Friday, September 17, 2004

Sep 17/04- PMB Letter to the Editor of the Economist on Carter Center's slanted version of events

PMB Comment: In this week's edition, The Economist published a letter I wrote to the editor in response to Jennifer McCoy's detailed, but somewhat unconvincing, account of why things turned out so messy in last month's recall referendum. I have nothing to add. PMB

The Economist


Referendum rebuttal

SIR – As a result of a series of grave missteps on the part of the observation teams from the Organisation of American States (OAS) and the Carter Centre, the outcome of the referendum in Venezuela continues to be challenged by a growing number of people in Venezuela and overseas (“By invitation”, September 4th). One cannot but be amazed that President Jimmy Carter was all too happy to swiftly validate the work of the National Election Council (CNE) despite the opposition stating they would be contesting the outcome minutes after it was announced. Jennifer McCoy claims that they proposed a second audit, but this was conducted under pressure from the opposition which publicised the fact that the OAS and Carter Centre had not completed their original “hot audit” and therefore had misled the population when issuing their certification.

That second audit has now been questioned on many grounds including the fact that, through a set of careless procedures, the observers could have been duped when selecting a random sample of centres to audit. The implications of this are daunting. To disprove this conclusion, the observers will now have to admit they relied on a CNE-selected randomisation model run on a CNE computer. This is hardly a safeguard or a point of control when dealing with a CNE that for months had attempted by all means to liberate itself from any foreign observation.

It is tragic that after two years of facilitation in Venezuela, Dr McCoy is unable to own up to the fact that, rather than contributing to the solution of a grave crisis, the OAS and Carter Centre might actually have stoked it.

Pedro Burelli