SPECIAL TO EL UNIVERSAL
If the CNE were to rewrite the most famous declaration for
democracy, it might go like this: "We hold these truths to
be self-evident, that some are more equal than others, and
that to secure this inequality, governments are instituted
among men, deriving their just powers from the command of
the government." This rewrite would remove all reasonable
doubt from what happened in the RR: One, the CNE did not count
the paper ballots as it was bound to do. Two, it did not audit
a true random sample of the votes in the presence of opponents
and observers as it was required to do. Three, it did not
disclose the vote computation system to the observers so in
actuality they could not observe the election. Regardless
of the outcome, the CNE destroyed its institutional legitimacy
right there. It didn't count the ballots. It didn't do its
job. The whole thing was a charade, but here's the astonishing
thing: it worked!
"We will never know the results of the Recall Referendum,"
Jennifer McCoy of the Carter Center said at an Inter-American
Dialogue meeting in Washington last September 7th. She described
the CNE as dysfunctional, flawed and untrustworthy, but the
Carter Center is endorsing the CNE results anyway because
"There's no way to prove the Yes vote got 50%," she said.
This is an interesting piece of logic: we don't know what
the vote was, because we weren't allowed to see it, so we're
certifying the CNE result, because no one can prove that it
is not true. So why not let the No have 99% of the vote, like
Castro got in his last election?
There's a joke going around the internet that has an aide
come to the dictator Juan Vicente Gomez with a bright idea.
"Let's have an election," he says. "Who would win such an
election?" Gomez wonders. "Why, you would, of course." Gomez
thinks and says, "So why have it?" Why have it, indeed. The
idea of the RR was to find a "constitutional, democratic,
electoral solution to Venezuela's crisis of polarization"
- this was said 1,000 times if it was said once. The RR was
not a democratic election. The CNE is not an election commission.
It was not the "consent of the governed" but the "command
of the government" that was being measured by the RR. Democracy
is a zombie in Venezuela: dead, buried, but still walking
Michael Rowan's column is published every Tuesday