend reading CANTV's statement because it leads to another question: isn't it possible that the vote remains a trustworthy democratic instrument and that refusing to use it could leave that huge mass of at least 40% of the voters without any kind of alternative vis-a-vis those in power?

Clearing up this matter quickly is crucial for the immediate future, but also for the long term. We have to get past our shock, depression and anger to examine more clearly and lucidly what happened. Because, if Sumate is now cautiously saying that "the numerical patterns found in the actas do not constitute conclusive proof of fraud" (El Nacional, Aug. 23rd, page A3); if CANTV vouches for the total effectiveness with which it carried out its responsibilities on the referendum (which, incidentally, were not limited to data transmission but also included coordinating the work of over 11,000 voting machine operators); if the results of the manual voting tables, which constitute a gigantic sample of one million of the country's poorest voters confirms the general tendency registered in the poorest areas; if OAS and the Carter Center, whose guarantees were previously said to be sufficient to accept the results, did not "rush to judgment" but instead correctly judged reality; if the exit polls, which are now thrown around as though they were Moses's Tablets, were not trustworthy enough, as expressed by one of the main pollsters in Venezuela (whose own exit polls, incidentally, had detected the trend in favor of the No from early on); if, all things considered, it does not appear to be a coincidence that all the pre-vote polls (except UCV's) had the No ahead, isn't it about time, then, to leave behind the listlessness produced by the results and to start to admit that the evidence indicates that Chavez won the referendum, but that the referendum also showed the existence of a powerful force of opposition voters, which won in Caracas and the biggest cities in the countries, that even in the chavista strongholds of the shantytowns has between 30% and 40% of the electorate, and that it would therefore be extremely irrational and irresponsible for people to give in to hopelessness and to fail to participate in the state and local elections next month?

Refusing to capitulate goes beyond mere rhetoric.

It means giving up the consoling conspiracy theories about Bush and "that old wanker" Carter, supposedly in favor of the oil interests of the empire, with the complicity of - wait for it - the Colombian oligarchy as represented by "that fucking Colombian" Gaviria; it means discarding the "pregnant bird" stories about the "Russian superprogrammer" who supposedly tampered with the machines and other such nonsense, and recognizing rather that something must have happened in these last few years in this country to allow the victory of a rhetoric of social redemption in the mouth of a strong leader who knows how to communicate it, and who despite heading one of the worse governments in recent memory, manages to hang on to the affection and the backing of millions of our fellow citizens who do not "sell" their votes but rather identify themselves still - though less and less so - with that hawker of illusions and hopes called Hugo Chavez.

For those who refuse to capitulate, digesting all of this and metabolizing it is indispensable: we need to lick our wounds, jump back into the ring, and fight.