The Wall Street Journal folks just went south of the Bolívar State to find out how PSUV manipulated the recent governor elections. Their results?

“Most of El Casabe’s 800 registered voters work at remote illegal gold mines, leaving only a fraction of potential voters scattered across a few dozen riverside wooden huts on election day last month, dozens of residents said in interviews. That made Gen. Noguera’s 667 votes on a record 85% turnout unlikely.”

El Casabe is one of those rural places where the vote is done manually, for lack of internet access and electricity. The paper ballots are taken out of town by canoe, and then by car, to the state capital, where the totalization is made. According to the people involved in the investigation, when the ballots arrived, they had an extra 471 votes for the chavista candidate.

We presented the tampered ballots, we even showed infographics detailing more than 2,500 votes added to Justo Noguera. What’s new here is the whole narrative on how the copper was beaten. This is gold for the opposition, and can have serious international repercussions for the government.

On the day of totalization, the CNE offices were militarized, and the opposition supervisors weren’t allowed in:

“The soldiers told me ‘This is a private PSUV event,’ when I tried to go in,” said Mr. Lainette, referring to the Socialist Party by its acronym.”

Even PUSV’s election supervisor of El Casabe complained:

“‘This is illegal,’ said Luciano Mendoza, the election supervisor, who showed The Wall Street Journal the voting-machine receipts that counted just a third as many votes from the hamlet as reported by electoral authorities later. ‘They say they bring justice, but instead they commit fraud.’”

Stealing the elections this way, for the government, is a costly last-resource measure, a recklessness that made even their supporters upset, but the arco minero, the basic industries and the border are way too valuable for the mafias to let an outsider into it.

And the plot thickens because, as MUD implodes, Andrés Velásquez won’t stay down

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