Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Electoral apartheid

Electoral apartheid

Veneconomia editorial of Wednesday November 15, 2006

Last week, Súmate launched the book “Apartheid del Siglo XXI: La informática al servicio de la política en Venezuela” (21st Century Apartheid: Computer science at the service of politics in Venezuela). The book, coordinated by Ana Julia Jatar, conclusively documents the systematic, continuous, and sustained discrimination that the Hugo Chávez administration has imposed on individuals and institutions that do not support its political project.

Hugo Chávez was urging, favoring and supporting the division of Venezuelan society for ideological and political reasons even before he came to power, when he repeatedly threatened to fry the heads of his political adversaries. And it is a fact that his almost eight years in office have been marked by an alarming degree of division and political segregation that have resulted in ruin, unemployment, exile, prison and even death for many Venezuelans. There is only one name for such a situation, in any part of the world, and that’s apartheid! That is the situation in Venezuela today.

As Simón Alberto Consalvi aptly says in the prolog to the book, “A country that practices apartheid, systematic discrimination and ideological violence is perhaps not the most apt to form part of groups of countries aiming at achieving ever greater levels of tolerance and civility.”

There is also the fact that people who do not accept dissent or who are wont to persecute and harass those who do not share their political ideas should not govern a country whose constitution establishes democratic rule. Autocratic leaders distort democracy and impose the politics of fear and restrictions on those they govern, besides preventing the country’s economic and social development, as the Bolivarian government has done. They are leaders who even put obstacles in the way of the possibility of changes in government by means of elections, as stipulated Venezuela’s present Constitution.

And without going any further, a practice that falls within the sphere of Bolivarian apartheid is the use of the famous fingerprint-detection machines.

The crux of the matter with these machines is that, first, their use violates the principle of nondiscrimination, as they will only apply to 45% of the voters; and second, and even more important, there is a generally held view in Venezuela that these machines could violate the secrecy of the vote and people are afraid that they could be used to compile information with which to mount a political witch hunt. It was that same fear that prompted hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans to abstain from going to the polls at the elections for regional governors and members of the legislature, and now it could be an impediment to people turning out to vote on December 3, regardless of the fact that today these machines do not pose a threat to the secrecy of the vote.

Nevertheless, the fingerprint identification machines seem to be an integral part of the fraud that the government side will attempt at the presidential elections. They continue to perversely use the threat of these machines to coerce government employees, contractors, members of the missions, and members of their families. What exactly are the international observers observing, since they are apparently unaware of this psychological war being waged by Bolivarian apartheid?