Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Nov 8/05 - On the regime vs. THE PEOPLE: SUMATE as a formidable enemy for a corrupted state

PMBComment: The 7th Judge of the Caracas Circuit has issued an order banning four Sumate activists from leaving the country, among them its founders Alejandro Plaz and Maria Corina Machado.

On July 9th, the 41st Court of Control, presided by Judge Norma Sandoval, had ruled that Alejandro Plaz, María Corina Machado, Luis Enrique Palacios and Ricardo Estévez, should stand trial. She also ruled that they would remain free the duration of the trial.

These four pro-democracy activists were charge by the Public Prosecutor's Office with the crime of "conspiracy" against the government for having received funds from the US based, and publicly funded, National Endowment for Democracy (NED). The funds, less than $50,000, were used to conduct voter education activities in the context of last year's Recall Referendum which, please keep in mind, was the "electoral, constitutional, democratic and peaceful" solution agreed by the Government and the opposition as a result of the facilitation efforts of the OAS, the Carter Center and the UNDP.

This action by a judicial establishment that has demonstrated, time and time again, its subservience to the wishes of the Executive branch is but an instance of what has become an obvious and repulsive pattern of intimidation.

Those observing the December 4th parlamentary election will do well to assume a VERY different attitude that what was the case with Mr. Gaviria and Mr. Carter. In the rush to leave town with something to show for their otherwise fruitless stay, they both turned a blind eye to blatant illegalities and abuses of all kind. They ignored the fact that citizens have the right to vote free from fear. They seem to have forgotten, if they ever knew it, that this is a precondition to voting and counting votes! Not to mention that state sponsored intimidation on a massive scale is sufficient reason to quash any election for failing to meet minimum standards of fairness.

Gaviria’s and Carter’s silence in August 2004 was unacceptable, but the fact that they still remain silent about what they really “observed” while in Caracas and their cowardly failure to speak out about the obvious consequences of the very tainted recall they fumbled, makes them accomplices to what SUMATE's founders, and many many others, are enduring in the never-too-hard battle for freedom and democracy.

What is patently clear is that the work of SUMATE is being duly noted by a fraudulent regime, and I am convinced that the accused and millions of Venezuelans will only be emboldened by the blatant misuse of our legal system. PMB

Post post note: In answer to a readers question on why this measure was taken now, I think that Alejandro Plaz's recent press conference on his European trip in which he presented Sumate's "State of Venezuela's Democracy" had a lot to do with it. What the crude bunch that misgoverns us (and their Cuban handlers) fail to understand is that you can try to cover the sun with your thumb, but you can't blind the world to a reality that glows in the dark..