Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Venezuela Gov't Steps Up Anti-Referendum Offensive (criminal investigations ordered)
yahoo.comnews ^ | September 3, 2003 | Tomas Sarmiento, Reuters

Posted on 09/04/2003 2:38:10 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife

CARACAS, Venezuela (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's government on Wednesday stepped up its offensive against an opposition bid to hold a referendum on his rule, calling for a criminal investigation into a group that collected pro-vote signatures.

This followed comments by left-winger Chavez in Cuba on Tuesday that he would not accept opposition signatures calling for a poll, even if they were approved as legitimate by the country's newly appointed National Electoral Council.

The government's verbal and legal offensive against the referendum bid stoked fears of renewed conflict in the world's No. 5 oil exporter, which has been rocked by political feuding between Chavez's followers and foes.

The populist president, who is accused by opponents of ruling like a dictator, insists that more than three million pro-referendum signatures presented by opposition leaders last month are invalid.

Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel filed a complaint on Wednesday with state prosecutors against the private group Sumate, which had coordinated the nationwide collection of pro-vote signatures.

Rangel alleged Sumate violated electoral law by gathering the signatures in early February at the end of a grueling two-month opposition general strike.

"All this process (was carried out) without the involvement of the National Electoral Council, the electoral power," Rangel said in a statement.


He called for a criminal inquiry into the funding and activities of Sumate, which describes itself as a non-profit, non-government organization but is linked to the opposition.

The United States, which has backed the idea of a referendum to solve Venezuela's crisis, said on Wednesday it was willing to provide technical assistance for a poll if the Venezuelan electoral authority requested this.

After meeting National Electoral Council leaders in Caracas, U.S. ambassador Charles Shapiro offered help from the International Foundation For Election Systems (IFES), a U.S.-based non-government group.

"If the opposition complies with the legal requirements, Venezuela's constitution orders that a referendum be held ... the National Electoral Council acts as judge," Shapiro said.

The constitution requires the signatures of at least 20 percent of the registered electorate -- around 2.4 million signatures -- to legally trigger the vote.

Chavez asserted in Havana his government had proof the opposition had used signatures taken from bank lists, or signatures of dead people, to draw up the referendum request.

"If the National Electoral Council decides those signatures with those faults are legal, that would be a destabilizing decision," he said after meeting Cuban President Fidel Castro.

"The signatures ... are absolutely valid," Jesus Torrealba of the opposition Coordinadora Democratica coalition said Wednesday. But he added the opposition was ready to collect the signatures again if it had to.

The National Electoral Council still has to rule on the validity of the pro-vote signatures, and set an election date.

Former paratrooper Chavez was first elected in 1998, re-elected in 2000 and survived a coup last year. He dismisses his foes as rich "oligarchs" trying to overthrow him.

TOPICS: Business/Economy; Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; Front Page News; Government; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: communism; fidelcastro; hugochavez; latinamerica; latinamericalist; venezuela
Castro Closes Ranks With Friendly Leaders Mugabe, Chavez *** Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez — who faces his own headaches at home, where last week he announced new plans by opponents to topple him — joined Castro and in a fiery speech criticized leaders of powerful industrialized nations for promising grand solutions yet doing nothing to solve developing nations' grave environmental and financial problems.
1 posted on 09/04/2003 2:38:11 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: Cincinatus' Wife
Castro, Chavez, Mugabe... with a big round of applause and back-slapping from Jimmy Carter and Koffi Anan.
2 posted on 09/04/2003 4:39:28 AM PDT by samtheman
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Cincinatus' Wife
Chavez is so guilty, it's beyond laughable. He'll be leaving sooner than he planned.
3 posted on 09/04/2003 4:43:01 AM PDT by ChadGore (Kakkate Koi!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: samtheman
Castro, Hussain, Chavez, Mugabe
4 posted on 09/04/2003 4:43:36 AM PDT by ChadGore (Kakkate Koi!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: *Latin_America_List
5 posted on 09/04/2003 5:24:19 AM PDT by Libertarianize the GOP (Ideas have consequences)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: Cincinatus' Wife
Is this guy a cousin of Cruz Bustamante
6 posted on 09/04/2003 7:47:23 AM PDT by Jimbaugh (They will not get away with this. Developing . . . . .)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson