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Chavez's 'Victory': A blow to freedom in this hemisphere

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez claimed victory early yesterday in his battle to defeat Sunday's recall referendum. The opposition is crying foul, citing a litany of referendum irregularities. They may be right, but Mr. Chavez made it clear some time ago that he is not leaving office. His democratic opponents have few avenues for recourse.
Sunday's vote is a metaphor for the sorry state of Venezuela's "democracy." Mr. Chavez controls the military, the Supreme Court, the Congress, the National Electoral Council (CNE), the state-owned oil monopoly and the intelligence services. There is no balance of power, no transparency, and Venezuela is fast becoming an authoritarian state.

Equally worrying is that when the oil-rich Mr. Chavez claimed victory, he claimed it for all of the Americas, reinforcing his commitment to spread revolution on the continent. With Fidel Castro as his closest ally, Mr. Chavez is a dangerous presence in the region.

Mr. Chavez's claims of a "landslide" victory are not supported by independent evidence of how the voting was going. All day long Sunday, exit polls were reporting a 16 to 20 point margin in favor of removing the president. As the Journal's Jose de Cordoba and David Lunhow reported from Caracas yesterday, the opinion polling firm of Penn, Shoen and Berland Associates had the vote to remove Mr. Chavez at 59% in early exit polls. A number of other exit polls throughout the day showed similar results.

Just before 4 a.m. Monday, Mr. Chavez's hand-picked CNE director announced that Mr. Chavez had won with exactly the opposite result of that indicated by the exit polls. As Dow Jones writer Charles Roth reported, the opposition said the "CNE didn't allow an audit of the paper receipts issued by the touchscreen machines, or allow opposition representatives to be present during its tallying of the vote."

Venezuelan expats in the U.S. say they were turned away even though they had confirmed their registrations in advance. Some Venezuelans inside the country report that they had their polling stations reassigned hours away from their homes. The government expanded voter rolls by more than one and a half million people mainly in areas where Mr. Chavez is supported. The finger-print scanners that were supposed to ensure one-man, one-vote, malfunctioned, creating long lines.

Turnout appeared high but official tallies didn't reflect that fact. Perhaps most suspicious is that the government is claiming that fewer people voted to remove Mr. Chavez in this secret balloting than signed the referendum petition last fall. That one is hard to swallow since signing the petition exposed individuals to government sponsored harassment and job insecurity.

Mr. Chavez has already made it clear that it is his way or the highway for Venezuelans. He said yesterday that "It is absolutely impossible that the victory of the 'no' be reversed."

In recent years Mr. Chavez has praised Middle Eastern terrorism as heroic and lobbed rhetorical grenades at George W. Bush. On his own continent he has given Colombian guerrillas sanctuary inside Venezuelan territory. His survival on Sunday cannot be good for the future of peace in the hemisphere.

homepage: homepage: http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB109270037529793065,00.html?mod=opinion%5Fmain%5Freview%5Fand%5Foutlooks

hogwash 17.Aug.2004 00:23

gk

Do not rely on these so-called "exit polls." They have no authenticity, whatsoever. Hooray for Chavez!

What Else Would I Expect 17.Aug.2004 00:42

from the

neo-con, facist Wall Street Journal. Notice how the neo-cons accuse Chavez of exactly what they, themselves, have done in some many other countries, including the USA.

. 17.Aug.2004 00:46

.

You could not write a more abysmal lying piece of crap than this. The WSJ shows its colors here.

A Blow To Freedom of Capitalista Rapists 17.Aug.2004 00:59

oh yeah

and 'free access' by fascist petroleum barons to the world's fifth-largest oil exports -

nothing more

It's worth mentioning that.. 17.Aug.2004 01:08

RJG

...the WSJ supported the coup against Chavez two years ago, so that should tell anybody who really believes in democracy what to think of this latest anti-Chavez op-ed. And these Bush defenders have the nerve to attack touch screen voting machines when they don't like the election result. It's always wise to take anything from the WSJ with a grain of salt. The people on the WSJ editorial board are hard core reactionaries who would rather have a dictatorship in this country than a real democracy.

The PIGS of Wall Street help the bush pigs prepare invasion to Venezuela 17.Aug.2004 05:05

john

These filthy rich sick bastards are willing to do anything to fight the wave that will crush them and that is surely coming at them as we in the US prepare to slay the devils that bind us in mental slavery.

Viva Chavez! 17.Aug.2004 08:26

Lawrence J. Maushard

"In recent years Mr. Chavez has praised Middle Eastern terrorism as heroic and lobbed rhetorical grenades at George W. Bush."

Loving it!

"On his own continent he has given Colombian guerrillas sanctuary inside Venezuelan territory."

Right On!

"His survival on Sunday cannot be good for the future of peace in the hemisphere."

There never is peace when the poor have to rise up to throw off the oppression of the ruling rich elite. That's what's happening in Venezuela. The goal there is not peace, but social and economic justice. That takes a fight. A big fight.

The struggle continues.

Viva Chavez!

*What*?!? 17.Aug.2004 08:35

xyzzy

First, thanks to whomever reposted this here. It's good to keep an eye on what the ruling class is saying about this election, as fallacious as it may be.

Funny, *all* the polls I'm aware of (haven't seen the exit polls, these are the ones taken before the election) showed Chavez ahead by a *large* margin. And both Jimmy Carter and the OAS election observers (independent foreign observers -- something we don't have here in the USA and probably should) said the announced result of the election was accurate.

Chavez' first remarks remarks to the opposition after the results became public were: "Those who voted for the 'yes' should not feel defeated. I want us to send them our respect." hardly sounds like the words of a wannabe dictator to me.

And far from "controlling everything", the privately-owned media channels in Venezuela remain in the hands of the same ruling class that tried to install a dictatorship via a military coup several years ago. Let me repeat that: the same media companies that tried to foment an act of treason were allowed by the government to continue operating as before because Chavez thought that was preferable to risking censorship. Can you imagine what the FCC would do to a domestic radio or TV station advocating terrorist acts against the US government?

Chavez also lets the US-government-funded "National Alliance for Democracy" shovel money to the groups trying to unseat him. Foreign interference like that in domestic politics is flat-out illegal in the US, and it would touch off a major scandal.

Those two counts alone show how abnormally *tolerant* the of opposition the Chavez administration is.

As far as Chavez being allied with Castro, so what? Castro was willing to help Chavez by sending doctors to Venezuela to improve the health care of the poor there. Chavez was willing to reciprocate by selling cheap oil to Cuba.

Some call Chavez a revolutionary -- so what? Look at how extremely unjust Latin American societies are. I'd say a revolution is called for. If making a strategic alliance with an undemocratic country disqualifies Chavez's "Bolivarian Revolution", then the American Revolution (which enthusiastically entered into an alliance with one of the most repressive and unjust monarchies in Europe despite its anti-monarchical pretensions) wouldn't pass this test either. As, I suspect, would few other revolutions or popular movements.

Portland

One more thing, this is really precious 17.Aug.2004 08:43

xyzzy

One of the things in the WSJ's list (it's the first thing on the list, in fact) of what's objectionable in Venezuela is: "Mr. Chavez controls the military..."

Let me see now. Venezuela's constitution -- as does the US constitution -- makes the president commander-in-chief of the armed forces. Far from being a problem, this is a non-problem. The problem in Latin America has generally been the converse situation: a right-wing military that continually exercises control over the government.

So there you have it. The WSJ openly admits that it wants Venezuela to be a banana republic with an out-of-control military that runs the government and uses coups d'etat to enforce its will.

Portland

Before you get whipped into a frenzy 17.Aug.2004 09:31

laszlo

Keep in mind that this repost was from the WSJ editorial page, which is firmly rooted in the Stone Age. The report on the referendum by the Journal's reporters on the ground found that the referendum strengthened Chavez' position and made him the front-runner for the 2006 elections. They also reported the conclusions of international observers that the election was a fair one, despite the claims of the oppo.

What a hoot! 17.Aug.2004 09:34

PHH

"Venezuela is fast becoming an authoritarian state."

What about America? How can they critize Chavez and at the same time support Bush?

one corporate media source to another... 17.Aug.2004 15:28

x

so....i'm not sure if anyone else saw the stupid oregonian's article on the election, but that article (which i believe was an ap wire article) stated that exit polls are ILLEGAL in Venezuela, and therefore none were conducted, and therefore the results of the election could not be estimated at the time the article was written.

anyone know the accuracy of this? because if this is accurate, then the wsj article is blatantly making things up.

reality check for the 6 figure earning editors of the WSJ... 17.Aug.2004 16:04

this thing here

>They may be right, but Mr. Chavez made it clear some time ago that he is not leaving office. His democratic opponents have few avenues for recourse.<

what occurred was NOT, repeat NOT, a presidential election.

it was a recall referendum.

i am not familiar with the venezeulan government election cycle, but in the coming years, there will be, yes, that's right, A PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION, THE RESULTS OF WHICH WILL DETERMINE WHETHER CHAVEZ STAYS OR GOES. holy shit, imagine, democracy and elections, rather than recall referendums. what a crazy idea to the WSJ...

"few avenues of recourse"... what bullshit.

Khatami congratulates Chavez on recall win 17.Aug.2004 16:56

dfjhvg89ef

Khatami congratulates Chavez on recall win


TEHRAN (Agencies) -- President Mohammad Khatami in a message to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Tuesday congratulated him on his victory in Sunday's recall referendum which had an unprecedented wide public turnout.

According to a report released by the Presidential Office Khatami pointed to his earlier remark that the efforts of government leaders in responding to the nations' high objectives are always welcomed.

The world is now witnessing an example of such a victory which is a victory for the Constitution and the Venezuelan people, the office quoted the president as saying.

Khatami hoped for further expansion of relations between the two nations through the efforts of the two governments. .Iran calls Venezuela vote a victory for democracy

"The Islamic Republic of Iran welcomes the massive turnout of Venezuelans for the presidential referendum, since it was a big test for this country and the Latin America in establishing democracy and the government of the people," Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi also said in a press release carried by IRNA. "The outcome of this referendum once again proved the reality that people do not accept foreign powers interfering in their internal affairs."

More than 58 percent of Venezuelans voted Sunday for Chavez to remain in office in the referendum called by the opposition in a bid to oust him, according to official returns.

Both Iran and Venezuela are members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), and usually take similar policies in regards to the oil prices.


the wall street journal editoral page 18.Aug.2004 00:03

brian

is a well known bastion of chavez hatred.

problem with the 'balance of power' 18.Aug.2004 00:11

brian

like in the UN Security Council, the opposition could vetro any programs Chavez tries to en force. This would serbe to lower Chavez's popularity, ensuring his Bolivarian revolution fails.

There are times when 'balance of power' is NOT a good idea