Thursday, February 16, 2012

Venezuela Opposition Voting Records '100% Destroyed'

The opposition in Venezuela has burned many of the records with the names of voters who participated in Sunday’s primary elections, the New York Times reports. Representatives from the Coalition for Democratic Unity declared that “100 percent” of the voting notebooks have been destroyed, reports El Universal.

Venezuela’s Supreme Court ordered the opposition coalition to turn over the log books, which listed the identities of at least three million people. The opposition called the ruling “absurd, unconstitutional and disproportionate.” They said that they destroyed the records in order to prevent the voters from suffering reprisals from the government, as appeared to happen when the opposition submitted a referendum to remove President Hugo Chavez from office in 2004. The three million signatures to the referendum became public, and there were reports that the government used the information to persecute the signatories. Many of those who appeared on the list complained of losing their jobs with government agencies, or other government benefits.

Blog the Devil’s Excrement notes that in 2009, the Supreme Court ruled that such voting records are confidential and “cannot be handed over.” Globovision posted a record of the ruling, which, as the Devil’s Excrement points out, appears to be dated incorrectly.

The Miami Herald reports on Chavez’s critique of the opposition coalition, calling them “fascist” for ignoring the court order and burning the voter records.

News Briefs
  • The New York Times with a feature on the effect of Cuba’s relaxed real estate laws on the housing market. The article notes that the market is still on the small-scale, as brokers remain outlawed in Cuba, and the most significant beneficiaries appear to be Cuban emigres with savings to spare.
  • The Times features a poverty program in Venezuela designed to occupy children with classical music. The program’s most famous pupil is Los Angeles Philharmonic conductor Gustavo Dudamel.
  • The Washington Post on the anniversary of the murder of US law enforcement agent Jaime Zapata in Mexico last year, with a special focus on how his armored SUV failed to prevent his death after he was ambushed by the Zetas.
  • Argentina criticized the planned visit by several British MPs to the Falklands Islands, calling it more evidence of the UK’s “militarization” of the islands, the BBC reports.
  • The AP on protests in Venezuela against an oil spill which contaminated the local water supply in the eastern Monagas state. The ongoing protests on Wednesday appeared to contradict claims by the government that the spill had been contained.
  • Ecuador’s Supreme Court ratified the verdict which would force four journalists to pay $42 million in libel damages after they published material critical of President Rafael Correa. The AP reports.
  • Senator Richard Lurger (R-Ind.) has an opinion piece in the Miami Herald criticizing the relationship between Iran and Venezuela, urging the US to reduce energy dependence on the Latin American country, and to approve the construction of a pipeline which would ship oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast, currently dependent on refining Venezuelan oil.
  • The BBC on Cuba’s announcement that the country will attend the Summit of the Americas in Colombia this April if invited, a meeting which typically only involves democratic countries in the region.

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