Venezuelan recall referendum, 2004


Venezuelan recall referendum, 2004

The Venezuelan recall referendum of 15 August 2004 was a referendum to determine whether Hugo Chávez, the current President of Venezuela, should be recalled from office. The result of the referendum was to not recall Chávez.

The recall referendum was announced on 8 June 2004 by the National Electoral Council (CNE) after Venezuelan opposition succeeded in collecting the number of signatures required by the 1999 Constitution to effect a recall.

The petition

The recall mechanism was introduced into Venezuelan law in 1999 under the new Constitution drafted by the National Constituent Assembly and sanctioned by the electorate in a referendum. Under its provisions, an elected official can be subjected to a recall referendum if a petition gathers signatures from 20% of the corresponding electorate. Thus, to order a presidential recall vote in 2004ndash for which the constituency was the national electorate as a wholendash some 2.4 million signatures were needed.

Constitutional bases

The recall referendum is provided for in two articles of the 1999 Constitution:

:Article 72: All [...] offices filled by popular vote are subject to revocation.:Once one-half of the term of office to which an official has been elected has elapsed, a number of voters representing at least 20% of the registered voters in the affected constituency may petition for the calling of a referendum to revoke that official's mandate.:When a number of voters equal to or greater than the number of those who elected the official vote in favour of the recall, provided that a number of voters equal to or greater than 25% of the total number of registered voters vote in the recall referendum, the official's mandate shall be deemed revoked and immediate action shall be taken to fill the permanent vacancy as provided for by this Constitution and by law.

:Article 233: The President of the Republic shall become permanently unavailable to serve by reason of any of the following events: death; resignation; [...] recall by popular vote.: [...] When the President of the Republic becomes permanently unavailable to serve during the first four years of his constitutional term of office, a new election by universal suffrage and direct ballot shall be held within 30 calendar days. Pending the election and inauguration of the new President, the Executive Vice President shall take charge of the Presidency of the Republic.:In the cases described above, the new President shall complete the current constitutional term of office. If the President becomes permanently unavailable to serve during the last two years of his constitutional term of office, the Executive Vice President shall take over the Presidency of the Republic until the term is completed.

The signature collection drive

In August 2003, about 3.2 million signatures were presented by "Súmate", a Venezuelan volunteer civil association, founded in 2002 by a group of Venezuelan citizens. These signatures were rejected by the National Electoral Council (CNE) on the grounds that they had been collected prematurely; i.e., before the mid-point of the presidential term.

In September 2003, "The Economist" reported that the government used a "rapid reaction" squad to raid the offices of CNE (the government body overseeing the petition drive), where the petitions were stored. In June 2004, the magazine also reported that the government punished Venezuelan citizens for signing the petition. ["Authenticated, but not quite agreed." "The Economist." 3 June 2004, [http://www.economist.com/world/la/displaystory.cfm?story_id=E1_NSPQVRS] , accessed 6 December 2006]

In November 2003, the opposition collected a new set of signatures, with 3.6 million names produced in four days. The CNE rejected the petition, saying that only 1.9 million were valid, while 1.1 million were dubious and 460,000 completely invalid.

It was claimed that some of those who signed the petition had done so under duress. The invalid signatures included people who had died many years earlier, infants, and foreigners. Of the signatures categorised as dubious, 876,017 all had the personal details written in the same handwriting except for the signature itself. Fact|date=February 2007

Reaction to the decision to reject the petition (for the second time) resulted in riots that led to nine dead, 339 arrested, and 1,200 injured.

The petitioners appealed to the Electoral Chamber of the Venezuelan Supreme Court. The court reinstated over 800,000 of the disputed signatures, bringing the total to 2.7 millionndash well above the 2.4 million needed to authorise the referendum. However, about a week later, the Constitutional chamber of the Supreme Court overturned the Electoral chamber's ruling alleging that the latter did not have jurisdiction for that ruling.

The list of signatories was subsequently collected by the governmentHarvard reference
Author = Hugo Chavez
Year = 2004
Title = Official transcript 'Aló Presidente' N°180, 1 February 2004
Journal = Venezuelan State Television
URL = http://www.gobiernoenlinea.ve/misc-view/sharedfiles/Alo_Presidente_180.pdf
Access-date = 9 June 2006
]

Again, the names of petition signers were posted publicly. The president of the Venezuelan Workers Confederation was quoted by the Associated Press as claiming that the Chávez government had begun dismissing petition signers from government ministries, the state oil company, the state water company, the Caracas Metro, and public hospitals and municipal governments controlled by Chávez's party. The Associated Press also quoted Venezuela's Health minister as justifying petition related layoffs by saying "all those who have signed to activate the recall referendum against President Chávez should be fired from the Health Ministry". He retracted these remarks several days later by saying that they were his own personal opinions and not a matter of public policy.

As a compromise, the CNE set aside five days in May 2004 to allow the owners of disputed signatures to confirm that they did, in fact, back the referendum call: this was known as the "reparo" process. At the end of that verification effort, the total number of signatures stood at 2,436,830, according to the CNE. Thus, the target had been reached and the referendum could take place. During that time, thousands of forged ID cards and equipment to create forged ID cards were confiscated by the police. Supporters of Chávez believed that the opposition used these to forge signatures. The opposition claimed that the equipment and the ID cards were planted. [ [http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/news.php?newsno=1284 Venezuela’s Signature Re-certification Ends Without Major Incident but with Many Minor Ones | venezuelanalysis.com ] ]

The CNE later admitted that 15,863 signatures of those signatures that were verified in May 2004 belonged to people who had died in 2003.

Timing

The date chosen for the recall referendum was significant: had the recall vote been held on 19 August or later, Chávez would have been into the fifth year of his six-year term and had he been voted out, Vice President José Vicente Rangel would have taken over and served out the rest of Chávez's presidency (in accordance with Article 233 of the Constitution, above). With the vote called for 15 August, Chávez was not yet into the last two years of his term in office; an unfavourable result would therefore have meant the calling of fresh presidential elections within the following 30 days. Chávez had expressed his clear intention to stand in the election, had he been recalled; the anti-Chávez factions, however, maintained that he would have been disqualified from doing so.

The ballot

The following question was put to the Venezuelan electorate::"¿Está usted de acuerdo con dejar sin efecto el mandato popular otorgado mediante elecciones democráticas legítimas al ciudadano Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías como presidente de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela para el actual período presidencial? ¿NO o SÍ?"Translated into English::"Do you agree to revoke, for the current term, the popular mandate as President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela conferred on citizen Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías through democratic and legitimate elections? NO or YES?"

Thus (perhaps somewhat counterintuitively) a "yes" vote was a "no to Chávez" votendash ie a "yes to the recall" vote.

For the recall to be successful, there were three conditions:
* A turnout of at least 25% of the country's 14.25 million registered voters.
* More anti-Chávez votes than the number who voted for him in the 2000 presidential election (3.76 million).
* More "yes" votes cast than "no" votes.

The day of the referendum

Polling stations opened at 6 am Venezuelan time on August 15, 2004. Later in the day, faced with a 70% turnout, lengthy queues of waiting voters, and delays exacerbated by the use of novel electronic voting equipment and fingerprint scanners, the electoral authorities agreed to extend the close of voting twice: a four-hour extension of the deadline that took it to 8 pm, followed by an additional four hours announced later in the evening, which took it to midnight.

Former U.S. president Jimmy Carter, who was in Venezuela to observe the electoral process, said of the patiently waiting Venezuelan electors, "This is the largest turnout I have ever seen." In previous presidential elections, turnout figures were at an average 55%.Eduardo Galeano (2004). [http://newleftreview.org/?page=article&view=2524 Nothingland—or Venezuela?] . New Left Review 29.]

All Venezuelans aged 18 and up whose names appear on the electoral roll were eligible to vote, including those residing abroad: polling stations were set up in Venezuelan embassies and consulates abroad.

Results

The preliminary result was announced on August 16, 2004 on national television and radio after 94% of the vote had been counted. [ [http://rnv.gov.ve/noticias/?act=ST&f=2&t=7761 Radio Nacional de Venezuela -> Presidente Chávez gana con casi 5 millones de votos ] ]

*No: 4,991,483 = 58%
*Yes: 3,576,517 = 42%

According to these early-morning results, the first condition (a quorum of 25% of the electorate) had been satisfied. The second condition (more votes against Chávez than he received in 2000) would probably be satisfied. However, the third condition (a simple majority: more people voting "yes" than "no") had clearly failed.

Aftermath

Endorsement

The day before the polling, former U.S. President and Nobel Peace Prize winner Jimmy Carter of the Carter Center, who had deployed extensive networks of electoral monitors to oversee the referendum, expressed confidence that the vote would proceed in a calm and orderly fashion. Carter commented that, "I might project results that will be much more satisfactory than they were in 2000 in Florida". [http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/afp/20040814/en_afp/venezuela_referendum_040814224915]

On the afternoon of August 16, 2004, Carter and OAS Secretary General César Gaviria gave a joint press conference in which they endorsed the preliminary results announced by the CNE. The monitors' findings "coincided with the partial returns announced today by the National Elections Council" said Carter, while Gaviria added that the OAS electoral observation mission's members had "found no element of fraud in the process". Directing his remarks at opposition figures who made claims of "widespread fraud" in the voting, Carter called on all Venezuelans to "accept the results and work together for the future". [http://edition.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/americas/08/16/venezuela.recall.ap/index.html]

Fraud claims

At 15h50 local time on August 15, CNE rector Jorge Rodríguez and CNE president Francisco Carrasquero announced on national television that they had found an audio CD where a faked voice of Carrasquero declared that the anti-Chávez opposition has won the referendum with a total of 11,436,086 "yes" votes, and that Chávez's mandate was thereby revoked. Since this was several hours before the closing of the polling booths, and since Carrasquero declared the recording to be fake, this appeared to be a case of attempted sabotage of the referendum. The attorney-general was called on to conduct a full inquiry into the incident and to locate and arrest those responsible for the spurious audio recording. [http://newswire.indymedia.org/en/newswire/2004/08/808090.shtml]

Journalist Fausto Malavé told the Venezuelan opposition press that the recording was an evident parody that had been circulating in city streets for at least two months, claiming that it was surprising that it was only brought to public attention then. He also expressed concern at the significance that was attributed to it by the CNE. [ [http://www.eluniversal.com/2004/08/15/revo_ava_15A483829.shtml Referéndum Revocatorio - eluniversal.com ] ]

Separately, a number of both opponents and supporters of Chávez demonstrated outside several electoral locations both inside and outside the country, claiming that they were being prevented from voting because they did not appear in the official registration lists. Specifically, 300 Venezuelans in Colombia, as reported by the Venezuelan opposition press, apparently could not vote for that reason, which some have attributed to slowness or negligence of the CNE in going over the necessary paperwork. The Venezuelan ambassador in Colombia stated that his office had filed the proper documents on time and thus the CNE would be responsible for any potential problems. [ [http://www.eluniversal.com/2004/08/15/revo_ava_15A483849.shtml Referéndum Revocatorio - eluniversal.com ] ]

After the first preliminary result was broadcast, the opposition Coordinadora Democrática implied that a fraud may be taking place, stating that its own data put the "Yes" vote at 59% and the "No" vote at 40%. The entity told the press that no opposition representation was present when the votes were counted and that the physical ballots had not yet been taken into account. [http://www.eluniversal.com/2004/08/16/revo_ava_16A483983.shtml Referéndum Revocatorio - eluniversal.com ] ]

Exit polls conducted by the American firm of Penn, Schoen & Berland showed Chávez losing by a 60-40 margin, but the official results put Chávez winning the referendum by 58 to 41 percent. The Organization of American States and the Carter Center certified the referendum, but fraud allegations were raised.

The recall vote was held on August 15, 2004. A record number of voters turned out to defeat the recall attempt with a 59% "no" vote. ["BBC News". ("BBC", 21 September 2004). [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/3587184.stm "Venezuelan Audit Confirms Victory"] . Retrieved 5 November 2005.] European Union observers did not oversee the elections, saying too many restrictions were put on their participation by the Chávez administration. [de Cordoba, Jose and Luhnow, David. "Venezuelans Rush to Vote on Chavez: Polarized Nation Decides Whether to Recall PResident After Years of Political Rifts". "Wall Street Journal". (Eastern edition). New York, NY: August 16, 2004. pg. A11.] The Carter Center "concluded the results were accurate." [ Carter Center (2005). [http://www.cartercenter.org/documents/2020.pdf Observing the Venezuela Presidential Recall Referendum: Comprehensive Report.] Accessed 25 January 2006.] However, a Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates (PSB) exit poll showed the opposite result, predicting that Chávez would lose by 20%, whereas the election results showed him to have won by 20%. Schoen commented, "I think it was a massive fraud".Barone, M. [http://www.usnews.com/usnews/opinion/baroneweb/mb_040820.htm "Exit polls in Venezuela".] "U.S. News & World Report." August 20, 2004.] The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) released a paper showing that the results of Penn, Shoen, Berland & Associates' exit poll were not plausible, and that pre-election reporting on the referendum was flawed. [ [http://www.cepr.net/documents/publications/venezuela_2004_08.pdf Polling and the Ballot: The Venezuelan Referendum "CEPR: Center for Economic and Policy Research". Accessed 30 June 2006. ] "US News and World Report" offered an analysis of the polls, claiming "very good reason to believe that the (Penn Schoen) exit poll had the result right, and that Chávez's election officials — and Carter and the American media — got it wrong". PSB used Súmate, an anti-Chavez NGO, personnel and its results contradicted five other opposition exit polls. Publication or broadcast of exit polls was banned by electoral authorities, but results of the PSB poll went out to media outlets and opposition offices several hours before polls closed. [ [http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2004/08/296520.html U.S. Poll Firm in Hot Water in Venezuela.] "Associated Press", Accessed 9 June 2006.] Despite its statistical impossibility, the Schoen exit poll and the government's programming of election machines were the basis of claims of election fraud.

The Center for Security Policy, an organization whose advisory board includes a number of former U.S. military officers and well-known neo-conservatives, attacked the Carter Center's findings - and its overall work in observing the referendum. Carter's "continued international work certifying election results has provided essential political cover to anti-democratic forces in the region. Indeed, it might be said that over the past four years, Jimmy Carter has been the most visible and arguably most influential U.S. leader in Latin America." The Center for Security Policy's report goes on to say that, "The (Hugo Chávez) regime delayedand obstructed the recall referendum process at every turn. Once the regime was forced to submit to such a referendum, moreover, it used a fraud-filled voting process to ensure victory. The government did everything—including granting citizenship to half a million illegal aliens in a crude vote-buying scheme and “migrating” existing voters away from their local election office—to fix the results in its favor. The outcome was then affirmed and legitimated by ex-President Jimmy Carter’s near-unconditional support." "Jimmy Carter ignored pleas from the opposition and publicly endorsed the results, despite the fact that the government reneged on its agreement to carry out an audit of the results. Carter’s actions not only gave the Venezuelan regime the legitimacy it craved, but also destroyed the public’s confidence in the voting process and in the effectiveness of international observers."Waller, J. Michael. [http://www.centerforsecuritypolicy.org/What_to_Do.pdf What To Do About Venezuela.] Center for Security Policy. May 2005.]

Economists Ricardo Hausmann of Harvard University and Roberto Rigobón of the MIT Sloan School of Management performed a statistical analysis at Súmate's request, analyzing how fraud could have occurred during the referendum. They concluded that the vote samples audited by the government were not a random representation of all precincts, noting that the Chávez-backed CNE had "refused to use the random number generating program offered by the Carter Center for the August 18th audit and instead used its own program installed in its own computer and initialed with their own seed." They also noted that opposition witnesses and international observers were not allowed near the computer hub on election day.Juan Francisco Alonso (September 6 , 2004). [http://www.eluniversal.com/2004/09/06/en_pol_art_06A489963.shtml Súmate: There is a 99% probability of fraud in referendum] . "El Universal". Accessed 6 August 2006. ] According to "The Wall Street Journal", a computer-science professor at Johns Hopkins University said, "The Hausmann/Rigobon study is more credible than many of the other allegations being thrown around." [Luhnow, David. Academics' Study Backs Fraud Claim in Chavez Election. "The Wall Street Journal" (7 September 2004) pg. A18.] CEPR, a think tank [Dorell, O. (4/12/2005). [http://www.usatoday.com/money/perfi/retirement/2005-04-12-benefits-calculators_x.htm Benefit estimates depend on who calculates them.] "USA Today". Accessed 30 June 2006.] based in Washington, released a report showing that Hausmann and Rigobón provide no evidence of fraud — a conclusion subsequently confirmed by an independent panel of statisticians selected by the Carter Center.Weisbrot M, Rosnick D, Tucker T (September 20, 2004). [http://www.cepr.net/publications/venezuela_2004_09.htm Black Swans, Conspiracy Theories, and the Quixotic Search for Fraud: A Look at Hausmann and Rigobón's Analysis of Venezuela's Referendum Vote] . "CEPR: Center for Economic and Policy Research". Accessed 30 June 2006. ]

"Foreign Policy Magazine" reports that the opposition was "shocked not so much by the results as by the ease with which international observers condoned the Electoral Council's flimsy audit of the results."Corrales, Javier. [http://www.keepmedia.com/pubs/ForeignPolicy/2006/01/01/1111144/print Hugo Boss.] "Foreign Policy" (January 1, 2006).] The sample for the audit was selected by the Chávez-controlled National Electoral Council, and was not of sufficient size to be statistically reliable. [ [http://web.sumate.org/documentos/PrelimRRP1-2%20main%20text2.pdf Preliminary Report: The Presidential Recall Referendum.] "Súmate" (September 7, 2004). Accessed 8 August 2006.] The U.S. Department of State accepted that the results of the audit were "consistent with the results announced by (Venezuela's) National Electoral Council." [Pravda. [http://english.pravda.ru/world/americas/25-08-2004/6685-chavez-0 Venezuelan opposition seeks revenge as audits confirm Chavez’s victory] Retrieved August 5, 2006] [U.S. Department of State [http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2004/35296.htm Daily Press Briefing for August 17ndash Transcript] Retrieved August 5, 2006] John Maisto, U.S. Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States, added that the results of the referendum "speak for themselves", saying that the quest for Venezuelan democracy "does not end with a single electoral process or referendum" and urging the "democratically elected government of Venezuela to address and recognize the legitimate concerns, rights, and aspirations of all of its citizens". [ [http://usinfo.state.gov/wh/Archive/2004/Sep/14-795264.html U.S. Urges Venezuela to Choose "Peaceful Path" to Democracy] Retrieved August 6, 2006] Regarding the recall effort, in testimony before the U.S. Senate, Maisto also pointed out that Carter had said that " 'expression of the citizen must be privileged over excessive technicalities' in resolving issues surrounding the tabulation of the signatures". [Maisto, John F. [http://www.senate.gov/~foreign/testimony/2004/MaistoTestimony040624.pdf STATEMENT BY AMBASSADOR JOHN F. MAISTO.] United States Senate, Committee on Foreign Relations, June 24, 2004.]

Partial audit of the results

While stressing they had found no indications of fraud, the OAS and Carter Center monitors announced on Wednesday, August 18, that they would conduct a review of the results at 150 randomly selected sites. This review, conducted by monitors in conjunction with the CNE, would compare the audit trail recorded by the electronic voting equipment with the individually printed ballot papers. Some sectors of the opposition, however, refused to participate in this process, arguing that the fraud lay deeper inside the machines. According to ranking opposition member Nelson Rampersad, many of the machines "simply stopped recording 'yes' votes once a ceiling had been reached". The allegation was that limits had been pre-programmed into the voting machines. This claim was never proven.

On Saturday, August 21, the international observers reported that their audit of the selected machines supported the official result: "The type of check used in this audit of the electronic system doesn't leave us much doubt regarding the result," said Gaviria.

Ten per cent of the votes were cast manually, as not all polling places could be automated. In places where voting was manual, Chávez won 70% to 30%, an even wider margin than when using the automated technology. However, manual polling was used exclusively in rural and low income neighborhoods, where Chávez enjoys his strongest support. [http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/news.php?newsno=1341]

Claims of foreign interference

"Súmate" (the civial association organizing the recall effort) received a USD $31,000 grant in September 2003 from the United States National Endowment for Democracy, an organisation funded by the United States government. The grant, earmarked for "election education", was used to promote voter education about the constitutional recall process. [http://caracas.usembassy.gov/wwwh2678.html] [http://www.csmonitor.com/2004/0811/p07s01-woam.html] The Chávez government is prosecuting four "Súmate" officials for high treason and conspiracy, for accepting funds from the U.S. Congress. [http://hrw.org/english/docs/2005/07/08/venezu11299.htm] [http://www.wmd.org/democracyalerts/july1504.html]

Chávez supporters see the "Súmate" NED grant as an example of the U.S. intent to overthrow him. Senior U.S. administration officials met with Venezuelan opposition leaders in the months and weeks before the attempted coup of April 11, 2002, although the administration has insisted that they did not support the overthrow of Chávez' government. [http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2002/04/20020416-5.html] [http://www.cnn.com/2002/ALLPOLITICS/04/16/US.Venezuela/] [http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,685531,00.html]

Claims of media bias

Chávez supporters have alleged international press bias, asserting:

#At least one Reuters article distributed by MSN illustrated an article about a demonstration by people "opposing" the president by showing a photograph of what really seemed to be a march by "supporters", not opponents, of Chávez. [http://www.indymediapr.org/news/2004/08/4018.php]
#The international press claimed that the opponents of Chávez included "most of the country's news organisations". [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A1407-2004Aug14.html]
#Early on Monday morning, August 16, the "Washington Times" published a UPI/CNN report presenting the preliminary results from the CNE, but not mentioning the fact that the result was announced by the CNE. Given that the CNE is a more neutral body than Chávez, this article suggested that the initial result was likely to be biased. The relevant phrases from the article [http://washingtontimes.com/upi-breaking/20040816-063521-6310r.htm] , were:
#*"Chávez claimed Monday he won a recall election,"
#*"initial vote counts show 58 percent voted to keep Chávez in power. "
#:A later version of the article "does" include an attribution of the result:
#*" According to the tally released by Venezuela's National Electoral Board, or CNE,"
#The article quotes an opposition leader who claims that massive fraud took place, but fails to state evidence which does not support the fraud claim: the numerous pre-referendum polls, both by opposition and by pro-Chávez groups, during the previous months and weeks predicted the "No" vote to win by a margin of between 5% and 31%; the 16% margin of the preliminary result is consistent with this, suggesting that no major fraud took place. For example, Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research Inc. and DATOS, both "commissioned by the opposition", found margins in favour of "No" by 5% and 12% respectively in June 2004 [http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/articles.php?artno=1228] ; Datanálisis found a margin of 14% in favour of Chávez in June [http://narcosphere.narconews.com/story/2004/8/1/185820/8839] ; while on August 11, Robert Jensen claimed that recent polls ranged from 8% to 31% for margins in favour of the "No" vote [http://www.zmag.org/sustainers/content/2004-08/11jensen.cfm] .

The Tascón List

In February 2004, on the TV program "Aló Presidente" 180, President Chávez announced that he had signed a document asking the National Electoral Council (CNE) to provide copies of all the signatures of the petitioners for the referendum. [http://www.eluniversal.com/2004/02/02/pol_art_02106B.shtml] Luis Tascón, a representative of the ruling party in the legislature and of the "Comando Maisanta", was in charge of collecting the copies of the signatures, to prove Chávez's suspicion of fraud. [http://www.mci.gob.ve/alo2.asp?id=90] [http://buscador.eluniversal.com/2004/01/31/pol_ava_31A430433.shtml]

Tascón subsequently published on his website a database, based on the list given by the CNE, or more than 2,400,000 Venezuelans and their national identity card numbers ("cédula"). Tascón defended his action, saying that publication of the list of Referendum signers provided a way for those who appeared on the list, but had not signed, to register a complaint with the CNE. Once the list was posted, on a "Venezolana de Televisión" broadcast, Chávez encouraged use of the website to verify illicit use of national identity cards. There was a public outcry over this violation of privacy and electoral laws, in particular by the organization "Súmate", and because of reports that people who worked for the government were fired, denied work, or denied issuance of official documents because of their appearance on the list. [http://caracas.usembassy.gov/wwwh2796.html] Several government officials (including Roger Capella, Minister of Health and Social Development, and Iris Varela, member of the National Assembly) confirmed that "those who signed against President Chávez would be fired because they are committing an act of terrorism". [http://www.eluniversal.com/2004/03/21/pol_art_21108A.shtml]

On April 16, 2005 Chávez declared the "Tascón List must be archived and buried" and continued "I say that, because I keep receiving some letters, among the many I get, that make me think that still in some places they have the Tascón List on their tables to determine if somebody is going to work or not". [http://www.eluniversal.com/2005/04/16/pol_art_16186B2.shtml] Tascón's actions were condemned by both the National Electoral Council and by Marisol Plaza, the Chief Public Prosecutor.

On April 20, 2005, Antonio Ledezma, chair of the political party Alianza Bravo Pueblo sent a petition to Luis Moreno Ocampo, Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), to open an investigation in relation to this case. A case was also opened on the Venezuelan Supreme Court against Tascón in May 2005. [http://buscador.eluniversal.com/2005/05/20/pol_art_20105C.shtml] However, Luis Tascón has parliamentary immunity as an active member of the National Assembly and cannot be tried as long as he is in office.

In March 2006, three former government employees introduced a case against the Chávez administration at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, arguing that José Vicente Rangel, the country's vice president, ordered their dismissal because their names appeared on the Tascón List and, therefore, were victims of discrimination for political reasons. A decision on the case is expected to be reached in October 2006.Update after | 2006 | 11 | 1 [http://www.eluniversal.com/2006/03/14/pol_art_14187A.shtml]

See also

Notes

External links

* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/3247816.stm Recall Referendum Q&A] (BBC)
* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/3479113.stm Head-to-head: Should Chávez leave power?] (BBC)
* [http://newswire.indymedia.org/en/newswire/2004/08/808090.shtml indymedia global newswire] claims of electoral fraud by CNE
* [http://rnv.gov.ve/noticias/?act=ST&f=2&t=7761 referendum result] announced on national radio and television
* [http://analitica.com/ Venezuela Analitica]
* [http://www.cne.gov.ve/referendum_presidencial2004 CNE's Official Results for Recall Referendum] (National Electoral Council (Venezuela))
* [http://www.cartercenter.org/doc1837.htm Carter Center's Executive Summary of Comprehensive Report: 2004 Venezuela Elections] (Carter Center)
* [http://www.cartercenter.org/doc1820.htm Carter Center's Audit of the Results of the Presidential Recall Referendum in Venezuela] (Carter Center)
* [http://www.cartercenter.org/doc1834.htm Carter Center's Report on an Analysis of the Representativeness of the Second Audit Sample, and the Correlation between Petition Signers and the Yes Vote in the August 15, 2004, Presidential Recall Referendum] (Carter Center)
* [http://www.usnews.com/usnews/opinion/baroneweb/mb_040820.htm Exit polls in Venezuela] an analysis by Michael Barone of "U.S. News and World Report".


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