Posted tagged ‘Venezuelan constitution’

The [Venezuelan] constituent assembly electoral fraud

July 23, 2017

The constituent assembly electoral fraud, Venezuela News and ViewsDaniel Duquenal, July 22, 2017

The opposition has no choice. Not only it cannot validate such an election by participating in it, but it is obliged by principles, ethics, human rights and simple decency to oppose it in any way it can. Even if this implies violence at the end of the road.


After finishing a series of posts to explain how we have reached the current situation I thought that it may be good to have targeted entries as we get ready for July 30.  Let’s start with the constitutional assembly to be elected on July 30th, if the regime has its way.

Regardless of the legality and scope of that assembly the very electoral system to be used makes it totally unacceptable and forces the opposition to a confrontation. Here is an incomplete laundry list of all that is wrong with the constitutional assembly voting system:

A: the electoral body

*Not all votes are equal. If you vote in Baruta district (235.000 electors) you need at least thirteen of you to compensate for a single vote from, say, Buroz district (17.000 electors).   That is right, one vote of a Buroz denizen is equal to 13 votes of a Baruta denizen and they are both in the SAME state. No need even for an inter state comparison. Why? Because the election to the assembly is one representative per district, regardless of population.

*Not even all districts are equal! All capital districts have for some unexplained reason the right to elect two representatives. Considering that capital districts voted overwhelmingly for the opposition in 2001 it is one way to limit the possible voting impact. In effect to win the two seats you need to double the votes of the other party. So the opposition, if it participated in the vote, would see that advantage neutralized in part.  But that is not all, the capital city is not necessarily the biggest district of the state.  For example in Trujillo the capital has 43.000 electors for two seats and the main city Valera 104.000 electors for a single seat.

*Some people get to vote twice.  The election includes the election of people by specified constituencies based on their social composition. For example registered students get to vote for their additional representatives. Or retirees for theirs.  Which means that if you are not assigned to one of these lists then you get to vote only once and everybody else twice. Amen of the inequalities within these social groups that are impossible to measure exactly considering the paucity of information in the electoral board, CNE, web page.

*The regime is the one who decides who goes where in the sectoral vote. The regime requested lists from organizations to build up the sectorial lists of electors; but as a matter of fact the only organizations that the regime recognized are those already controlled by the regime. As such many students do not get to vote, many trade union activists do not get to vote, many electors from consejos comunales do not get to vote. In the case of the consejos the regime never recognized many of them because their elected council did not yield a result that pleased the regime.

It has been calculated that even if the opposition decided to participate in the election the regime would get a majority of seats with as little as 30% of the vote. Between the sectoral lists and the districts that are tightly controlled by the regime through dependency of el pueblo for basic food, 60% of the vote would not be enough for the opposition to get a majority.

But the problem to begin with is that even if the opposition would have wanted to participate it couldn’t have done so with fainess.

B: the electoral fraud

*What already existed for material fraud is still valid.  By this I refer to the material advantage of the regime. The CNE has allowed in all elections the regime to use freely the resources of the state for the electoral campaigns of the regime’s candidates.  To man the meetings state vehicles are freely used, state/taxpayer is freely used, goodies are distributed, etc…

*What already existed for media fraud is still valid, and then some more. In past campaigns the opposition had an extremely limited access to state media and a limited access to the remaining private media. In addition the regime abused of its cadena privilege which means that it did hours and hours of simultaneous broadcast on all TV and radio stations in favor of the regime. This time around there are more cadenas and less newspapers than before.  In short, outside of social media the opposition cannot raise its voice much, if at all.  More damningly the regime can freely insult and lie about the opposition and this one cannot reply, cannot debate.  If you are not on internet, or on cable TV with foreign channels, in most of the country you hear only the regime voice.

*Electoral system proofing has not been done. Normally there are a series of steps the CNE takes to prove that the election is fair. These include surveys of electoral machines, public testings, auditing of electoral rolls, etc. None of these has been done even if the CNE claims it did. No witness for these.  No published days when these tests were done.

*The secret of the vote is compromised.  The regime has been going full drive into promoting the “carnet de la patria” as the valid document to control the chavista masses (or exchavista but still in need of social programs). Thus the perception exists that those with the carnet de la patria will have their vote monitored, or at the very least would be found out if they decided to abstain.

*Electoral blackmail is the norm. More than ever el pueblo is threatened with reprisals if the regime does not win the election. And the reprisals will go against those who do not show upo to vote. The blackmail and scare tactics are full throttle and the opposition cannot combat them.

*Multiple vote by regime adherents is a given. The regime has decided to do without the inking of the fingers of those who vote, one of the lone ways to ensure that nobody can vote twice.  But that is not all, Now, under the excuse of violence the regime has decided to create special voting centers outside of “violence zone”. That is, if you support the regime and do not feel free to vote for it at you normal voting stations you can go to one of those special centers. The thing here is that these centres are set on the run and the controls are not explained. This reeks of major ballot stuffing.

*No electoral control.  Since the opposition will not participate then there will be no witnesses inside the polling stations. Note that to send witnesses you need to run in the election. It is difficult for people to just enter to observe the voting day and the counting. And if they were allowed to enter their opinions and input would be nil and they could be chased out.

*Not even visual control. The regime has decided that the “protection” area for the voting center will go from 100 yards to 500. In other words the press will not be able to film close enough to figure out whether there will be people voting and in what numbers. Thus it will be easier to pad results as participating estimations will be very difficult to do.

*There is no set voting hours. The regime has played loose and fast with voting schedules even if the voting stations are empty. The reason is that because of the fingerprinting identification the regime can now in real time who came to vote. The establishment of the carnet de la patria was also a way to renew the registration of all the people who depend from some form of social benefit, even if these benefits are not reaching them anymore.  As such the regime knows the adresses of those who have not showed up to vote by noon and thus has plenty of time to seek them and force them to come and vote. If voting hours need to extended so be it.  Needless to say that those dragged from home to vote will be easily scared into voting for the regime.


It is clear, perfectly clear that the voting system is absolutely unfair, totally biased to favor the regime. Even with its best effort the opposition cannot win this election. It could still win a referendum or a normal election since at least it would have witnesses in the voting centers and the representation would be proportionate to the actual population. But this time around all has been designed for the regime to win the election even if it is trashed at the level of the popular vote.

The opposition has no choice. Not only it cannot validate such an election by participating in it, but it is obliged by principles, ethics, human rights and simple decency to oppose it in any way it can. Even if this implies violence at the end of the road.

From official terror to article 350 – 5) taking off Ortega before 350

July 5, 2017

From official terror to article 350 – 5) taking off Ortega before 350, Venezuela News and Views, Daniel duquenal, July 4, 2017

Writing this series of articles with long delays in between actually helped me a lot, proving that procrastination pays: the events of today establish beyond doubt that civil rebellion is the lone thing left for the Venezuelan population at large. I say “at large” in all confidence as there are no serious pollsters, even among those who predicted Chavez victories years ago, that give the regime and Maduro much more that 20%.  And this assuming that they can correct for the fear factor in their polling. The evidence is clear: even in a bad day the opposition drags quickly to the streets, in almost any Venezuelan city, more people to protest than the regime as a whole can do just in Caracas for support, after days of preparation.

We are not discussing anymore the regime “rights” to remain in office: that ship sailed long ago even though it is still trying to find the shipping lane between Saint Vincent and Mustique. But that is another story; today not even Salvador and Ecuador are unconditional allies

Before we get into the application of article 350, let me summarize briefly what has happened in the recent days. The whole show has been around the regime trying to eliminate Luisa Ortega, the nation’s general prosecutor, the head of the lone organization allowed to investigate any civilian criminal conduct. Clearly, that she has separated from the regime is unacceptable because, well, the regime has too much to hide, and will have much more to hide as criminal repression progresses.

So, when she became unreliable in April the regime decided, violating once again the 1999 constitution, to send protesting civilians to military courts because they supposedly committed treason. Never mind that even treason has to be tried in civilian courts when civilians commit this, the whole point was to sow terror in protesters, and browbeat Ortega, taking away from her competencies. Let’s note that no matter her role as regime enforcer in the past she would still make a more just prosecutor than any military court in Venezuela….  But let’s not digress.

Since then the escalation was on, from both sides.

Ortega from mild discreet criticism went to address the opposition controlled National Assembly on Monday July 3. Her prudence was good as the opposition could not digest too fast the woman that had offered the rigged evidence for the rigged trial of Leopoldo Lopez. But the opposition, at least the thinking one, realizes that today we cannot be picky about our allies, be it Trump taking a selfie with Leopoldo’s wife, be it Ortega jailing Lilian’s husband. We are all growing up.

The regime cannot make a solid case against Luisa Ortega. After all, trying to make a rational case against her in seeking her removal from office would be akin to a political hara-kiri from nearly two decades of injustice in Venezuela. So in true form the regime decided that she was a liar and possibly mad. For that the regime got its worst piece of garbage, representative Carroña Carreño to present a petition of destitution against Ortega which details are irrelevant for you to know since the result is already known: within hours she will be removed from office even though the constitution does not allow it the way the regime is operating against her.  But who’s counting?

So today we had Ortega refusing to go to her accusation hearing on the grounds that she did not recognize the court as illegitimate and out of constitution, Carroña Carreño outperforming himself and the two sad sacks of the “citizen power” demanding to pass a lie detector. A useless performance since both of them have been liars for so long that I bet their body has ceased to recognize whether they are lying.

I will leave at that. The point is made, the regime will do anything, ANYTHING to retain power.  You have on one side the AC shows in courts like today but you have on the other side the paramilitary colectivos of the regime which have been unleashed finally over the population, even using official transport….

The heat was on today.  There was a programmed “trancazo” from noon to 6 PM.  Since I live in El Cafetal, a nexus of resistance, they did not need me to block the local avenues, nor could I go elsewhere to help. So I made it home back before noon. As I went for a short nap I was frightened by the amount of gun shots coming from the Caracas valley. I heard dozens and dozens, perhaps hundreds, of shots as pellets or tear gas grenades were shot a protesters blocking highways….  I gathered they came mostly from Petare, La Urbina, El Marques and La California.  Repression is not anymore just in Altamira…

What are Venezuela’s huge protests really about?

June 13, 2017

What are Venezuela’s huge protests really about? American Thinker, Javier Caceres, June 13, 2017

CARACAS — With 65 dead in the last 60 days of marching in the streets, it’s worth looking at what these protests are really about: a constitutional crisis that strikes at the heart of rule of law in Venezuela. This is more important than the food shortages, the dissident harassment, the crime and corruption or any of the other factors that also fuel the protests. Basically, freedom itself is at stake.

Venezuela’s constitution, which is the basis of its rule of law, is under fire as never before.

To take one example, Venezuela’s attorney general declared a Constitutional Court sentence unconstitutional, and thus ruptured the country’s long constitutional tradition. After that usurpation of power, the constitution was effectively rewritten on President Nicolas Maduro’s intervention, putting an end to the separation of powers that has always been integral to rule of law in Venezuela.

For that alone, Venezuelans are protesting, and Maduro finds himself rejected by 80% of Venezuelans according to polls.

But the constitutional crisis has more than one dimension. Despite the judicial meddling described above, Maduro also proposed drafting an entirely new constitution even though a simple reading of three of the articles of the present one do not let him do it unauthorized. But, Venezuela’s Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court confirmed he can do it on the grounds that “he is the people.”

It shows that Venezuela’s constitutional crisis has come a long way from its orgins as an apparently normal document. How did it come to this?

It happened when the late President Hugo Chávez in 1999 first asked Venezuelans if they wanted a new constitution and held a referendum about it. In that vote, the people said ‘yes’ and after it was drafted there was an Approval Referendum. Because the people said ‘yes’ again, that is how the current constitution came to be.  Then in 2007, when Chávez submitted changes to the 1999 Constitution, in another approval referendum, the people said ‘no’ to his proposal. Whatever its merits, it worked tolerably well institutionally.

There are three constitutional articles at stake in this current crisis:  Article 5 that says the power belongs to the people by their votes and it’s not transferable.   Article 348 says the president has the initiative to ask people if they want a new constitution accompanied by basic considerations such as how many people are going to be elected to the Constitutional Assembly, or the time they are going to be deliberating among other matters.  Then a third article, number 347, says the people are the ones who decide if they want a new constitution. Only after people say ‘yes’ to a Consultation Referendum, can the process continue.

The president changed all of these norms when he said he did not need to ask people if they wanted a new constitution. After the Electoral Board’s silence, the seven Magistrates of the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court, the judges who interpret the constitution, sided with the president, ruling that the president represents the people so there is no need to ask.  After this decision, the attorney general asked the magistrates to clarify and explain how they interpret the constitution so as to transfer the power of the people’s voting rights to decide to draft a new constitution to the president. There is little chance the magistrates are going to respond because they are not obligated.

The two constitutional breaches described are so ridiculous that even fifth-grade elementary textbooks, which currently say that to have a new constitution there must be two referenda, one to ask the people if they want a new one and another to get their approval with the draft, will need to be rewritten.

Maduro’s route was to go directly to the Electoral Board, which is in theory an independent branch although it has significant ties to the government, asking them to go ahead with his proposal.  The board said ‘yes, Mr. President let’s do it,’ failing to use their criteria and powers to block the president’s wish because he wasn’t asking the people first, just as any fifth grader would have been taught.

Making things worse, Maduro said that after he got the changes he wanted, there would be a Consultation Referendum instead of an Approval Referendum, the difference being that the first is not binding in case people say ‘no.’

People are not dumb. They know Maduro is backed by a bought-and-paid-for military directed by Cubans and another army of seven magistrates of whom nobody knows how they got their law diplomas, their masters’ degrees, and their doctorates.

This is why at least 50% of the 80% of the people that are against Maduro have gone out at least one day during the last two months to protest in the streets and many have gone out much more. What’s at stake now is the last chance to keep Venezuelans’ freedom and not be another Cuba or communist-style country. Venezuela’s protestors don’t want a country whose contitutions can be manipulated and changed at will, and where the only solid reality is that the country’s rulers are chosen by Cubanized party elite inside the government. That is a privilege that belongs to the people alone, and by their marching, the Venezuelans are showing that they know it.

Javier Caceres is the editor of, a leading opposition Internet site located in Caracas, Venezuela.