You think your job is tough? My job is to explain to foreigners what the hell happened on Sunday.

Venezuelan elections aren’t free and they’re certainly not fair, but they are competitive: After all, the opposition did walk off with five governorships, including Zulia, the nation’s most populous state. The resulting optics are just democratic enough to buy the government a minimum of democratic credibility abroad without seriously imperilling its hold on power. From Maduro’s point of view, it’s the best of both worlds: a real election win in a fake democracy.

Oy. Vey.

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55 COMMENTS

  1. Francisco, with all due respect, this is bullshit! I don’t know why it’s so hard to understand that totalization fraud is possible. I am more than happy to demonstrate how based on all the work ESDATA did for years. If you are genuinely interested, I am happy to broker a meeting with their top technical experts who since then have worked preventing fraud in elections all around the world including Germany and Belgium.

    In order to prove fraud when votes are totalizad you need to open ALL the ballots and actually count the votes. This has never been done and was hesitantly attempted in Capriles vs Maduro where apparently not even he knew he had committed fraud initially.

    However even though not proven, it does leave a trail of statistically significant differences between the ballot boxes “randomly” opened and the ones that were not.

  2. They are not free.
    They are not fair.
    What in the world does it mean that they are “competitive”?

    If there’s one thing that’s finally easy to explain to foreigners is that they have stolen the election, once again.

  3. You say you have a tough job explaining the election to foreigners. I am a foreigner and have read both your explanations. You explained that the Chavistas have enormous popular support in your country winning 54% of the millions of vote cast. Apparently you believe that if all of the oppisition voters had voted perhaps the opposition would havd narrowly prevailed. You have repeatedly told us foreigners that the Chavistas are starving millions of its people and have destroyed the economy and democracy. Yet despite these facts, the Chavistas still win elections Explain to this foreigner why he should support any form of intervention including economic sanctions when the Chavistas achieved a real win. The Europeans have Brexit, Catalonia and enormous division over immigration. The US is profoundly divided over Trump and have real problems with North Korea and Iran. Your explanation boils down to the fact your country is deeply divided and any form of intervention merely helps one side in a possible civil war. You sir, may be a great reporter, but you are a lousy advocate.

    • Mr.William Crisipin:

      I assure you that Mr Toro’ s point of view is not shared by the majority of venezuelans. Most venezuelans understand that we can’ t trust our electoral system. In fact, many talented and hard-working venezuelans did warn about the risks of participating in such fake elections , but their voices were put aside and silenced by the likes of Mr. Toro. For some reason the politicians want to force people to participate in rigged elections. I invite you not to trust in politicians, but actually to hear the people. Then you will see the courage and determination that makes the venezuelans worthy of your attention and help.

      Venezuela is not divided. You can’ t measure how popular or unpopular a dictatorship is by reading the results of fake elections. This is what some don’ t understand. Many are forced to vote for the dictatorship. Many people don’ t have a choice. If you only look at the numbers, you will never realize that. But, unlike Toro, most venezuelans do understand what is happening and look beyond the numbers.

      I Invite you to hear different voices.

      • I do hear different voices on this excellent website. I have heard that food is scarce; that public safety is non-existant and that inflation is devestating your country. I have heard that from the full specctrum of voices here both left and right. Because I accept these undisputed facts I do not accept the fact that the Chavistas can win in a fair election. Just who would vote for anyone whose governance produced a living hell. Am I wrong about that? Is it not a living hell?Chico says otherwise, not just once but twice that people who live in a living hell freely and fairly elected the Chavistas. And he wrote this in an influential newspaper here in our capital where the decision about the extent of financial sanctions will be made.This is not personal. I praised his testmony before a congressional committee and I was impressed by his performance in the recent documentary. I even accepted his point that Venezuelans should vote in these regional elections even though I was very suspicious about their fairness.

        • Insofar as the analysis here can be good, sometimes it’s just a debate forum with hot takes from contributors. Like many reputable newspapers, they have an agenda, and the points they make are political (this is inevitable)

        • There is no secret that this forum is certain in the side of the opposition and I like it is. What makes a great difference between CC and Aporrea if you would allow that sort of comparison on the spectrum of pro/against on-line forums (ok, before you jump Aporrea is not a forum), it is the high level of freedom allowed for the contributors.

          I think that since CC has evolved into a business, Mr. Toro lost some freedoms and/or he is more comfortable on showing his bias. I not saying that he should keep this thing going for free, on the contrary he took CC from Mr. Nagel and transformed into a unpretentious yet somehow arrogant Venezuelan news power house. The other one, Pro Da Vinci is perhaps a tad more sober and balanced but it is in Spanish (and it is not a forum).

          I am not hurt by Mr. Toro approach because I don’t expect him to retract from his weak position. He has shown a high level of stubbornness in the past and history has proven him wrong many times (like this one).

          However, I am afraid that he still commands a level of prestige with international news entities. Prestige that he deserves nevertheless. The danger there is to allow his bias to take the lead like it happen with the last opinion article in the WP. That burns the credibility capital which is what keeps Mr. Toro relevant and projects like CC alive and striving.

    • The foreigner will understand that the form of abuse the regime has engaged in is equally deserving of international condemnation as the form of abuse you would prefer it was.

  4. Almagro nailed it by saying that an illegitimate govt (ie. illegit ANC) can only have fraudulent and illegitimate elections. That’s pretty clear to me.

  5. I agree that if there was blatant cheating the smoking gun has to appear, such as Smartmatic’s declaration.

    Now emotionally, the choices are untenable. As a Venezuelan you MUST believe there was blatant cheating or come to terms that Venezuelan populace has given up, i.e. they are losers.

  6. You’re doing a grave mistake by siding with chavismo on this, Mr. Toro, you know that chavismo tampered with the numbers in the elections in the same way they did with the prostituyente by sticking millions of fake votes via multi-cedulados and number switching in the CÑE’s situational rooms.

  7. William, you make a good point. The ‘non-fraud fraud’ bit is a cop out. The creation of a fraudulent ANC delegitimizes all subsequent elections.

  8. Let me make your job easier Quico.

    Lets say the Chavistas had 17% of the population, MUD had 27% and the rest 56% does not like either. With all the tricks, including massive ballot stuffing where there are no Oppo witnesses Chavistas magically turn their 39/61 disadvantage, into a 54/46 drubbing and you think that is not fraud, but competitive?

    Quico, that is called FRAUD, anywhere in the world that is FRAUD.

  9. “The grim reality is that the opposition’s morale is at rock bottom. Over the past few months Venezuela has been rocked by a protest movement that resulted in more than a hundred people dead, hundreds of others imprisoned, and the government’s hold on power undiminished. Exhaustion has set in.”

    It’s curious that you don’t mention that MUD taking part in these “competitive elections” by asking the people to go home and stop the street protests, completely betraying, exhausting and alienating its own supporter base, is connected with the miserable status quo we witness.

    It’s also a shame that exhausted MUD was not exhausted enough to take part in meaningless fraudulent elections (by Western standards). That’s one of those classical cases that to not have done anything would have been so much better.

    Anyway, a new political force must rise to represent Venezuelans still willing to be free. A non-comeflor political force that will never compromise their honor nor bow down to tyrants.

  10. Part of the “non-fraud” is how sectors of the MUD itself have been sabotaging any attempts to win the election, Mr. Toro mentioned in another article that “there wasn’t fraud because MUD had all the actas”, which is, dissapointingly, false.

    There have been several reports that in several states there’s a lack of even a staggering THIRTY PERCENT of the actas that the MUD witnesses should have taken with them, in fact, such a high percentage happened in Miranda, where the governorship was stolen by the dictatorship.

    Trying to continue blaming this problem on “those who didn’t vote but are less than the 1%” or “it’s because it’s something intangible in the venezuelan-ship” is to play the dictatorship’s game, as those claims merely serve to empower the fallacy that they’re more.

    The video is in spanish, but these accusations are incredibly serious and would confirm that there are factors in the MUD that are openly working for the dictatorship:

    https://youtu.be/t1CNJOZvB80

  11. Oh please Quico. Just admit that Almagro is right and the MUD IS cooperating with the regime in the election where they pulled numbers of their asses, again.

    The world is tired to hear excuses of why the fuck the Venezuelan people have to accept the conditions that chavismo imposes. “Because they have the guns” is an admission that a democratic solution is impossible, the rest is just decieving yourselves.

  12. Aunque lo de competitive sea muy discutible, me parece un artículo acertado que, como bien recuerda, intenta explicar algo que no es nada fácil de explicar. Ya solo queda reconocer que ir a las elecciones fue un error por parte de la oposición, que no se gana nada cuando el dictador por ejemplo te está esperando para jurar los cargos en la ANC… Una vez que se reconozcan las meteduras de pata (algo realmente duro para cualquier político), tendrán los opositores la posibilidad de diseñar un posible camino para salir de ese enorme agujero.

  13. We often have similar election results here in the US. The mechanism that allows it is perfectly legal. It is called Gerrymandering. The best way to explain it is that the politicians select the voters. Not the other way around.

    It could simply be that Maduro and his party have Gerrymandered the districts and voter rolls to give them the edge they need where they need it.

    • It’s impossible to gerrymander a gubernatorial election. There are no districts, just the whole state. The list of what they did is long, just plain fraud from beginning to end.

      • Ah. I didn’t know they they don’t have districts with a winner-takes-all structure like we have in the US.

        Yes, if it is a state-wide popular vote, then you are correct. Gerrymander doesn’t apply.

  14. Venezuela is in the grips of a sophisticated form of authoritarianism. You’ve explained how it works- from what is observable- very well. It is not a satisfactory explanation if the idea is to equate the regime with less sophisticated forms: Cuba, North Korea. But there are precedents to this method of holding elections: Russia, Mexico under the PRI, Turkey is emerging as a leader in the form.

    The great achievement for the regime is to have its opponents fighting among themselves over semantics.

    And for those who want certainty that there are no options other than military options, describing the form of authoritarianism in any nuanced way is cast as a kind of betrayal.

    The fact is, if the system is not monolithic and impregnable, there are options and strategies still in the hands of Venezuelans for replacing it. But this suggests hope, which is the ultimate offense among some internet patriots.

  15. Bobolandia.

    How did psuv get more votes in a regional election than Chávez in a presidential election?

    Indeed half of the “municipios” voted more chavista now than when Ch was alive. Psuv got more votes en el estado Miranda in 6 out of 21 municipalities (Buroz, Acevedo, Andrés Bello, Brion, Páez y Pedro Gual).

    Now regionales is lesser than presidenciales.

    So let’s compare regionales vs regionales. In the six municipalities aforementioned psuv voted like this:

    2017 2012
    90k votes 60k votes

    Psuv increased by 50% the votes or 30k votes. The number of registered voters only increased by 8k.

    Psuv got less votes in 2017 than in 2012 in the rest (where more witnesses and educated witnesses show up). For instance, in Baruta, Chacao, Los Salias, Leoncio Martínez (in Sucre) and the Capital of the state Los Teques (in Guicaipuro) psuv lost votes in this election

    Recap: in six small municipalities psuv increased by 50% and in the more controlled and observed they lost votes. And this happened in the same Estado Miranda.

    Now let’s take alook at Chacao: in 2012 (regionales) psuv got 15,22% of the votes. In 2017 they got 15,81%. Very similar portion as expected. No up no down. But how they had so many voters that did not vote for them in 2012 (78k out of 86k registered voters ) and they could not get better in 2017?

    Psuv vs psuv in Chacao:

    2017 2012
    5.9k votes 6.9k votes

    They lost more than 1k. Remember in 2012 only 8% (6.9 out of 86 registered voters) voted psuv. And now only 7% of registered voters voted psuv.

    Let’s go back to Acevedo or Pedro Gual, psuv vs psuv:

    Municipality. 2017 2012 %growth
    Acevedo: 30.2k 20.1k 50%
    Pedro Gual: 7.8k 4.6k 70%

    In Acevedo psuv got 20.1k out 56k registered voters, so 36k voters did not vote for psuv in 2012. But now psuv got 30.2k voters out of 57k registered voters. Opposition went down from 11k to 9k now.

    But opposition went down in Chacao from 38.5k to 30.9k (20% less votes). And in Acevedo went down as well from 11k to 9k (18%). And psuv voters in Chacao went down from 6.9k to 5.9k (15% less votes).

    So the voters in the small munipalities from the opposition and the the voters in the rest of the municipalities (from opposition and psuv) were reduced by 15-20%. But the psuv voters in the small municipalities were increased by 50%.

    See the trick now? 50% more psuv votes in small municipalities vs -15% everywhere.

    How that happened?

    Remember “tinta indeleble”? It was used in every election but not in 2017.

    Do you know about “carné de la patria”? It was used in 2017 to allow a person to vote.

    Now is it possible that a person (professional multivoter) to vote more than once?

    Let’s assume that such a person goes with 100 carnés de la patria to the poll station. Can he vote more than once in let’s say Chacao? Well, remember that there the opposition has witnesses really well supported and protected by the neighborhood.

    But what happens in small municipalities like Acevedo or Brion?

    Probably no opposition witnesses from 5 am till 9pm. Maybe they are invited to lunch. Maybe they are not educated. Or maybe, because they live there, they are threaten by thugs (colectivos, police, or plan república members) who are some of his neighbors.

    So the guy with the carnés de la patria goes early in the morning ( no need to wait in lines because probably he has some other id to let him in asap like a cne id or fand ib or a medico id).

    So he starts voting more than once. But what about the captahuella? Remember the captahuellas does not have the huellas of all voters. And actually are the captahuellas audited?

    And remember in small centers cne can let this professional multivoter go ahead with his “job”. No witnesses. No observadores. No téstigos. Only the fanb- cne-psuv.

    And Who are the cne? The same people who said that more than 8 million “voters” voted in the “constituyente”.

    Who are the fanb? Remember the fanb member who shot and killed the kid in la Carlota? This shooter is still free and still a member of the fanb.

    Who are the psuv? An endless nightmare.

    And what about the opposition leaders (or puppets???)?

    Well HRA is happy because he won 4 gobernaciones. Who believed that back in 2012 when this fellow was a “muerto político”. What about PJ? Happy because the large estado Zulia is theirs and they only care about being better than VP. What about VP? Surrendered? Well nobody knows and it’s really sad.

    So don’t keep saying or writing bullshit. It’s FRAUDE.

      • Well, the CNE has results down to that level, although working with them is hard.

        http://www.cne.gob.ve/web/estadisticas/index_resultados_elecciones.php

        For some reason the 2015 AN election results aren’t available, but the rest are working ok right now.

        Also, the 2017 election results are here http://www.cne.gob.ve/resultados_regionales2017/

        You can check evidence of fraud in Bolivar state results, for example pick MP. Heres, PQ La Sabanita, Escuela Básica Nacional José Luis Afanador.

        That voting centre has 6 tables (“mesas”), if you pick the mesa 1, the results show that 664 people voted out of 701, for an impressive 94.72% turnout. Chavista candidate wins that table 502-160 (75.6-24.1%)

        Every single other table on that voting centre (2.6) shows turnout between 54-59%, and MUD candidate winning between 50-60% of the vote.

        These results defy credulity. If you check them against the “actas” that Andrés Velasquez has been sharing on Twitter, the fraud is obvious.

        • Many thanks. The results were not previously visible on the CNE site – to me at least. I will start to put together a scraping package.

          Your voting centre example highlights the issue of irregular voting, and may be suggestive of fraudulent addition of votes, but it is not on its own definitive. If there are a thousand cases (say) of multi-table voting centres in a state, then you should expect to find one or two voting centres where the distribution between tables falls into the category of “less than a one-in-a-thousand chance of occurrence”. So we are not allowed to troll through the population until we find something unusual or suspicious and then use it for inference. This is cherry-picking.
          On the other hand, if examination of the entire population of voting centres (1000) reveals the occurrence of 15 such cases of highly unlikely distribution (less than on-in-a-thousand chance) then the probability of this occurring by chance becomes infinitesimally small, and we can then reasonably infer that the voting shares are not randomly associated with tables within each centre (which they should be). This would be prima facie evidence of vote-rigging.
          Thanks again.

  16. Of course it’s a FRAUD. You don’t even need multiple cedulas. Freddy Guevara usually does a fair job getting Oppo witnesses at polling stations, but even in the Capriles stolen Presidentiai, he promised 100% coverage, but let slip in an interview he only got 45%, and, I assume even much less in this hastily called/contrived Gubernatorial election. In 50+% voting centers with no Oppo witnesses, the Govt. simply “votes” whomever they wish of the at least 7mm or more of the non-existent “voluntarily registered” eligible voters, and stuffs their names in the ballot box. Forget the “Captahuellas”, most green-light everyone, if they’re even connected to a data base at all, much less one maintained up-to-date. And, finally, the Smartmatic/other machine Cuban designed/originated probably bi-directional software can alter any final result at will, anyway. Why the reticence by the Govt. to compare voting center machine votes with paper ballots, except only, if at all, at carefully selected centers so as not to show discrepancies–because, they would show the large numbers of voters who not only did not really vote, but who are NOT EVEN VOLUNTARILY REGISTERED TO VOTE.

  17. Después de lo que pasó con la constituyente y las declaraciones de smarmatic, nadie realmente esperaba que la MUD participase en las regionales. La MUD decidió participar libremente. sin presión de ningún tipo, Si hubiera decidido no participar, la comunidad internacional la hubiera respaldado. Mi punto es que debemos entender dos cosas 1)La MUD no es confiable y debe ser expuesta y sepultada 2)La vía electoral no es posible.

  18. Sorry Quico, I’m a big fan of this site; I think your analysis is usually on point. But this article (and the other CC post) is too bold in its claims about a highly uncertain process, endangers our movement’s (that’s right, not just the MUD’s) opportunities at seeking help abroad, and doesn’t even offer a critique of the MUD’s regional campaign (see: people were given few good reasons to vote, state powers are minimal in Venezuela regularly, add to that dictatorship, horrible timing by HRA, and no national Oppo platform developed yet).

    At best, this is a promotional “hot take”. At worst, conspiracists would say it is an attempt to legitimize AD’s governorships.

    “Venezuela’s democracy is fake, but the government’s latest election win was real”

    Just the headline English-speaking readers need to see, in Washington DC of all places. Really will definitely help push an already-hesitant American public, a plagued administration, and a sluggish US congress into supporting the efforts of the opposition (MUD or not MUD) into helping us out in Venezuela. /s

    “The government declared that its electoral technology enabled it to know exactly who had voted”
    This tactic was announced for the ANC too. Why exactly did chavismo not get 5.5 million votes then? I’m sure there are reasons, but you never explain.

    “Out of the 10,800,016 votes cast, 54 percent really did go to the government.”
    Did they? Was there transparency? International observers? Opposition observers at all centers?
    I love how you are asking for ballots as proof of fraud, yet you don’t ask for ballots as proof of a lack of fraud. Can we really apply Occam’s razor after the ANC fraud? After Smartmatic was fired? After indelible ink was taken away? No, not with all the countless assumptions you introduce here.

    No mention of evident fraud in Bolivar, because apparently all of Venezuela is Miranda.

    “The grim reality is that the opposition’s morale is at rock bottom.”
    Claiming a(n unclear) win for chavismo, when we should be focusing on what we do next, is not helping.

  19. So RS digs the hole, FT jumps in, then pulls the dirt in over himself and buries his dwindling credibility with the WaPo article. The WaPo Cheeseman (well-named, I’m sure) comment commenter, as to how much Cheeseman was being paid, by syllable, or by word, does not, in my opinion, apply to FT, but others do, like, “With friends like you, who needs enemies?”, and, even more appropriately, “Come down from the Ivory Tower and get your feet dirty in Venezuela’s realpolitik realities”….

  20. A note of support for FT. It must be quite hard to publish an article every day on a website where a clear record is kept, and where everyone can go back and pick out exact words and phrases made months ago. This is especially true when apparently no one in Venezuela has come up with a way to even get ahead of the regime, let alone come up with a functional plan to unseat it. FT is supposed to come up with such a plan, see everything the regime is doing and everything the MUD is doing?

    Perfectly OK to disagree, to point out flaws in reasoning, and better, to clarify the picture. But at the same time, putting all of one’s thoughts on record is a hazardous business. I was dead wrong about Padrino Lopez – but no one gives a hoot what I say, so I don’t “pay for it”. Looks like I was dead wrong about participating in the “elections” (but who gives a hoot?). There are other guys making comments here that could be shredded in an instant, if those were an lead article. There are also commenters here who are consistently astute with 20-20 perception, and turn out to be amazingly correct.

    What “interests readers” is probably the major contributing factor to the deterioration of journalism to hyper-reporting fires, murders, and sex scandals. This site does publish informative facts and the “human interest” stories aren’t to “attract attention”.

  21. Quienes no votamos lo hicimos porque asumimos desde el inicio que no sólo había que desconfiar de la dictadura, sino también de la MUD.

    Si uno está abierto a aceptar la posibilidad de que la MUD es un actor corrupto, entonces todo lo que está pasando se hace más fácil de entender. Algunas cosas quedaron en evidencia.

    Lamentablemente, todavía hay personas que consideran a la MUD un actor legítimo, y ésta todavía cuenta con demasiados recursos.

    Todo lo que está pasando se puede explicar fácilmente si uno acepta que la MUD es un actor corrupto.

    • The MUD is a sham. It is a few personalistic parties without any clear agenda for the country. They also barely talk to each other. We need a national, grass-roots level movement.

      But there are good actors within the MUD that also need to be part of our movement. Thousands of their activists dieron el pellejo por nosotros, and have been jailed unfairly by the regime. Hay que sumar, no restar.

  22. The constituyente “election” pretty much proved that the chavistas could get the electoral systems to spit out whatever results they wanted or required. So these results, like those, are very much like a good magician’s trick. You know they’re an illusion, but you’re not quite sure how they pulled it off. Unless they tell, and they won’t.
    Just remember.

    David Copperfield did not REALLY make the Statue of Liberty disappear!

  23. Mr Toro,
    I do not think that this article does you any credit. Your first instinct was to cry fraud, and now you have flopped into a position where you believe that the regime had a “real election win”, according to your own idiosyncratic definition. You predicate your view on the fact that you have not YET seen any convincing evidence to the contrary. I would remind you of a tautology, which most analysts learn early, that the absence of evidence is not the same thing as the evidence of absence.

    There was the absence of evidence of fraud in the 2004 revocatorio. Indeed, the Carter Centre argued that there was PROOF of the absence of fraud by virtue of the fact that (a) they had verified that the new electronic system was foolproof, and (b) they could confirm this by the hot audit which showed a perfect match between ballot papers and electronic tally.

    We now know that the 2004 vote was “fraud on steroids”, and that the Carter Centre “experts” were rolled on the hot audits by the use of government-selected samples rather than genuine random samples. The 2004 vote is used today by theorists as a benchmark test of new algorithms for the detection of fraud in election results.

    Perrichi and Torres 2011 http://arxiv.org/pdf/1205.3290.pdf
    Cordero and Marquez 2006 http://evoto.iiec.unam.mx/sites/evoto.iiec.unam.mx/files/j.1751-5823.2006.tb00301.x.pdf
    Haussman and Rigobon 2011 http://arxiv.org/pdf/1205.3921.pdf
    Prado and Sanso 2011 http://arxiv.org/pdf/1205.3320.pdf
    Delfino and Salas 2011 http://arxiv.org/pdf/1205.5108.pdf

    Despite all this, it was not till 2007 that the Carter Centre quietly dropped their resistance to the overwhelming statistical evidence of massive fraud. It was not till much later still that we discovered, with testimony from some of the people directly involved , how the fraud was perpetrated.

    In the 2013 presidential election, despite the now-standard abuses by oficialismo, there was also an absence of direct evidence of fraudulent vote addition. Yet any forensic analysis of the results confirms that the likelihood of those results without fraudulent vote addition is infinitesimally small. This result is definitive, but even now I don’t know with any certainty HOW the votes were added.

    So now we come back to the recent elections. I have not seen any evidence of vote-stuffing. I have not seen any evidence against vote-stuffing. I have not seen any evidence at all. I suspect that you are in the same position. What we have here is an absence of evidence, not the evidence of absence.

    I am still waiting for the CNE or the MUD to put the recorded results into the public domain to run my own analysis. I have however seen numerous credible reports of actions by the government to dilute the opposition vote – late, badly communicated moves of polling stations, inclusion of non-participants in the voting lists, selectively broken voting machines, direct intimidation and physical obstruction. And numerous reports of actions to boost the government vote – direct intimidation esp of public employees and CLAP recipients, food-for-votes and “mobilisation” of late voters by colectivos. Let’s add:- abuse of government funds, media control and the elimination of candidates by corrupt process and corrupt courts.

    In most western democracies, any of the above criminal abuses would on their own be sufficient to cause a massive scandal and a challenge to the legitimacy of the vote. You seem to have become so desensitised to government abuse that you think that these things hardly count – or at least your article frames these things as a sort of “business as usual” to be lightly dismissed. With this characterisation, the government has just had “a real election win”, in an election that was “competitive” . Your only justification for this remarkable assertion is the absence of evidence of vote-rigging – which may yet appear.
    I would ask you to consider very carefully what message you think you have left with Venezuela-friendly foreigners.

  24. Quico,
    I have made several attempts to post a comment dealing with (a) the difference between the absence of evidence and the evidence of absence and (b) the impact of your article on an international readership.

    My first post was long and involved multiple external references to academic papers. It never appeared after submission.
    I ditched the external references and split the comment into two separate posts.
    I submitted the first point and it duly appeared in the comments – for a while.
    When I submitted the second point, BOTH comments vanished.

    Am I being moderated out on this subject? If there was something dangerous in the posts that I cannot see and about which you wish to avoid public discussion , then please drop me an e-mail so that I can avoid the problem in the future.

    • Kribaez, thank you for your extremely valuable contributions, especially on Venezuelan voting fraud. FT certainly has done a disservice to his country by giving some “legitimacy” in his WaPo article to the recent Gubernatorial election (he has also staunchly maintained the “no-fraud” stance in many past elections, such as the horrendous/decisive beginning-of-the-end-for-Venezuela 2004 RR). I believe his stance is sincere, mainly resulting from what for many intellectuals is a difficulty to see/understand the pragmatic/on-the-ground down-and-dirty machinations of an evil/criminal Regime, particularly from their far-away lofty Ivory Tower perches. Luckily, for future practical action on the Venezuelan mess, the key decision makers (excepting maybe State) know the real score and will not be swayed by such disingenuous speculation….

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