Sunday, June 11, 2006

Venezuela's Political Disaster - June 11, 2006

Dear Journalists,

The following quote was made by Diego Arria, member of the Advisor board in Inter-American Dialogue and former Venezuelan ambassador to the United Nations, published in El Universal, concerning the delivery and distribution of Kalashnikov rifles to the general population:

"It is absurd to imagine that in a scenario of modern warfare any serious military officer could argue that they could defend their territory with these rifles (Russian-made Kalashnikov assault rifles Venezuela purchased from Moscow) (…) Attention should be paid to the final destination of the weapons, as well as of those to be replaced (old FAL)."
I hope that the international authorities are following up to see the final destination of the Kalashnikov rifles. The next link is to report from the BBC concerning the arrival of the Russian arms to Venezuela:

When I read about Chavez's statements and behavior it reminds me of the profile of a domestic violence abuser as indicated by the Abuser Profile below.

Venezuela as other countries are reporting increase of domestic violence, so I wonder how the citizens in Venezuela would handle the acquisition of Kalashnikov rifles for the general population.

In democracy matters, below please find reaction from Lou Dobbs concerning the build up of Smartmatic:

"DOBBS: Straightforwardly, electronic voting machines are putting our democracy at risk, vulnerable to fraud. As we've been reporting on this broadcast, a Venezuelan company owns one of the leading supplier of electronic voting machines, and that company has ties to the government of Venezuela's strongman, Hugo Chavez.Kitty Pilgrim reports. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): This vote was cast in yesterday's primaries in New Mexico. This vote was cast in Venezuela's recall election in 2004. The same company, Smartmatic, owns the electronic voting systems used in both elections.

Many experts say those voting machines were manipulated in Venezuela to give President Hugo Chavez a victory. Exit polls done by the U.S. firm Penn, Schoen & Berland had Chavez losing 41 percent to 59 percent. But the next day, Chavez declared victory, reversing the score, saying he won 59 percent of the vote.

GUSTAVO COLONEL, FMR. VENEZUELAN CONGRESS MEMBER: Everything was computed in favor of the government. So, the only explanation is that the Smartmatic machines had been programmed in that way.

PILGRIM: A Harvard mathematician crunched the numbers on the Venezuelan election.

RICARDO HAUSMANN, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: I think that the preponderance of the evidence is that there was a fraud in the election. It had to be the Smartmatic system.All these machines talk to a central computer and report on their results. And in that -- in that mechanism, as they communicate with the center, the central machine can report everything.

PILGRIM: Antonio Mujica (ph) and his partner Alfredo Anzola (ph) received a small business loan from the Venezuelan government only months before the recall election. These corporate registration documents from Venezuela show the Venezuelan government owned 28 percent of the stock of another company they started, Vista (ph), which adapted voting software for the Smartmatic machines in the 2004 elections.The same document shows a Chavez government minister, Omar Mantillo (ph), was on the board of directors. The Chavez government gave Vista, Smartmatic and another company a $91 million contract to run voting machines for the 2004 election. The next year, the owners of Smartmatic bought Sequoia, one of the top electronic voting system companies in the United States, for $16 million. That company provided some of the electronic voting machines in yesterday's primary elections. (END VIDEOTAPE)

PILGRIM: Smartmatic says its machines provide error-proof elections, but watchdog groups some members of Congress are saying there's no way this situation should remain unexamined. They want the Treasury Department to review the sale of Sequoia to Smartmatic, and they say that the integrity of the U.S. voting system is at stake.

DOBBS: Well, let's be clear. It is absolutely demonstrable that with the use of electronic voting machines in which we do not have verifiable receipts and a way of independently auditing those votes -- democracy is at risk anyway as we approach the midterm elections. To have the involvement of a Venezuelan government-owned company involved in Smartmatic and Sequoia is -- is absurd. And the idiots at the United States Treasury who are refusing to investigate this and who permitted the sale to go ahead should be held accountable. PILGRIM: It is truly unbelievable, Lou. And it absolutely needs to be re-examined. DOBBS: Where is the State Department in this?

PILGRIM: We put in calls to the State Department, and they have not really responded in any way. They say they can't really comment on this. DOBBS: They can't really comment? Can they do anything? PILGRIM: I'm not sure. DOBBS: Kitty, thank you very much. Remarkable. Terrific reporting. Thank you."


Maru Angarita
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