Venezuela: Opposition makes 'impossible demands', then boycotts audit

After previously backing the proposed audit, Capriles announced a boycott of the process after making demands described by as "i

On April 23, Chris Carlson wrote at Venezuela Analysis:

*** Opposition leader Henrique Capriles claimed yesterday that the presidential elections were “stolen”, and demanded further audit measures that the Venezuelan government has said are “impossible”.

Capriles made the statements during a press conference on Wednesday in which he gave the government an ultimatum regarding the audit.

“The truth is that you stole the elections, that’s the truth. You stole the elections and now you have to explain that to the country and the world,” he said.

Capriles demanded that the National Electoral Council (CNE) begin the auditing process immediately, and said his campaign will refuse to wait any longer.

“That is what we are demanding. We will give you until tomorrow,” he said, though he did not say what would happen if the CNE did not respond.

However, the CNE had already said last week that it would announce the beginning of the audit this week, and was expected to make an announcement today.

The Capriles campaign went on to demand a series of additional audit measures that are not included in the audit that has been approved by the CNE. His campaign representative Roberto Picón said that in addition to a complete audit of the electoral machines and the paper ballots, they are also demanding access to the electoral registry, the fingerprint system and a verification of each individual voter.

“We are asking for complete access to the electoral registry, not only to count how many people voted but also to audit all of the details, to audit the people that voted to see if there are dead people who voted, or foreigners, or duplicates, and to see if there are fake fingerprints,” said Picón.

He further said that they are demanding the CNE validate every individual fingerprint in the system, comparing each fingerprint to every other to assure none are duplicated, validate every person’s signature on the day of the elections and that they provide proof that none of the electoral data has been altered since the elections last week.

“If it doesn’t include the electoral registry, then it is not an audit. We won’t accept a shoddy audit,” said Capriles.

Various government officials have responded to these demands, saying they would be impossible to meet, and that the Capriles campaign knows it.

“They are making requests to the CNE that are absolutely impossible to grant. They are asking that every fingerprint and every signature of the almost 15 million people who participated in the electoral process be verified,” said Calixo Ortega.

“This would take like 5 years to verify, because it takes hours to verify a single fingerprint or signature, and there are 15 million that would have to be verified,” he said.

“It appears that they are purposely making requests that cannot be granted so that they can later say that the CNE has denied their request,” he explained.

Maduro’s campaign manager Jorge Rodgriguez also responded to Capriles, accusing him of attempting to create more violence in the country.

“Now Capriles says the elections were stolen. Where is the proof? Where is a single piece of evidence of that? If you can’t show any evidence, then it didn’t happen,” said Rodriguez.

Rodriguez also accused Capriles of attempting to generate more violence in the country.

“What are you doing giving the government an ultimatum like that? You have already left a cemetery in your wake with 9 fellow Venezuelans dead from the violence you created,” he said.

Capriles has yet to present any evidence of fraud in the April 14th elections. In the days following the elections, he mentioned various examples that were all promptly shown to be false.

Venezuela’s electoral council is expected to announce the timeframe of the auditing process today or tomorrow. It is unlikely that the additional measures being demanded by the Capriles campaign will be included in the audit. ***

On April 26, Ryan Mallett-Outtrim wrote at Venezuela Analysis:

*** After striking a deal with the National Electoral Council for an audit of the April 14 elections last week, yesterday opposition leader Henrique Capriles called for a boycott of the process. He then vowed to contest the results in Venezuela's Supreme Court.

Reiterating his demands for a total audit of just under 15 million fingerprints and signatures, Capriles then told media that “if we don't have access to the registers, we are not going to participate”.

“We're not going to take part in an audit that would be a joke on Venezuelans and a joke on the world.”

“The next step will be to contest the election [outcome]... in the next few days. With all the proof... we now have, we are going to challenge the election,” he said.

While stating that he does not expect “the Supreme Court to give us a favourable reply”, Capriles said that would go “go through all the legal procedures”.

He then called for opposition supporters to protest on 1 May, a move criticised by the government.

Today, Bolivarian Socialist Workers' Central General Coordinator Carlos Lopez told media that over half a million Chavistas are expected to march on May Day, and expressed fears that the opposition intends to create violence.

An investigation into Capriles' role in a wave of violence involving opposition protesters following the 14 April elections is already under way, and Prisons Minister Iris Varela has publicly stated “we are preparing a cell for you [Capriles] because you must pay for your crimes”.

Opposition protests resumed on Wednesday night, after a televised government announcement interrupted a live interview with Capriles on Globovision.

The announcement accused Capriles of fomenting violence following the elections, under the false pretext of electoral fraud.

The National Electoral Council is expected to announce the start of the audit later today. ***