breakup1What’s the best way to turn an argument into a boring, annoying, petty mess? Make it into a he-said/she-said match, and mire it in obscure technical detail. Soon enough, you’ll get half the audience tuning out because they don’t like back-and-forth-bickering, and the other half will be just confused and forget why they cared in the first place.

CNE, you gals are good.

Ever since last Wednesday, when Capriles’ Comando Simón Bolívar officially petitioned for a full audit of the voting process, the CNE has played the disgruntled ex-girlfriend card.

Here’s how this metaphorical break-up went down:

HCR: Its not you, its me. I just can’t go on like this, trusting you to give me electoral results when I know there’s shady business going on.

CNE I don’t know what you’re talking about! I’m totally transparent and have proven my integrity to you 18 elections over!

HCR: Yeah … I’m not buying it this time. Too many people have told me you’ve been cheating on me. Dude, my buds even have pictures of your shenanigans.

CNE: That’s ridiculous, I’m insulted. And if you have any reason to believe that I’m an electoral skank, then I invite you to sift through all my dirty laundry. I dare you to find one shred of evidence pointing to such a mean-spirited claim! I’m an open book!

HCR: Ok, let’s get to it then!

Following a 9-hour closed-doors meeting on Thursday night, Tibisay Lucena announced the CNE’s decision to allow for an expanded audit of the remaining 46% of voting boxes that were not audited on Sunday.

Except, ever the conniving, passive-aggressive ex-girlfriend (man, I really should take some pointers from this chick), she was careful not to elaborate too much on how this audit would take place, nor what exactly it involved. That’s how you pave the way towards “I never said that!” territory.

Ever the gentleman, Capriles accepted Tibi’s proposal, and, giving her the benefit of the doubt, celebrated her new-found sensibility, since it’s all being done with the noble objective of bringing peace of mind to seven million voters (afterall, this ex-girlfriend’s gonna have to woo some other guy soon enough, so her reputation is on the line).

Technical details will be sorted out later, figures HCR, just don’t forget that an audit entails looking over the ballots, the cuaderno (voting notebook where voters sign their names), the machine results, and, as long as you’re all about full disclosure, surely you don’t mind if we peek at the fingerprint registry as well?  Once this is over, we can all rest easy knowing that the CNE meant no harm, and in a couple of years, we’ll all look back on this and laugh about how it was just one giant, goofy misunderstanding.


So this is how you totally screw-up the victim charade: by going on TV, repeatedly and unsolicited, before this auditing process has even started, to insist that no irregularities will be found. By all of a sudden claiming, once you’ve already agreed that closer inspection is merited, that such an audit is merely technical and perfunctory, and is thus symbolic at best. By trying to reduce this whole argument to a trivial debate over the technical details.

Said the ex-girlfriend: “Fine, you can look into my life, but I’m just telling you from the start that youre only allowed to check my datebook and confirm that I met with the people I said I would, but you can’t look at my Facebook pictures, nor my phone calls, and you can only read 1 out of every 3 pages of my diary. Oh, and by the way, even if you do find something, it won’t really make a difference because that’s not what this is about anyways.”

Backed against a wall by both national and international public opinion, this strategy seeks to accomplish two things for the CNE. Firstly, they are banking on the fact that Capriles will engage in this petty exchange of negotiation terms, only to be shut down, and therefore once again demoralize the opposition electorate who previously knew better than to even dream of contesting authority, into backing down as well (bueno, ya qué vamos a hacer? El CNE no va a permitirnos nada y no nos queda otra…). Secondly, they want to make this into an obscurely technical discussion that will eventually turn off supporters because actas de verificación ciudadana and porcentaje de cajas de resguardo sorteadas are just not sexy, and frankly, much less dangerous than the 6000+ documented irregularities that the CNE is trying to ignore.

Thankfully, Capriles has not taken the bait. He’s still voicing his confidence in the CNE’s intentions to make sure this political crisis is overcome in an expedient fashion. He’s placing the responsibility of validating our democratic process squarely on the CNE’s shoulders, and making sure we’re all aware.

Tibisay and Sandra Oblita’s defensive assertions are like the angry text-message disgruntled ex-girlfriends send at 3:00 a.m. to bait you into responding. They rarely get an answer, and just leave them sounding like crazy, desperate, insecure gals.

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    • My guess is this audit has few few goals beyond rallying the Chavista faithful against the evil opposition. It won’t do anything to restore their credibility, not after all these comments.

      They threw the opposition a bone, not for it to gnaw on, but so they can point out to the faithful of how merciful they were. Some are even buying it.

      I really, really don’t see any benign reason to disallow physical counting of ballots. If it were a bait, to trick the opposition into playing for it and then to demonstrate how it was all really picture-perfect, they have long since overplayed it. I’m forced to conclude that the physical ballot count most likely wouldn’t match the machine count. It’s the only explanation that makes sense right now.

  1. Something about someone taking the “high road” and someone else taking the “low road” and then something else about seeing you in a Carter Center Report in about three weeks time….Hopefully with some mention of Smartmatic’s tremendous and flawness reputation for delivering election results on time and under budget… and no reference to non-relevant ties to a former Chavez era Director of State Intellligence and current State Governor.

  2. One thing can be said of the people they put up to be heads of the CNE.

    They are the best, meaning the very worst of Venezuelan Bureaucrats, with PSUV attitude added. Francisco Carrasquero, Jorge Rodriguez, Tibisay Lucena. Partial, disrespectful of the public, contemptuous of law and of fairness, even more than slightly corrupt, they are sure to take a sinecure with the Government after their tenure at the CNE.

    Of course it’s easy to engage in this sort of interaction when we (the opposition) have handed them everything, and the chavernment (whose sock puppets they are) insists that we must respect whatever the hell they decide. Well, there’s the Supreme Court if we have a complaint (same situation here). The CNE is unaccountable and opaque as it can be. It was a horribly cynical move by chavismo, minting the Electoral Boards as a new State Power.

  3. Love the analogy! I’m thinking with Tibisay’s “honor” (not to mention job) on the line she’ll do anything to keep things under wraps. It is the most flagrant fundamental flaw in the current government that the electoral board is politically motivated. The rest is a sideshow and I fear that Capriles will come up empty handed but not for lack of a fraudulent election.

  4. Good post.

    I don’t understand why the MUD loses so much time and energy in trying to talk to the CNE behind closed doors or even just in the national arena, in a country where real debates are as well understood as classic Tibetan.

    The MUD should by now just keep repeating a detailed, point-to-point demand for auditing
    by posting that to international organisations and sending the letter to the CNE/government: “everyone is knowing about this, the whole world knows exactly what points we want and everyone of all the international journalists in Venezuela can access the detailed specifications of what we want in this … page…and we have sent this information to every embassy of every foreign country in Venezuela right now.”

  5. The CNE gals comments are meant to signal their displeasure at the task which local and international pressures ( backstage Unasur discussions) have forced them to assumme and their intent of using petty technicalities and bureacratic procedural minutae to obstruct and stall the recount exercise so that in the end it yield as little as possible in the way of useful information. They are professional Venezuelan bureaucrats, insolent, well versed in the ways of sending the petitioner back again and again for more and more documents or ‘requisitos’ in order to get the permit or document they need. To a fiendish bureaucrat rules are just torture instruments they twist and tortuously missinterpret’ to frustrate the petitioners efforts while putting on a fachade of faked ”righteous’ zeal’ that makes them feel haughtily omnipotent in their capacity to deny people access to whatever they need from the government. HCR’s team challenge is to be as clever as they in sorting through the obstacle course which will be set before them to get to the information they need. .

    • The thing is: we need to make these “technicalities” public to the outside world and let know everyone that everyone knows: “Tibisay, herewith we notify you that the whole world is expecting you to respond to these points and don’t beat around the bush, it’s your obligation to the nation and the world, not a favour we expect from you.”
      There is no dialogue possible in Venezuela. We need thus an international area where we expose point by point. And it is not so difficult now, for Goodness sake, in the times of the Web. You need to set up a site and put an initial page with point by point (plus some links for further explanation), put there the list of addressees and send that to everyone…I mean you “the MUD”.

    • La impugnación del resultado se consigna ante el TSJ, no el CNE. Eso ocurrirá pronto. Son varios los canales que se activan durante esta semana, cada uno obedece a un fin distinto. Petición de auditoría ante el CNE: presionar para que se demuestre transparencia en el proceso. Impugnación ante TSJ: cuestionar validez de resultados dados los delitos electorales cometidos ( voto asistido, intimidación de votantes, abusos del estado, etc.)

  6. Emiliana,

    So: what do you think there is to be done? What do you think of seriously putting up an on-line platform to officially communicate to the outside world our demands? Why hasn’t the MUD done this? It doesn’t take much. They can write it all in Spanish: a clear, detailed but to-the-point text with the demands…sent to everyone that counts abroad, possibly stating we demand the CNE not to beat around the bush, not to try to water things down that are non-negotiable. The purposes of the ballot paper was clear, for instance. No es “un comprobante, mi amor”, as Lucena would say.

    • I disagree about focusing on international public opinion. What foreigners (governments, foreign correspondents, NGOs) think of Venezuela is of secondary importance for the MUD.

      The MUD is focusing on the CNE and the courts, as well as domestic public opinion, which is how it should be.

      • Juan,

        Pro-forma “the CNE and the courts” count, but
        those blokes won’t move a finger ever ever ever unless there is a massive outcry from both the public – which is divided and not well-informed- and the international community.

        I don’t expect Dilma or la Cristina to do anything. But I do expect some pressure if the mobilization is general and that doesn’t cost much if done at least via digital means.

        We are not talking about German or Belgian politics and courts. These guys won’t do anything unless they start to fear prosecution later in their lives.

        Whenever I have also talked about real debate (another topic) I didn’t mean there was any use in debating with high ranking Chavistas. It would be nice if that were possible. It’s about showing people how naked Chavismo is – both to the public and to the outside world.

        There is absolutely no point in carrying a single minute of conversation with the current government unless there are witnesses from abroad and from Venezuela. We have reached that level.

        • By the way: if I had been Capriles and I had called Maduro, I would have called him in front of international witnesses. In fact, I would have gone full Monty: I would have called for an international conference, I would have called the guy and I would have said: “Maduro, here I am holding a conference. I have this proposal”.
          No? Then forget about it. You can be sure these guys will lie and lie until the last moment unless their lives depended on it…and we haven’t reached that stage either and let’s hope we never do.

      • I agree. The less Capriles et al rely on any international opinion, the more they convince people like me that, even if they would want to, they are capable of, willing to, and even having fun with playing strictly at home with local players.

        Of course, we all kind of know both political parties have extensive consultation help from the outside. But it’s a hopeful sign that they feel they have to hide it.

      • Part of why the CNE conceded to a partial audit is because international opinion was on the MUDs side. So it is relevant.

  7. So, essentially the pendejo in this whole thing is Capriles. This is serious business, and he accepts a deal without reading the small print and having a constitutional/electoral lawyer with him when he agrees to the deal. So far, I have seen nothing but pure amateurish performance from the Capriles camp.

    • On the contrary. Capriles has placed the burden of proof squarely on the shoulders of the CNE, who has to somehow figure out a way of not looking like total sheisters. Remember theres a two pronged approach to this. Media-wise, Capriles is not about to engage the CNE in all their pataletas. Internally, OBVIOUSLY there´s a squadron of techinical consultants and lawyers making sure the CNE keeps its word. Theres no point in airing out all these minute details for the world to see, it would only confuse and muddle people´s already shady perceptions of the audit. HCR was clear: The CNE must aid in solving this political crisis. The ball´s on their court now. Once the auditing process and impugnaciones get underway, I´m sure we´ll be hearing more about how theyre not holding to their promises.

      • According to me there are 2 different phases: 1) Capriles announcing, as our leader, that we welcome and accept CNE’s proposal, understanding that it means auditing the ballots, the machines and the books; 2) The moment when we sit down with Tiby to discuss a “project charter” to define the scope, objectives participants and deadlines of the audit process and announce it to the entire country.

        If we don’t agree with Tiby’s terms then we have to leave that table immediately and never fall into technical discussions with them through the media.

        My terms:

        1) If this is an audit, lets audit the centres where I think are affected with irregularities. In other words, you can’t audit what you want to audit, you have to audit what I (we, the opposition) want to audit.

        2) Access to the books. We know that if you push the button x number of times, you are going to get the same number of ballots inside the boxes. But we are not sure that every voter pushed that button only one time so, it makes sense to audit the books. Otherwise is not a real audit.

        Now, regarding the announcements that the audit wont change the results of the elections that, simply put, is a “patada de ahogado”. If we can demonstrate to the country and the world that there was fraud, the TSJ will have to invalidate the election and the CNE will have to resign and call another electoral process… that time without her and her rojo rojitos friends.

        But again, if we don’t have CNE’s commitment in a piece of paper it will be too dangerous to start an audit process for us. But I’m sure Capriles and his team already thought of that.

      • Well, we’ll see. I’ll be too happy to be on the wrong side of this argument come a month from now. But the history and record of the opposition to date don’t leave me impressed. While Capriles may make the government look illegitimate for now, I wonder about the final outcome. Will this he said/she said drama be playing for months? If so, the government de facto has won. A month from now, the international media will have found new news, Brazil and the USA (who forced the new audit according to stories on US newspapers today) will want to forget about the dispute. Their main concerns are stability (regardless of the actor) in Venezuela–the US for oil supplies and Brazil for its juicy contracts with the Venezuelan government.

  8. I’m pretty sure that Tiby specified that none of the complaints should be done in public but in writing directly to them as a prerequisite to the audits actually happening.

    They are also under public record for promising to hand over the database of Fingerprints to be able to tell if there was double or multiple voting by the same person. However, they had promised the same for the October 7 and December 16 elections and they never came through. This fingerprint information is essential if we are to prove any fraud did happen.

  9. AJA! That’s what I say!

    While “losing” the elections Capriles has managed to:
    -Be on the spotlight of national and international media.
    -Motivate his supporters
    -Make chavistas feel like they lost
    -Discredit maduro and chavista institutions (CNE, TSJ, AN have been more one-sided than ever)
    -Obtain a victory for his followers against the chavista CNE by pressuring them to concede an audit (show he can WIN).

    To those who still don’t understand the importance of the government conceding to an audit I ask: why do you think ALL the government officials have had something to say about it? Why is the CNE trying to confuse people with these messages? Well simply, they DONT WANT Capriles’ supporters to feel like they “won the battle” and also, they are not clear on what is the best way to counter Capriles’ strategy.

    • Like the other post said: it might not look like it right now, but we are winning! Things are finally going well for us and is the MUD/Capriles the ones imposing their agenda on the government and not the other way around! When the economic crisis hits before the election issue is settled, there will be several chavistas claiming for a change of government.

  10. Welly well, Henrique is not going to take it lite!

    Henrique Capriles R. ‏@hcapriles 16min
    Auditoría es auditoría!El Pueblo Venezolano y el Mundo está de acuerdo con ella!Vamos a ver los cuadernos de votación!

    Henrique Capriles R. ‏@hcapriles 13min
    El Pueblo Venezolano no va a aceptar una FARSA!Se acordó una Auditoría y se le informó al país y al mundo,CNE CUMPLA!


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