Monday, December 05, 2005

Dec 05/05 - SUMATE Press Conference


DECEMBER 5, 2005 12:30 PM

We want to announce to the country the results of our electoral observation operation; it was based on a random, national, and statistically representative sample. According to this study, the national level of voter participation in the December 4 parliamentary elections was of 17.7 %. Additionally we want to point out that the participation at a regional level was of 14.9 % for the Capital District and of 10.4 % for the State of Carabobo.

The extremely low electoral participation figures are the language in which Venezuelans have chosen to tell the electoral authority and the entire world that that this is not the path towards a better country. Venezuela, an example of democracy in the continent, shows today record low electoral participation figures.

Today Venezuela is different, and Venezuelans have shown they want free elections and will not accept this deeply flawed process which the National Electoral Council (CNE) insists on imposing upon us, a Council whose arrogance is leading us towards exclusion and a single party system. If the National Electoral Council would have listened to the requests of the citizens, the story would now be different. Venezuelans would have voted yesterday and today we would have had a multiple party and legitimate National Assembly.

Yesterday was not –as they insist on telling Venezuelans and the world- a perfectly normal day… what is normal in a democracy and particularly in a democracy such as ours, is that people vote.

Nor was it either a normal polling day since yesterday citizens were intimidated. Public employees were coerced not only by threats -the more than illegal, despicable statement made by Congresswoman Iris Varela according to whom public employees would be dismissed if they did not vote- but also by calls to their private telephone numbers. Perhaps this explains the high number of invalid votes registered. Many people went to vote because they were afraid and then decided to cast a blank vote.

It was not a normal day; on a normal day there would be no official advantage. Yesterday there were clear evidences of it, such as the President’s speech and the constant summons through all the media made by members of the government party and high ranked public officials.

In spite of all these appeals to vote, voting centers were empty throughout the day. Nevertheless, the CNE, in violation of the Suffrage Law and infringing the agreement signed with international observers, extended the voting period beyond 4 pm. According to our figures, over 30% of the votes scrutinized were registered during that extension period.

What has become evident is the categorical failure of the CNE whose de-legitimization has been backed by both government sympathizers and by the opposition. A CNE that now brings forth a likewise illegitimate National Assembly. We cannot continue to contaminate all electoral acts with illegitimacy.

Today, the national government has two options: to continue its strategy of trying to cover the sun with one finger, turn a deaf ear, and continue as if nothing had happened, or listen and ponder the profound meaning of what has happened here and rectify to once again meet with the democratic country.

We, the citizens, will watch carefully, because depending upon the road chosen by the government we will likewise choose our fighting methods until normalcy is reestablished in Venezuela, were we go out to vote and happily elect our legitimate representatives.