Ask Smartmatic

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As primaries and elections loom, @LuisCarlos Diaz’s in-depth, myth-busting interview with Smartmatic’s Rui Santos (@ElRui) is well worth an hour of your time.

Longtime readers know my view here: there’s a lot that’s wrong with the way elections are run in Venezuela, but little of it has to do with the e-voting system itself, which actually includes a series of redundancies and checks that make it, at a minimum, far safer than any possible manual option.

I realize that for a slice of public opinion – and of our readership – the idea that Smartmatic cheats is obviously sacrosanct: a revealed truth beyond the need for evidence or argument. I don’t suppose those people will get much from the interview – or even sit through it, actually.

For the rest of us, this is a good primer.

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1 COMMENT

  1. Myst boosting? For someone who has no idea about computer science, this interview might be convincing.

    Belgium? I am Belgian and I can send you a bunch of links of the amounts of time we have had problems with the Smartmatic system. Fast? The areas where Smartmatic was used had more problems than the areas where it was not used and the process was not faster…
    In my case, the system even was blocked and the “jefe de mesa” had to come, see the ticket I got from the Smartmatic machine, try to get it run again. It was a mess.
    Smartmatic is trying to get to the Netherlands as well, I hope they get out of there soon, as the Dutch seem more sensible.
    Here you have one of the many links about the Smartmatic problems:
    http://datanews.knack.be/ict/nieuws/vlaanderen-eist-betere-stemcomputers-van-smartmatic/article-normal-290161.html

    The Belgian political system is indeed more complex than the German or the Norwegian one but
    the actual ballot is not. And Germany and Norway have clear results on the same day of voting.

  2. The thing about the “papelito” is an absolute joke. As we have discussed already: only if we have enough people in every voting centre and they manage to stay up to the very end to verify the counting can we be sure of things.

    You can test a computer a zillion times and get the results you expect (and a voting machine IS a computing machine) but you will never know what it will do next. There are several very simple ways to switch the system to do something else when there is no testing person around and you don’t even need to have connectivity.

    We hardly have enough people in voting centres and when we do, they are often threatened, they have to leave the place and so on when the military wants them to do so. Let’s remember Francisco believed Caldera when that guy said we had everything under control everywhere.

    What this system does is to speed up the process whereby Lucena can say “results are irreversible” and the military does whatever it wants with the boxes.

      • Francisco,

        I gave you one link showing what a mess Smartmatic has been in Belgium. I will send you more about
        how they have done in Belgium and I will compare that to what actually is in place in Germany and the Netherlands (the guy mentioned the Netherlands! the chutzpah)

        I haven’t provided proof of concrete fraud using Smartmatic, I have only mentioned time after time the reasons Germans and Dutch have not to use e-voting. Unlike them this is not “you are guilty
        only guilty if proven guilty”. For them it is “you can’t do it unless there is clear proof
        your system cannot be manipulated”

        And any digital system can be manipulated. Do you need proof for this? This is quite obvious, with or without papelito: it’s the binaries as opposed to the source code!
        Do you want me to send you a little executable that will repeat whatever you want it to repeat and send a copy of that to your printer UNLESS I tell it to do otherwise? That’s everything one needs.

        On top of that: these guys are completely devoid of any ethics. The main problem with Smarmatic in Venezuela is that it is used to declare “ventaja irreversible” and let the military caste control all the boxes
        Where on Earth but in Venezuela do we have ventajas irreversibles?
        In Germany and Norway you get clear results much earlier than in Venezuela, people declare victory and defeat but nothing is declared “irreversible” and proofs are not destroyed as they are in Venezuela.

        • “you can’t do it [implement Smartmatic] unless there is clear proof your system cannot be manipulated” — German and Dutch authorities.

          “The e-voting platform (now substituting for earlier rants with a broader repercussion: “There is No fraud! No black swan event!”) is pristine, unless you can show clear proof that the system can be manipulated. Why, here’s a $100 bill for whomever shows me proof that the system is compromised! Until then, I repeat: this is the gosh-darned best electoral system in the world. And I’ll keep saying that. Because Smartmatic is the bomb. I’ve even promoted their logo on my blog! (note to self: that should cover the $100 bill payout, at least.)” — Francisco Toro

          • I ask you to read the Belgian article I linked to. You can use Google translate. And that is just a piece of the story. I will write later this week but it is after midnight here. Bye

  3. What a freaking joke. Automated Corruption. Very convenient for our naive, uneducated people on these technological matters: they will be told “eso ‘e con computadora, compadre, automatico, no hay pele” No hay falla con el computel, se llama sohhfwhere chamo, calida’ pana, eso e’ puro intelnet!

    Results are in: Masburrismo: 55%.

  4. I would have loved a synopsis of this long rationale for Smartmatic. As it stands, there was too much verbiage and not enough cut-to-the-bone. As I didn’t listen to the complete 58:45 minutes of chatter, I don’t know if the following subject came up. And it is this:

    On the day of presidential voting, Venezuelans outside the country, who take the trouble to go to their nearest Vzlan embassy or consulate to exercise their civic duty, find at the end of the voting procedure that their votes are hand-counted and ‘urnas’ sealed, to be couriered — we are told — to Vzla the following day, But that tally of (overwhelmingly oppo) votes from around the world is NEVER ADDED to the final results in Venezuela, not even days after.

    • As for the numbers of largely oppo votes that are not included by Smartmatic or the CNE ….

      Here is a 2010 study of Vzlans abroad, their totals numbering 921,500: http://www.ultimasnoticias.com.ve/infografias/venezolanos-en-el-exterior.aspx .

      The number of Vzlans abroad has increased significantly since 2010, at least in my nearest area. Obviously not all these Vzlans abroad are of voting age, nor do they all vote. But I would wager that Vzlan voters who take the time and trouble to vote, outside Vzla, today, number at least one million.

        • Luis Lardlos is a known twitter appeaser asking people to wait until 2000 siempre when we -supposedly- reach a “landslide majority”

          I don’t trust the guy, that’s it. You read his twitter TL and feel he’s 30 seconds with government and 30 seconds with oppo.

          I don’t get why Toro gets an electoral hard on every and each year we have an election. Only to aknowledge, after we again get trampled by fraud, that elections are rigged by many means and as a consequence, unwinnable.

          Why are we showing an interview by a known appeaser to an EMPLOYEE of a firm whose duty is to fuck this country is beyond me. That video belongs to telesur, not here.

          Lardlos and the Smartmatic goon should be cracking laughs right now over our naivety.

  5. I thoroughly enjoyed this SmarmyMatic “Myth-Boosting” Hangout from Panama (not Venezuela, presumably to keep the participants from being taken quickly away by the Sebin or Collectives afterward), and fully agree with the comments of Kepler/Sledge above (no, FT, you wont lose your $100, unless someone injects JR with sodium penthotal to get him to talk), and am so completely relieved to know that I can believe in the sanctity of the Venezuelan Smartmatic eletoral system, given that it depends entirely on:1) Sufficient Oppo witnesses in the electoral centers, of which there are 40M, 5M of which are “itinerant” with no fixed location, and the other 35M are only witnessed 40% by Oppo witnesses (LL dixit); 2) The President/Members of the electoral centers being honorable/uncorruptible individuals, integrity unquestionable, as they are in Europe; 3)The accuracy of the Captahuellas fingerprinting system guaranteeing that a non-registered person cannot vote, and certainly no more than once; 4) The 99% of Venezuelans 18/+, or about 20million, registered to vote in the CNE have really physically registered, when even in the U. S., with 240 years of democracy, the number of registered voters is only 65% or so of total adults; 5) The UCAB study revealing that 14 of the 24 Venezuelan states with more registered voters than respective populations must be “incorrect” (sic); and 6) The various statistical studies that have been done showing Venezuelan voting anomalies must all be hogwash.

  6. ..votes from around the world is NEVER ADDED to the final results in Venezuela, not even days after.”

    Gotta have enough room for the Dead and the Chinese with brand new cedulas.

  7. I’m glad that Smartmatic has begun its marketing campaign to gain public confidence, ahead of the next elections, and that it can count on a google hangout of one of its employees, Rui Santos, with Panamanian-based engr Luis Carlos Díaz, as well as a published link to that hangout in Caracas Chronicles.com. Qué fino. Espero que cobraste, Quico.

    I’m also heartened by the following, starting approx. at minute 30…

    While Smartmatic can trap the irregularities that occur in a particular voting centre (due to the use of duplicated cédulas or a mismatch between fingerprints vs information on the fraudulent cédula), it cannot do so when that same fraudulent cédula is used in another voting centre — until the next election. Meaning, there is no real time electronic policing by Smartmatic or the CNE. The irregularities are simply reported to the CNE, we’re told.

    Never mind that the public will ever know of these “caught” irregularities; the CNE is mum on the matter. And never mind that the fraud can be exercised in another centre. The important thing to remember is that as Smartmatic informs on those irregularities, and the CNE builds up its data base of (oh-so-secret) fraudulent activities, “el cerco se va cerrando”.

    Have I understood correctly? If so, espejitos por oro.

    Why didn’t the Carter Centre ever mention the existence of this particular fraud, when it gave its papal blessing to the regime’s use of Smartmatic machines?

    Does this hangout mean that Toro, who has long been adamant that no fraud exists in the Smartmatic-controlled vote, now sees that fraud is possible?

        • Yep. Smartass comments to cover up ignorance and shifting positions, sprinkled with calls of ad hominems, but only if the arrows go in Toro’s direction. Pathetic.

          • Jesus fucking christ Syd did you wake up on the deranged bitch side of the bed today. First you libel me by suggesting Smartmatic is paying me – below even your dignity, I would’ve thought. Then you think you have a winning argument when you demand that I prove a negative. (The derp really is off the charts here!)

            Now this.

            Listen, it’s pretty simple. Election after election year after year, for almost a decade thousands of volunteers at voting centers all over Venezuela have put on some *very* long days overseeing voting and have closed those days by MANUALLY COUNTING the comprobantes de voto from a random sample of voting machines, then checking them against the machine tallies.

            Year after year, election after election for almost a decade I’ve made the simple, limited, fairly self-evident claim that IF the machines were changing the votes, the audit counts wouldn’t match the machine counts, and that would be pretty damn obvious to everybody.

            Year after year, election after election I’ve challenged someone, anyone, to just show even ONE audit tally that fails to match its corresponding machine tally. No such evidence has ever been put forward by anyone, including by the HCR Campaign, which never alledged this in its 2013 impugnación.

            All these years later you CONTINUE to claim a fraud for which you not only have no proof but the absolutely crushing weight of evidence against you simply refuse to acknowledge.

            En serio, chama, revísate…you don’t have a position about this, you have a faith.

          • I mean cripes, you’d think some of you would at least stop to take stock of the situation and accept that it is, at the very least, curious that I still have my $100 bill. That you’d pause and look around and say “gee that’s odd.” That you’d have the minimal detachment to think “jeepers, maybe this is something we should address when we just flat out assert that there’s rampant fraud.”

            But to do that you’d have to sit down and THINK IT THROUGH which you’re utterly unprepared to do.

            Cripes does this idiocy make me cross!

  8. You know that these interviews are bought and paid for, right? Native advertisement at it’s finest.

    • And another ad hominem!

      So far, I’m counting a grand total of ZERO arguments. At all.

      It’s clear that the idea that the e-voting system is corrupt is an article of faith for a number of you, previous from and separate to any given process of logic or argumentation.

      Of course, if you’d actually watched the video – which none of you are doing – you’d learn all kinds of uncomfortable facts like, say, that out of the seven allegations in Capriles’s 2013 impugnación only one had anything to do with the e-voting system, and not even the most important one.

      Look, there’s lots wrong with the Venezuelan election system, but little of it has to do with the e-voting platform.

      • “Of course, if you’d actually watched the video – which none of you are doing – ”

        Bullshit, Toro, on the “none”. I, for one, first mentioned that I hadn’t watched all of it, followed by another comment, above, indicating that I had (up to beyond minute 30). So do us all a favour and try to be accurate when you’re lambasting. Your credibility is already well on the line, so easily have you been duped, time and again, on the integrity of electronic voting in Vzla.

      • “So far, I’m counting a grand total of ZERO arguments. At all.”

        So, the man himself who is blogging about the demise of Venezuela since 1999 cannot find arguments on why venezuelan voting system is rigged with smartmatic’s help.

        A mundoooo

  9. Yo si creo en mi Comandante Chavez, Capitan Masburro y las Elexiones Bolibanana Rebolusionaria SmartMatic!!

  10. FraudMatic:

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB116493756785237566

    Smartmatic has drawn attention because of concerns that the government of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, an opponent of U.S. policies, has a stake in the company. That is a focus of the Cfius review. In 2004, Smartmatic’s machines were used in an election to recall President Chávez, which Mr. Chávez won handily — and which members of the Venezuelan opposition say was riddled with fraud. Smartmatic machines will be used Sunday in Venezuela’s presidential election.

    Essentially, the Justice Department is looking into whether Smartmatic got its start in Venezuela by bribing officials and then improperly avoiding its tax liability in the U.S. The company says it paid $1.5 million to a Venezuelan consultant who is close to the Chávez government and helped to win Smartmatic business.

    The allegation being investigated is that Smartmatic actually paid as much as $4 million to the consultant, then deleted a substantial portion of those payments from its corporate records to hide the extent of its payments to a friend of the Chávez regime. .

    Que guiso tan bueno!!

  11. I guess its my turn to be clobbered , I havent seen the whole video, but the impression I have is that the problem lies not in the electronic system itself but in other kind of irregularities which have to do how the process is handled inside and outside the voting booth and that much of it has to do with the need for the activities in all voting tables to be appropiately monitored by competent and resolved oppo witnesses .

    I was surprised by the minimum margin by which Maduro officially won the election , If you had the system rigged the margin should have been more convincingly large . This election was all important for the regime and I think there is evidence , specially on the forensics side that many irregularities were committed to obtain that win but not any significant evidence that it was primarily done by electronical manipulation of the numbers .

    Ill try and see the whole video and then maybe I ll change my mind , meantime Ill give the smarmatic presentation the benefit of my doubt.

    • Actually, the interview is fully compatible with your view.

      Rui, the smartmatic guy, can obviously answer only for the e-voting system, which he does well. He’s in no position to slam CNE, of course, but again and again in the interview you can see how it’s in that direction the difficulties lie.

      • “He’s in no position to slam CNE, of course,…”
        Try the active voice, Toro. As in: “He knows he’ll be out of a job, and his owners — for whom naïveté does not apply — out of a client, if he or they slam the CNE.”

      • Love your tippy toes, Toro: “you can see how it’s in that direction the difficulties lie.”
        Difficulties?
        Care to be specific, Toro? Or are we going see another dance to frame your “no fraud” stamp of approval on the electronic voting in Venezuela?

  12. “Implications

    It is extremely worrying that a company funded with seed money from the Hugo Chavez regime has been selected to run elections in countries around the world. As can be gathered from press reports, Smartmatic is yet to run one electoral process, anywhere in the world, in which fraud allegations and irregularities have not been made. From Venezuela to the Philippines, from the USA to Mexico, every single contract awarded to Smartmatic has been marred with allegations of bribes, and corruption, and the company is yet to come out of the closet and present credible evidence that, indeed, it purchased from Hugo Chavez the 28% stake acquired originally through proxy Omar Montilla.”

    Delightful.

    • . (C) The Venezuelan-owned Smartmatic Corporation is a
      riddle both in ownership and operation, complicated by the
      fact that its machines have overseen several landslide (and
      contested) victories by President Hugo Chavez and his
      supporters. The electronic voting company went from a small
      technology startup to a market player in just a few years,
      catapulted by its participation in the August 2004 recall
      referendum. Smartmatic has claimed to be of U.S. origin, but
      its true owners — probably elite Venezuelans of several
      political strains — remain hidden behind a web of holding
      companies in the Netherlands and Barbados. The Smartmatic
      machines used in Venezuela are widely suspected of, though
      never proven conclusively to be, susceptible to fraud. The
      company is thought to be backing out of Venezuelan electoral
      events, focusing now on other parts of world, including the
      United States via its subsidiary, Sequoia. End Summary.

  13. Look, it’s pretty simple. At every voting machine, there’s a paper trail: the comprobante de voto you deposit on your way out of the voting booth.

    That paper-trail is audited, then matched against the electronic results.

    About 10 years ago I offered to mail a crisp, clean, $100 bill to anybody who managed to show me even ONE instance of an acta de totalización that didn’t match the paper-audit acta.

    I still have that $100 bill.

    Out of thousands of actas produced over a dozen elections and audited by tens of thousands of witnesses, mysteriously, the paper-trail audit always matches the electronic tally.

    But Smartmatic cheats, cuz Alek Boyd doesn’t like the owners!

    • Of course the paper trail matches the voting machine tally, even in the 60% of voting centers with no Oppo. witnesses–the Regime may be dumb, but they’re not that stupid. As the SmarmyMatic rep says in your video (which I saw completely), each voting center receives the info on the Cedula numbers/names of that part of the at least 6 million “registered voters” who never really registered that corresponds to each center. From there, with inoperable/turned off fingerprint machines, and “honorable/uncorruptible” voting center officials, unencumbered by those pesky Oppo witnesses, the machines “vote” those really unregistered voters, and even if necessary those registered but who have never/rarely voted, and the boxes stuffed with corresponding tallying paper vouchers, at will. Why else do you think that the Regime has an impossible 99% eligible voter registration, in a Country where voter registration is not compulsory, and has14 of 24 Venezuelan states with more voters registered than total respectve populations–because of the Regime’s love of “universal suffrage”? Luckily, RD’s recent Senate Sub-Committee testimony began by spotlighting electoral fraud in Venezuela, and mentioning it will be very difficult to unseat this criminal enterprise by electoral means.

      • Opening the voting center voter-signed/Cedula numbers written “Cuadernos” is a Regime No-No, and that is why it was denied to Captiles by the TSJ, because it is here that the Pedro Pelotes, et. al., of Venezuela, who have not registered to vote, or are registered but did not vote, might discover that they were voted for….

  14. Voto FraudeMatic Elctronico: perfecto para pueblos sin educacion como el nuestro, puro Intelllne, chamo! Eso no falla!

    “Al contrario de lo está sucediendo en Europa, en Venezuela continuamos con un sistema electrónico que le arrebató al pueblo el derecho a elegir al confiscarle el control sobre el proceso electoral. El sistema electoral venezolano ya no le pertenece ni lo controla el pueblo. Le pertenece a una empresa privada, SMARTMATIC, y al gobierno, y su control pasó a ser una cuestión de expertos. Por tanto, no existe ningún asunto que los venezolanos podamos dirimir a través del voto electrónico. La idea planteada en la nueva constitución de que la soberanía no reside en el voto, es un hecho vigente desde que el gobierno se la apropió a través de SMARTMATIC en el 2004.

    Como todo sistema electrónico, el sistema es una caja negra para todos los electores venezolanos. Sólo si todos fuéramos ingenieros electrónicos o de sistemas podríamos saber si los resultados electorales reflejan fidedignamente la voluntad popular. Y aún así, no es fácil para los especialistas demostrar si un sistema ha sido “intervenido” para hacer fraude, pero lo que si saben los especialistas –como los de Holanda- es que es posible hacerlo.

    SMARTMATIC ha dicho que su sistema es muy seguro. ¿Y quién va a creerle? Ni que los venezolanos fuéramos tontos. SMARTMATIC es una empresa contratista del gobierno. Una contratista privilegiada, ya que tiene contratados tres jugosos paquetes con el gobierno: el sistema de votación del CNE, el Sistema Unificado Automatizado de Seguridad y Salud (SUASS) de la Alcaldía Mayor [5] y el sistema de inscripción de los militantes del PSUV [6] . Con razón dice el ex-residente del CNE Jorge Rodríguez que en este partido, que aún no nace, hay casi 6 millones de aspirantes a inscritos. ¡Debieran ser más de 10 millones!

    • Bueno, the way you’re marshalling evidence in this thread does at least lend *strong* support to your contention in other threads that the main problem in the Venezuelan public sphere is that ignorance and lack of education leave you talking to people who can’t distinguish invective from argument, evidence from innuendo or a reliable source from some guy ranting on the internet…

      • Read and weep. I hope you are either very very dumb (naive) or that you’re super-enchufao and getting rich out of this SCAM called “smartmatic”.

        • I don’t even mind that you question my ethics on the basis of zero evidence at all. We’ve already seen evidence is clearly not your strong suit.

          What I find revolting is that you casually dismiss the HARD WORK of thousands of testigos and miembros de mesa up and down the country who work brutal hours election after election counting the paper ballots at the end of each election to ensure that they match the machine ballots. Your problem isn’t me. You’re problem is them: thousands of decent, regular people (monos, as you charmingly referred to them not long ago) have put in millions of man-hours verifying the result of each voting center on the night of the vote.

          And we’re still to find a discrepancy between the hand-tally and the machine-tally!

          Spin away until you bury yourself. I’m not your problem. THAT’s your problem.

    • Smartmatic, propiedad del venezolano Antonio Mugica, ha tenido a cargo la transmisión de resultados electorales en varios países, entre ellos, las elecciones presidenciales en Venezuela en enero anterior cuando resultó ganador Nicolás Maduro, resultados que fueron impugnados por el candidato de la oposición, Henrique Capriles, quien aseguró que hubo fraude y pidió el recuento de todos los votos, pero el Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE) de ese país, las ratificó como válidas.

      Esa misma compañía estuvo en el ojo del huracán en 2006, al incursionar al mercado electoral estadounidense y tras la compra de la empresa Sequoia Voting System con la cual participó en las votaciones en el condado de Cook en Chicago, donde las máquinas electrónicas que utilizó dicha compañía “no funcionaron correctamente”, lo cual fue calificado como un “desastre” por las autoridades locales.

      La misma fue investigada por el Comité de Inversiones Extranjeras en los Estados Unidos (CFIUS, por sus siglas en inglés), reportaron en su momento los importantes periódicos The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post y The New York Times, de Estados Unidos y retomados por los periódicos digitales El Universal, de Venezuela, y Crónica.com.mx, de México.

      “Smartmatic International Group es propiedad principalmente de fundaciones controladas por tres venezolanos – Mugica, Roger Pinate y Alfredo Anzola. Era una pequeña empresa hasta que venció a Election Systems & Software Nebraska en 2004 para un contrato de suministro de la tecnología de votación en Venezuela. Con millones de dólares en ganancias de ese contrato, Smartmatic compró Sequoia el año pasado de una empresa británica por unos $16 millones. Sequoia suministra máquinas electrónicas de votación por lo menos en una docena de estados (de Estados Unidos)”, publicó The Washington Post el 31 de octubre de 2006.

      “Una falla en el uso de máquinas de votación de Sequoia en las primarias de marzo en Chicago dio lugar a preguntas acerca de la estructura corporativa de Smartmatic, que tiene su sede en las Antillas Holandesas en el Caribe, pero en manos de nacionales venezolanos”, reportó el mismo periódico.

      El nuevo presidente de Smartmatic, Jack A. Blaine, “reconoció en una audiencia pública que los trabajadores de Smartmatic habían volado de Venezuela para ayudar con la votación”, cita The New York Times.

      Añade dicho periódico que “algunos problemas con la elección más tarde fueron atribuidas a un componente de software que transmite los resultados de la votación a un ordenador central, que se desarrolló en Venezuela”.

      ¿Conspiración chavista?

      OF COURSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

    • HOLY COW does this topic bring out the derp in people.

      Ferchrissake. OK. I always trust a human more than a machine. That’s why I trust the audit tally. The audit tally systematically reflects the machine tally!!

  15. I trust ElRui. For that:

    – The electronic voting system has limitations. So does your smartphone. Get over it.
    – I don’t trust voting centers newly created by CNE. There’s where the “free” in free & fair elections suffers.
    – There has only been one improvement to the system in 11 years, clearly reflecting a stagnation caused by CNE on the electronic voting system.
    – The rest is a powerful public will for Smartmatic to fail so that the Venezuelan government gets discredited, as if Chávez/Maduro themselves hadn’t done enough to accomplish just that.

    Go, go, Power Ranger! #In-joke

  16. By the way, Francisco: Smartmatic does not use finger prints in the areas of Belgium where it is used.
    Why? People here would never accept that. It is, among other things, fear of lack of secrecy. And it doesn’t matter whether the ID is linked to the vote. Here in Europe it is enough that people might fear that.

    And now tell me “well, it’s because Europeans are more irrational than Venezuelans. Pedro Pérez doesn’t fear that and you, Kep, don’t have any field study produced by some Caracas guy proving Venezuelans like Pedro Pérez might be afraid of the captahuellas”.