Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The opposition primaries.-Súmate makes a proposal!

Originally published here

In an unprecedented show of democratic openness, Súmate is proposing to organize the primaries to find the candidate that will represent the opposition in the forthcoming Presidential elections.

Maria Corina Machado and Ricardo Estévez exposed the rules and the logistics envisioned by Súmate to choose the candidate.

I hope that the CNE and the “Aquelarre” of government officials read them so that they can understand what an OPEN, CLEAN, FAIR and DEMOCRATIC process really means.

The presentation in Power Point can be downloaded from Sumate main page.

Here is the main proposal for the election:

1.- All those registered in the REP as of March 2006 can vote in the Primaries

2.- The elected candidate will be the winner by simple majority

3.- The voting will be MANUAL and the scrutiny will be PUBLIC

4.- All the physical logs will be destroyed.

5.- The whole country will be covered with 3000 centers

Note that Súmate is proposing the destruction of the log material to avoid any type of blacklisting like what happened with the signers of the Revocatory Referendum.

Here is the schedule:


CAMPAIGN: MAY 21st to JULY 14, 2006



Súmate is also asking for volunteers for the organization. If you are interested, here are the telephone number and the email:

(0212) 715.28.15

voluntarios at

So now, we all know what was the “Aquelarre” Willian Lara was talking about! Súmate was preparing a demonstration of democracy in action, that the government officials are not even able to understand.

Reporting from cyberspace,

Jorge Arena
Democratic Venezuelan and Distinguished Ghost.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Willian Lara and Súmate's "Aquelarre"

Originally published here by Jorge Arena

Everytime I see the MINCI home page without any picture of Chávez, I get nervous. I cannot help but wonder what the heavy government weights must be concocting when Yo El Supremo is not in their front page. The explanation might be very simple, the President might be resting for a few days, but, noneless, I always wonder what is going on, in particular when neither the Vice President nor Nicolas Maduro appear in their pages.

My ghost experience has taught me that nothing is irrelevant in the Chavista kingdom of Venezuela.

However, I was relieved to see that at least William Lara, the new Minister of Information was there today, in prime space. This time, the object of his speech was Súmate. He accused the organization of starting the “mediatic machine gun” against the committee that is selecting the new members of the CNE. The article specifically says:

“invitó a venezolanos y venezolanas que se oponen al proceso de cambio democrático liderado por el presidente Chávez que no hagan oídos a este aquelarre montado por Súmate, que probablemente tendrá eco mañana en otros portavoces de la política de Bush, y que se mantengan leales a sus convicciones y prácticas democráticas”.

“Invited Venezuelans that oppose the process of democratic change led by President Chávez not to pay attention to the coven that Súmate is putting into place and that will surely have an echo tomorrow in other spokepersons of Bush’s politics and be [the Venezuelans that oppose..] loyal to their convictions and democratic practices..”

So this Venezuelan and curious blogger was pretty curious about what this “aquelarre” was all about. I looked it up first in the Real Academia and found the following definition:

1. m. Junta o reunión nocturna de brujos y brujas, con la supuesta intervención del demonio ordinariamente en figura de macho cabrío, para la práctica de las artes de esta superstición.

So it seems that the aquelarre is a night meeting of witches with the Devil’s intervention….

So what triggered Minister Lara to use such a charming term against Súmate?

Well, the commission in charge of electing the new CNE is about to provide the definite list in a week or two and the rumors around the National Assembly say that three of the current officials will be re-elected: Oscar Battaglini, Tibisay Lucena and Oscar León. Súmate has objected their names because they say that those individuals did not provide an account of their management or the balance of their budget during the years as CNE officials.

Now, this ghost blogger disagrees for the first time this year with Súmate. They are absolutely, totally wrong to be objecting the term of these three officials based on some trifle like lack of transparency and of accountability! I take advantage of this ghost post to make a formal complaint against Súmate’s objections of those candidates.

In fact, this ghost blogger strongly objects the candidacy of those CNE officials as well, but not because of the mild reasons provided by Súmate, but because of their potential responsibility in handing to the government the personal data of millions of Venezuelans that led to the Tascón list, the Maisanta database and the Batalla de Santa Inés software that has created a political apartheid in Venezuela.

I want these guys to be investigated first. Did they approve the handling of the personal data to the Maisanta campaign? Did they know that the data was being used by Tascón in a public web page? Did they know that the Maisanta command had elaborated a database and a program to be used for political profiling and blacklisting of Venezuelan citizens? Did they protest when they knew of the use of the data? Did they order an internal investigation? Did they realize that the rights of millions of Venezuelans were being violated?

I want to get the answers to those questions first before these guys ever get to be nominated again for the CNE, Mr. Lara. So thank you very much for reminding me that I should be loyal to my democratic convictions. I agree with you, Súmate is wrong this time, but because they are being way too mild.

And, BTW, dear Minister, many thanks also for helping me improve my Spanish vocabulary. I now have a new precise word to ask you the following…

What type of Aquelarre are all the President’s man putting in place these days?

Reporting from Cyberspace,

Jorge Arena
The Devil’s Distinguished Ghost.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

A glimpse into the Sumate trial

Originally published here by Miguel Octavio

(Condensed from ZETA 2/10/2006, trial session on 2/07/2006)

-Judge hears the name of defense lawyer of Luis Palacios and orders him to leave the room (Lawyer had recused him)
-Judge opens session and says the trial is beginning, says nothing about three recusations against him.
-Defense lawyer asks to speak and insists, judge also has him removed from room.
-Accused are left without defense lawyers at this stage, obviously illegal.
-Alejandro Plaz' father, a former Justice of the Supreme Court, gets up says this is a nazi trial, he is also kicked out.
-Juan Martin Echevarria Sr., father of one of the defense lawyers kicked out, addresses the prosecutor, arguing the trial can't start under this conditions.
-Judge ignores argumens, refuses to consider recusations, trial begins.
-Prosecutor asks that the accused be tried in prison.
-Judge goes to the bathroom upon his return (who did he go and consult?) says that trial will resume next Tuesday.
-One of the international observers said as he was going out: "If someone told me this happened, I would not believe it"

Friday, February 10, 2006

The beat goes on for revolutionary Justice in both the Sumate and Tal Cual cases

Originally published here by Miguel Octavio

So, after six failed appeals, the Sixth Appeals Court voids all of the decisions in the case where Sumate is being accused of conspiracy. The reason? That the judge was not using a jury in the case, a decision he made himself in violation of the law. The law says in a case like this the judge has to use at least two jurors and only with the authorization of a higher Court can the trial proceed without jurors. The other six Courts knew the law was being violated but did nothing, for some reason this one did. Now, before you get excited about it, all this really means is that the whole thing is reset and the trial starts again as if the two previous procedures had never taken place..

Then, a couple of hours later the Prosecutor calls the Sumate Board on a new case against them, in which they will also be charged as they are being called to testify as an accused party.. What is it this time around? They are being accused of electoral crimes for abrogating on themslves the representation of the people when they collected the petition in 2003 before there were regulations. Thus, they are basically being investigated because they supposedly had no right to gather or submit signatures requesting a recall referendum. It will be interesting, if I recall correctly, the Supreme Court bypassed the Electoral Hall of that Court on a case related to the referendum once arguing that a referendum was not an "electoral" process. I guess gathering the signatures is even more remote than that, but they simply don't care. The Court can reverse itslef if it suits them.

But the beats go on in the Venezuelan Justice system, as Tal Cual reports that the case files against that newspaper, in which the paper is being prosecuted twice for the same crime, have not been made available to the lawyers of the paper in violation of the law. What else is new?

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Sumate under fire Editorial in El Nacional

Translation published here by Miguel Octavio.

Sumate under fire. El Nacional.

The official persecution of the directors of the civil ONG Sumate is reaching its end.

They are accused of conspiring "to alter the Republican order", as if they had tried to implant a monarchy in Venezuela, no more, no less. As if armed with machine guns, rockets, tanks and bombers, they had placed in danger the soundness and continuity of the supposed Bolivarian revolution.

The Government demonstrates with this that is it is not prepared to accept the smallest discrepancies, not the least dissidence, or the most discreet request that the 2006 elections be presided by a National Electoral Council (CNE) that can be trusted. That is what Sumate always asked for, interpreting the large majority of Venezuelans, nothing different, even, to what has been requested by international organizations such as the OAS. Nothing different from the observations made by the hemispheric organization in its report about the elections of December 4th.

There are a few ways to read the trial against Sumate. One of them is the intransigence and the intolerance of the regime. Another one, the wish of taking advantage of the punishment against the directors so that everybody learns the lesson and the requests for more transparent and fair conditions for all citizens cease.

That people shut up out of fear.

The Electoral year projects itself as a year of persecutions and threats, while the officialist train moves at high speed towards December 3d. As dangerous conspirators, the Prosecutor asked the 7th. Court that Maria Corina Machado and Alejandro Plaz be tried separately, since others accused, Luis Enrique Palacios and Ricardo Esteves, are being accused of "complicity". But, on top of that, as conspirators of great danger, they should be tried behind bars. No wonder the defense lawyers warn that at the next hearing both Machado as well as Plaz could be jailed.

The defense has denounced a number of irregularities along the process. The accused were not allowed to speak.

The representative from the Prosecutor's office reiterated the request that they be tried in prison, despite the decision by the Supreme Court that forbids it. Thus, not even these formalitities are taken into consideration.

When lawyer Juan Martin Echeverria jr. insisted on speaking, the judge ordered the constables to remove him from the room. If one wants to have an idea how the trial is being carried out, this detail is sufficient. You can guess what the outcome will be.

As stated above, Machado and Plaz are being accused of the crime of conspiracy to "destroy the form of republican politics that the nation has been given" Among the crimes they have been charged with is receiving money from the organization National Endowment for Democracy of the United States. Palacios and Estevez face the same process for the same crime, but as accomplices.

The Prosecutor Ortega Diaz requested the maximum penalty for the crime of conspiracy, 16 years.

This rigor has no precedent in a country where military conspirators (like our President) were judged only by military judges, never suffered sentences of that magnitude and always ended being benefited from measures of pardon. Even in bloody occasions (like February 4th. 1992) in which the uprisings left hundreds of dead. Now that the coup plotters from the Saman de Guere are in power, they see with horror the specter of subversion. They see conspirators even in organizations like Sumate. But the civilians never threatened anyone.

Sumate has acted openly, has accounted for its income and expenses. To say that the meetings of Sumate did not have as their objective electoral training of the citizens but a subversive end, that of overthrowing the Bolivarian regime, is a valid argument only for idiots. One would have to give the Sumate Board an award for those "conspirators" that respect the law: they would be an exception in the history of Venezuela.

And it is this almighty regime, where the military predominates, the most armed, the one that has had the largest resources, the one that feels threatened. It is like one of those tales of Antonio Arraiz where tio Conejo (Uncle Rabbit) makes tio Tigre (Uncle Tiger) run. Unfortunately the question can not be one for being festive, because what is in danger is the freedom of some citizens worthy of esteem that have believed in the perfectibility of our institutions and have advocated for that. You can not condemn them with coarse lies.

Let's defend now justice and let us all reject this absurd trial.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

More (In) Justice from the Revolution

Originally published here by Miguel Octavio

So, on the same day that Teodoro Petkoff received a second notification of a process being opened against him and his newspaper (same case, two processes!), the Prosecutor General asked for up to 16 years of jail for the leaders of Sumate Maria Corina Machado and Alejandro Plaz, for the crime of receiving $30,000 for electoral education from a foreign source, in this case the bipartisan US Foundation, the National Endowment for Democracy.

Curiously, Chavez and his cronies were found innocent of violating any laws in the case of the proven donation of US$ 1.5 million by Spanish bank BBVA to Chavez’ Presidential campaign. And in another case of Bolivarian justice, the Government plans to build a monument to honor the infamous shooters of Puente El LLaguno, who, of course, were declared innocent.

I guess these judges when they drink in private sing in harmony with the President of the Supreme Court “Uh Ah Chavez no se va”. Some (In)Justice!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

The Rose That Is a Thorn in Chávez's Side

The Saturday profile by the NYT

Originally published here by Juan Forero.