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Caracas, Tuesday August 31 , 2004  
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Rafael Alfonzo: Venezuelan voters spoke but Carter failed to count their votes

Rafael Alfonzo, a representative of the opposition at the Negotiation and Agreement Table that signed a pact with the government in May, 2003, including an eventual presidential recall referendum, sent a letter to The Wall Street Journal questioning the performance of former U.S. president Jimmy Carter as international observer of the recall vote held in Venezuela this month.

In the letter, Alfonzo said: "As a member of the Coordinadora Democrática Commission that negotiated the agreement with the Carter Center and the Organization of American States (OAS) to oversee the referendum to recall Hugo Chavez, I read, with dismay and alarm, President Jimmy Carter's Aug. 24 Letter to the Editor in reference to Mary O'Grady's Aug. 20 Americas column "Observers Rush to Judgment in Caracas."

He explained that "with dismay, to see how a Nobel Prize winner is capable of misrepresenting the facts of the electoral process, as well as covering up actions of an autocratic regime that for almost two years managed to postpone the referendum, abusing all its powers and using all kinds of "dirty tricks." And with alarm for his irresponsible rush to validate a slow-motion fraud process that started to occur more than a year before and that culminated with a monumental electronic fraud. Nevertheless, Mr. Carter writes: "We observed the entire voting process without limitation or restraint . . . and extra care was taken to ensure accuracy."

"That's quite an assertion when in reality Mr. Carter accepted being reduced by the government-controlled electoral council to the role of a mere onlooker who was not even allowed to be present in the electoral control center during the process. A role that the European Community naturally refused to accept," Alfonzo added in the letter.

The business leader also said that "back in Florida in 2000, Mr. Carter demanded the manual count of all votes to reach 'definitive and exact electoral results.' Why he resorted to a double standard in our case is a matter for which he probably will never have any satisfactory explanation."

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