Election Alert #8: Seeking Competitive Elections in Venezuela (report, analysis)

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This bulletin, which circulates bi-monthly, is produced by a group of Venezuelan social organizations, together with journalists and academics. The main objective of this publication is to alert the international community to developments in the electoral campaign for the October 7 presidential elections and regional elections on December 16, 2012.

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Election Alert #8: Seeking Competitive Elections in Venezuela (report, analysis)

  1. 1. ELECTION ALERT 2012 VENEZUELAN ELECTIONS For free, fair, and competitive elections EDITORIAL Seeking Competitive Elections Venezuelans’ historic turnout for the presidential elections ofThis bulletin, which October 7 (80.48% of all registered voters) and acceptancecirculates bi-monthly, of the results by all parties might indicate that this electoralis produced by a group process was an example for the democratic world.of Venezuelan socialorganizations, togetherwith journalists and Indeed, the efforts of political parties, non-governmental organizations and civilacademics. The main society in general to achieve the necessary conditions for elections recognized byobjective of this all parties to be held are laudable and noteworthy. Nevertheless, the failure topublication is to alert the comply with basic international electoral—and democratic—standards detracts frominternational community Venezuelans’ historic election turnout.to developments in theelectoral campaign for the Initially, crucial problems could be identified in four areas: the use of institutionalforthcoming October 7, advertising (including officials broadcasts) and government resources to do political2012 elections. 1
  2. 2. ELECTION For free, fair, and competitive elections ALERT 2012 VENEZUELAN ELECTIONSproselytizing, unbalanced coverage public communiqués of independentby the media, involvement of public “Of its five current electoral experts who made up the fiveofficials in the campaign (underpressure by third parties or of their members, four, national observation organizations accredited by the CNE.own free will) and misinformation— including itsor the concealment of informationby the election authority—on vital president, have ties In order for Venezuelan elections to be truly competitive theprocesses and areas of the election’s to a greater or lesser recommendations that were issuedorganization that remainedconsistently outside the oversight extent to the Chávez six years ago in the report by the European Union’s Internationalof political parties. Although it administration and Observation Mission must be revisited.cannot be affirmed that this lackof information—and access— one has ties to the The electoral oversight body must give priority to mechanisms for penalizinginfluenced the outcome of the opposition” violations that are provided for underelections, it is one example of how the Basic Law on Electoral Processesthe election authority ignored the [Ley Orgánica de Procesos Electorales]basic principle of transparency and balance that should (LOPRE), the Elections Authority Act [Ley del Podercharacterize an election. Electoral] (LOPE), and the General Electoral Regulations of LOPRE so that violations committed are penalized duringUnbalanced coverage in the media, the use of public the campaign and not after the elections.resources and involvement of public officials in thecampaign are problems that could be prevented if In order to prevent those in power from having an unfairthe National Electoral Council (CNE) exercised the electoral advantage, the CNE could follow the exampleenforcement powers it is vested with pursuant to of electoral legislation from Colombia, Brazil or MexicoVenezuelan law. Unfortunately, however, the role in order to try and reduce—or eventually ban—the useof the electoral oversight body was geared toward of institutional advertisement of government works as aallowing an unfair electoral advantage and avoiding the guise for electoral propaganda during the campaign.imposition of penalties for the use of public resourcesand government assets in order to favor one of the In addition to regulating the use of public resourcespresidential candidates. and assets, the technical issues listed below need to be urgently addressed:In this regard, in its preliminary report on the Venezuelanelectoral process, the Carter Center explained the · The CNE needs to be transparent with regard toorigin of these failures on the part of the Venezuelan the procedure it follows to select polling stationelectoral body. “Of its five current members, four, coordinators and technical personnel, who are workingincluding its president, have ties to a greater or lesser in an increasingly complex Venezuelan voting system.extent to the Chávez administration and one has ties According to national observers of the October 7thto the opposition. The CNE’s political leanings help to elections, “the problems that emerged both regardingexplain its scant enthusiasm for addressing some of center coordinators, as well as members of the Planthe campaign’s issues, in particular those related to República, are noteworthy. There were cases in whichcampaign regulations, as well as its inconsistent efforts coordinators took on roles that went beyond theirin enforcing such regulations.” purview, placing themselves above [the authority] of the chairs and other members of the election board, inGenerally speaking, all political parties agreed that clear violation of the regulations in force. This unlawfulthe automated voting system worked satisfactorily on positioning was at the root of difficulties faced by severalOctober 7 thanks to the participation of the candidates’ observers in doing their job.electoral experts in 16 audits of the voting platform.Nonetheless, other issues still urgently require attention - The CNE should report on how many members of thefrom the Venezuelan electoral authorities and the election boards selected randomly by the CNE wereinternational community, as can be gathered from the actually trained and worked at polling stations. This2
  3. 3. ELECTION For free, fair, and competitive elections ALERT 2012 VENEZUELAN ELECTIONSinformation is crucial in order to clearly ascertain voting continued until 10:00 PM, the time when thewhether political activists have control of the election election results were being announced. Approximatelyboards on election day. 50,000 voters still do not know the results of their polling stations because the manual tabulation record was not- The regulations on disabled voters that are to be adequately processed.accompanied when voting remains unenforced andis used to pressure voters. According to a report by - The CNE must be accountable with regard toAsamblea de Educación (one of the five national the functioning of the equipment for “biometricobservation groups endorsed by the CNE) at 6.3% of the identification,” known as the Integrated Authenticationpolling stations observed, the regulations on companions System [Sistema de Autenticación Integrado] (SAI),for assisted voting were not respected. Based on the which has been integrated into the voting machine.total number of polling stations, this would come to Specifically, the CNE should clarify to what extent this2,477. It is impossible to know how many votes were cast equipment effectively identified voters as compared tounder coercion. the CNE’s expectations and the equipment’s technical specifications.- The CNE must clearly inform the Plan República, pollingstation coordinators and the community in general Finally, it is noteworthy that given the absence ofthat polling stations may close at 6:00 PM if no voters qualified international election observation missionsare in line. National observers reported extensive lack in the country for the October 7th elections—withof compliance (13%) with the rule that establishes the the exception of the efforts undertaken by the Carterclosing time of polling stations. This situation may have Center—non-governmental organizations (NGOs),been aggravated by the CNE’s failure to announce in a whether recognized or not by the CNE, played a vitaltimely manner the conclusion of voting. role in monitoring electoral conditions. This kind of initiatives should be strengthened, especially in order to- Opposition experts have demanded that the CNE guarantee the Independence of NGOs’ work, as the onlyimprove its quality control procedures for voting manner in which Venezuela will be able to hold electionsmachines and establish appropriate contingency in the future that are free, fair and competitive.procedures. It is unacceptable that at a given moment1,400 machines at polling stations failed to work andthat 400 machines were switched to manual voting.There were numerous cases of polling places where 3
  4. 4. ELECTION For free, fair, and competitive elections ALERT 2012 VENEZUELAN ELECTIONS ANALYSISThe State Worked for [the Incumbent’s] ReelectionThis past October 7th the campaign for the Presidency of the Republic concluded.This was a campaign in which diverse actors of the Venezuelan State participated inactions which, although legal in form and appearance, had consequences that gavedirect and indirect advantages to President Chávez.The official electoral campaign began on July 1st, but the string of abuses began wellbefore that date. The use of forces of the powerful and millionaire Venezuelan statecontrolled by the President was effective in achieving the goal of maintaining his gripon power.The table below lists some of the most significant measures and decisions andoutlines how the State and authorities clearly targeted their decisions to favor[Chávez’s] re-election.4
  5. 5. ELECTION For free, fair, and competitive elections ALERT 2012 VENEZUELAN ELECTIONS 1 5 In practice the incum- bent had 10 extraIn June 2012 The Supreme The 10 minutes of TV and minutes, in addition toCourt of Justice (TSJ) wrested The two cards of these radio time provided to social the 3 minutes per day onparty leadership from the team parties on the electoral organizations under the Social each channel that thethat won the Patria para Todos ballot totaled almost Responsibility on Radio and electoral rules allow.(PPT) and Podemos’ internal 400,000 votes for Chávez: Television Act [Ley Resorte] to This additional propa-elections, handing over control PPT: 219,794 votes foster dissemination of society’s ganda is on top of theof the parties’ names and assets Podemos: 155,944 votes cultural activities were used to institutional advertisingto minority factions that promote government measures by enterprises, ministriessupport Chávez. and exalt Chávez. and social missions that exalted the figure of the President of the Republic. 2The party UnidadDemocrática withdrew itssupport for Henrique Capriles Reina Sequera obtained: 6Radonski in September, after With her card:the electoral ballots had been 4,451 votes Unfettered use of publicmade, and threw their support Card with Capriles’ face: Feeling of obligation on resources and funds for thebehind the candidate Reina 65,909 votes the part of public campaign. Ministries, publicSequera. The CNE accepted this servants as on some enterprises and other publicchange and refused to change occasions they were agencies actively worked on thethe card on which Capriles’ made to participate and campaign, promoting thephoto and name remained. on other occasions they President’s candidacy with benefited from partici- propaganda on its buildings, pating in these events. 3 offices and web pages.Three parties: MAPVE,PIEDRA, PANA, withdraw their Disqualified: 66,696 votessupport for Capriles Radonski from the parties MAPVE, 7in September, when the PIEDRA, PANAelectoral ballot with his photo Missions and resourceand name had been approved. provision. Provision ofThe votes cast for these parties housing, promises of futurewere disqualified. provision and threats of losing Formal and informal or not receiving housing if the pressure to sway the vote president lost. in favor of the govern- During President Chávez’s ment. Vote buying and 4 “cadenas” [“chain broadcasts”] direct pressure in favor of Unlimited presence of and other programs, ministers the incumbent president President Chávez. How and other members of his party many votes does this in the media. repeated that if the otherFrom January 1 to October 1, translate into? What is the impact of a candidate won, people would2012, there were a total of 104 media campaign of this lose their housing or other“cadenas” [“chain broadcasts”] magnitude on the benefits they were receiving.for a total of 8460 minutes, electorate’s decision? Investment in social programswhich translates into approxi- 50% of the “cadenas” and missions in 2012 (as ofmately one radio and television took place when the October) has totaled“cadena” every three days. other candidate was on Bs. 52,637,000,000 (US the air because of an $12,241,000,000). event. Several “cadenas” were pre-recorded, pre-produced programs. 5
  6. 6. ELECTION For free, fair, and competitive elections ALERT 2012 VENEZUELAN ELECTIONS 8 11 Lack of confidence about Groups of motorcyclists went Increase in the frustra- secrecy of the vote. The CNE around polling stations in the tion of millions of not only failed to promote the cities, causing concern, Venezuelans, and along absolute guarantee of the distress and fear. In some with it, their apathy and secrecy of electors’ decisions, places they shot into the air, mistrust of the demo- rather, to the contrary, it in others they merely played cratic system. openly promoted this new bugles and yelled. direct cable connection of each voting machine with the Integrated Authentication System [Sistema de Autenti- cación Integrado] (SAI) (each Created fear, which was fingerprint one vote). heightened by direct According to a study by the messages from the firm Datanálisis, 48% of the United Socialist Party of 12 voters – prior to October 7 – Venezuela [Partido Votes co-opted by the had some kind of doubt Socialista Unido de Placement of polling stations government from among about the secrecy of the vote Venezuela] (PSUV). in shelters for disaster victims, recipients of benefits or in the presidential elections in mission housing buildings, housing, or those under and admitted that this fear etc. recipients care. might impact how they voted. Another study done in 2011 by the firm Delphos indicated that 46% of Venezuelans who belonged to segments D and E of the population (the poorest segments) were afraid to talk to their neigh- 13 bors about politics and their electoral preferences. Obstacles for Venezuelans It is estimated that one abroad to register to vote. million Venezuelans have 9 left the country. 480,000 of them are of legal age Reports were submitted with and are entitled to vote, Mistrust of Plan photos and videos of military but only 100,000 were República, the group of personnel collaborating with able to register. military personnel that President Chávez’s campaign. protects polling stations. 10 Introduction of a verification table at the entrance to the 14 polling station, which is not provided for in its U-shaped The Venezuelan Consulate in Of the hundreds of layout. This became a Miami was closed and 19,000 thousands Venezuelans chokepoint that delayed the voters, residents in the The opposition assures in Florida, only 19,000 process in the morning, jurisdiction of Florida, were that the information were able to register to during which voters had to reassigned to New Orleans for from this equipment vote. Of those, only wait four or five hours to vote. purposes of voting. (voters’ gender and age 9,000 made it to New The electoral regulations do range) was used to guide Orleans to cast their vote. not specifically require the operations to mobilize use of this data [verification] Chávez supporters. station.6
  7. 7. ELECTION For free, fair, and competitive elections ALERT 2012 VENEZUELAN ELECTIONS 15 16 According to the report by Asamblea de As of the date this report was Assisted voting. Despite Educación (one of the published, the CNE had not being prohibited on paper, five national observation responded to the complaints Increase in the in many remote areas and groups endorsed by the filed by civil society organiza- frustration of millions small towns, public servants, CNE) at 6.3% of the tions and political parties. of Venezuelans, and members of parties and the polling stations Likewise, they had not along with it, their military went to the voting observed, the regula- responded to the eight apathy and mistrust of machines to “help” people tions regarding compan- communiqués sent by the democratic system. cast their ballot. ions for assisted voting Transparencia Venezuela with were not respected. the reports on the complaints Based on the total received and requests for number of polling information. stations, this would come to 2,477. It is impossible to know how many votes were cast under coercion.We believe that the worst consequence of these complex and extremely shady dealings is the frustration andapathy of many Venezuelans who see how public assets are used to favor one political group, while not one formalauthority of the State stands up for equity, legality and balance. The rules are flexible and change or are interpretedas convenient. Each and every one of these actions were taken with the consent of the National Electoral Council(CNE), the same body that now has the responsibility of organizing and arranging the December 16 gubernatorialelections.¿Budget for Elections? NATIONAL SYSTEM OF PUBLIC MEDIA2013 Bs.284 BillionAs can been seen in the chart below, the investment Radio Mundial Venezuelan News Ávila Tvin missions and social programs increased from Radio Zulia Agency (AVN) Correo del OrinocoBs.21,000,000,000 to Bs. 52,637,000,000 during this Radio Margarita La Radio del Sur EDUMEDIAelection year through additional credits the executive National Radio of Venezuelan Social A.N RADIOrequested and the National Assembly (with a majority Venezuela (RNV) Television (TEVES)from the party in power) approved without objection or 150questions. In other words, the president of the republicand his administration’s team had Bs. 52,637,000,000 120(US $12,241,000,000) in 2012 to spend, with great fanfare, VTVon some twenty-four social assistance programs ofdifferent kinds. It must be noted that we do not have 90access to information regarding objective data on theseexpenditures, nor the goals and objectives reached, other 60than what is stated in the propaganda. Media Campaigns ANTV T.V 30 Sur 0 7
  8. 8. ELECTION For free, fair, and competitive elections ALERT 2012 VENEZUELAN ELECTIONS corruption as elements of the National Armed Forces have Missions and Social Programs been placed at the service of a partisan political group. 52,637 66,043 - Plans to deploy illegal surveillance and monitoring of 20,879 opposition leaders. Real The document “Operation for the Cohesion and variation Organization of the People’s Power – Bolivarian Militia – 4,47% People’s Guard in Defense of the Plan República and the 2012 2012* 2013 Leader’s Will” legally implicates the Bolivarian National*plus additional credits Guard, the Ministry of the People’s Power for Defense and the Bolivarian Government of Venezuela, which are–THE PEOPLE’S POWER – BOLIVARIAN MILITIA – PEOPLE’S responsible for conceiving, drafting and implementing itGUARD OPERATION PROOF OF ELECTORAL CORRUPTION on October 7 last, the day the presidential elections wereIN VENEZUELA held in our country.Throughout election day on October 7, it was obvious This is a document that in and of itself contains decisivefor the inhabitants of the Caracas metropolitan area facts that allow for the Public Ministry to initiate a criminaland many regions of the country how citizens were investigation by means of notitia criminis in keepingcompulsively taken to vote by government supporters with Article 68 of the Anti-Corruption Act [Ley Contra laafter 2 in the afternoon. The most serious thing is what Corrupción]. This Act provides for prison terms of one tohas been exposed by the daily newspaper El Universal three years for civil or military personnel who, in abuse of(click here to see the article), known as the “Operation their office, use their position to favor a candidate in anfor the Cohesion and Organization of the People’s Power election.– Bolivarian Militia – People’s Guard in Defense of thePlan República and the Leader’s Will” [“Dispositivo para The statement published by the daily newspaperla cohesión y articulación del Poder Popular, Milicia El Universal outlines unlawful arrangements andBolivariana, Guardia del Pueblo en defensa del Plan coordination with officers of the National Armed ForcesRepublica y de la voluntad del soberano”] (click here to who worked to mobilize citizens and carry out intelligencesee the document), in addition to statements (click here to activities against rivals the day of the elections. This islisten to them) that clearly implicate what is known as the a crime and underscores the partisanship and politicallyBolivarian National Militia [Milicia Nacional Bolivariana] motivated actions of active military personnel at thein acts of electoral corruption that undermine the service of the Bolivarian Revolution.legitimacy of the electoral process in Venezuela. In the audio interview that El Universal publishes, highThe document and statements reveal: ranking military officers are mentioned by first and last name, including the President of Social Security and the- Political bias in the Bolivarian Militia and People’s Guard’s Governor of Vargas State, and there are references madeactions regarding the electoral process, by mentioning to illegal actions by the CNE itself. This matter does“the counter-revolutionary forces” as adversaries to be not seem to be of interest to the Public Ministry, which,neutralized. despite having the authority to initiate an investigation of this operation implemented by the People’s Guard and the- Plans to deploy units of the National Command of the Bolivarian Militia with the knowledge of the OperationalPeople’s Guard in perfect sync with the Bolivarian Militia Strategic Command [Comando Estratégico Operacional],and the People’s Power in all the districts of the Caracas as revealed by El Universal, chooses to look the other way.Metropolitan Area and the states of Miranda and Vargas, In El Universal’s audio interview there is also convincingwith a large capacity for mobilizing groups loyal to the evidence that the information on voter turnout duringBolivarian Revolution and in connection with the country’s the October 7th elections was shared with governmentpolitical and military leadership. This is proof of electoral authorities, which mobilized the national militia and the8
  9. 9. ELECTION For free, fair, and competitive elections ALERT 2012 VENEZUELAN ELECTIONSterritorial guard to compulsively transfer citizens to polling stations, especiallyindividuals of humble origins who are beneficiaries of government missions.If this goes unprosecuted prior to the upcoming elections on December 16 andthose responsible go unpunished, not only will this modus operandi be repeatedand perfected, but electoral corruption will become official in Venezuela,irreversibly and perilously jeopardizing the country’s immediate future.www.controlciudadano.org“Electoral Favoritism Is A Crime”Summary of the content: On November 12, 2012, under Article 68 of the aforementioned Act and can bepoliticians and leaders of civil society participated in a punishable by one to three years of imprisonment. Heforum called “Protesta y Vota” [“Protest and Vote”], with affirmed that what happened during the presidentialthe aim of promoting citizen involvement in the elections campaign, in other words, the opportunism, the use ofof December 16, 2012. public funds and assets without any kind of restrictions or oversight, among others, was “electoral favoritism” andIn his presentation, the criminal lawyer Alberto Arteaga the perpetrators or participants in these acts should beSánchez stated that since 2003, with the approval of made to answer for them before criminal courts.the Anti-Corruption Act [Ley contra la Corrupción] (LC),electoral favoritism is a crime. Said crime is provided for Analysis: The Basic Law on Suffrage and Political 9
  10. 10. ELECTION For free, fair, and competitive elections ALERT 2012 VENEZUELAN ELECTIONSParticipation [La Ley Orgánica del Sufragio y Participación During a national radio and television “cadena” [“chainPolítica] (LOSPP), repealed by the current Basic Law on broadcast”], shown on Thursday, November 15, 2012, theElectoral Processes [Ley Orgánica de Procesos Electorales] President allowed the candidate from the United Socialist(LOPRE), provided for electoral crimes, misdemeanors Party of Venezuela [Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela]and administrative infractions. Electoral crimes were (PSUV) for the governorship of Miranda state, Elías Jaua, topunishable by terms of imprisonment, while the others do campaigning during the broadcast.entailed financial penalties. Ordinary criminal courtswere charged with taking cognizance of these crimes This opportunistic action infringes the provisions set forthand misdemeanors, while the National Electoral Council under the aforementioned Article 145 of the Constitution,[Consejo Nacional Electoral] (CNE) heard administrative Article 13 of the LC (pursuant to which “public servantsinfractions. and employees are at the service of the State and not of any political or economic group,” and thus “they mayThe LOPRE, enacted by the National Assembly on July not allocate the use of public assets or resources that31, 2009, did not include a chapter on are public property in order toelectoral crimes, as the aforementioned “public servants and favor political projects or parties orLOSPP did. For this reason, these matters particular economic interests.”) andwere to be regulated by a special law, employees are at the the General Regulations of the Basicwhich has yet to be promulgated. In this Law on Electoral Processes, as itregard, Article 229 et seq. make reference service of the State refers to electoral campaigns, whichto electoral infractions, but with regard is why this should be penalized in ato electoral crimes and misdemeanors and not of any political timely manner by the CNE.“that are committed by citizens, vested ornot with public functions, which are not or economic group,” After the electoral experience ofprovided for under this Law,” the LOPRE October 7, 2012, it is imperativestipulates that these shall be the subject that the CNE, the lead agency inof regulation under a special law. the process, take serious measures to prevent abuses of power and guarantee free, fair and democratic elections.Although electoral crimes were not provided for under Experience has shown that the CNE and, in general, thethe current law, other laws do indeed make reference to authorities, have lined up to champion the partisancriminal conduct that can occur during electoral processes. interests of the regime. For this reason, voters must takeThus the LC (Special Official Gazette No. 5.637 [Gaceta on an active role in standing up for electoral conditionsOficial N° 5.637 Extraordinario] of April 7, 2003) stipulates and, report, as provided for under Article 27 of the LOPE,that “public servants who, abusing their office, use their “the commission of any electoral crimes, misdemeanorsposition to electorally favor or prejudice a candidate, or infractions,” and “become a party to the prosecutiongroup, or political party or movement, shall be punished in the proceedings that are instituted as a result of thesewith a term of imprisonment of one (1) to three (3) years.” same violations.”Furthermore, Article 145 of the Constitution provides thatpublic servants are at the service of the State and not anypartisan group. Their appointment and dismissal may notbe decided based on political orientation or affiliation.Both the Constitution, as well as the Law, seeks to preventpublic servants from using their position to favor orprejudice any partisan political option.Nevertheless, in addition to unlimited use of publicresources, the aggressiveness of the campaign, and astrategy of fear mongering, the asymmetry betweenthe party in power and the opposition, as regards theDecember 16th elections, has been strengthened byconduct such as that of the President of the Republic.10
  11. 11. ELECTION For free, fair, and competitive elections ALERT 2012 VENEZUELAN ELECTIONSHearing before the Inter-American Commission on Human RightsFreedom of Expression UnderOngoing Attackvalists Association [Colegio Nacional de Periodistas] (CNP) only 6.5% of the institutions responded adequately to aand Espacio Público participated in a hearing before the request for information.Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on thesituation regarding the right to freedom of expression. Given this lack of response the requesters turned to the courts. Out of eight (8) legal actions, seven (7) cases wereThe principal facts presented, which this article declared “inadmissible” and one (1) is awaiting trial. Thesummarizes, documented some of the challenges society legal protections for rights enshrined in the Constitutionfaces in its work to counter the recurring violations and did not prove effective either.restrictions on freedom of expression in Venezuela. Assaults and Attacks on JournalistsFrom January 1 to October 15, 2012, there were 166 casesinvolving violations of freedom of expression and In Venezuela there is a persistent pattern of increasinginformation, among which 39 were cyber- attacks. These election-related assaults and attacks on the media/cases involve 282 violations of the right to freedom of journalists. In the period studied (01/01/2012 to 10/15/2012)expression and information. These numbers surpass the there were 57 assaults on the media and journalists. Thetotal that occurred for the same period studied in 2011, main targets are journalists and reporters, who make upand even surpass the total number from the 12 months of more than half the victims (99). While covering the newsthe previous year in which there were 139 cases and 224 in the streets, security forces tend to hamper the work ofviolations. reporters, who are assaulted and stripped of their work gear. Likewise, when covering campaign events theyAccess to Public Information risk assault by government or opposition supporters, depending on the media outlet for whom they work.In a study that was conducted in 2011, out of a totalof 61 requests [for information] submitted to public Impunityinstitutions, 85% received no response. Furthermore, 11
  12. 12. ELECTION For free, fair, and competitive elections ALERT 2012 VENEZUELAN ELECTIONSOne enduring feature of these cases of assaults and during electoral processes in which, several officials,attacks on journalists and the media is the failure of the including the president of the republic, are running forState to investigate and punish the responsible parties. elected office.[The press] is consistently discredited by high-rankingofficials and in the National System of Public Media In their conclusions, the organizations asked the IACHR[Sistema Nacional de Medios Públicos] (SNMP). This all to keep a close watch on the situation in Venezuela andhelps to fuel a general attitude of dismissiveness toward to carry out legal scholarly studies on whether the usethese complaints, which serves to discourage the victim, mandatory radio and television “cadenas” is in keepingthereby encouraging impunity. with the content and scope of the obligations stemming from the international instruments of the Inter-American“Cadenas” and Mandatory Radio and Television Human Rights System.Broadcasts http://www.espaciopublico.org/The “cadenas” [“chain broadcasts”] and mandatory radioand televisions broadcasts remain a public policy andconstitute a way to illegitimately restrict the unfettereddissemination of information. These broadcasts arecompletely unregulated, arbitrary, and discretional.From January 1 to October 1, 2012 there were 104“cadenas” in all, for a total of 8460 minutes, whichequals approximately one radio and television “cadena”every three days. They are frequently used for partisanpolitical promotion. In the context of elections, theirrepetition constitutes a government abuse that providesillegitimate advantages for disseminating messages12
  13. 13. ELECTION For free, fair, and competitive elections ALERT 2012 VENEZUELAN ELECTIONS On October 8, journalists from Aragua reported hindrancesNews summaries in accessing sources of official information regarding vulnerabilities in the Lake Valencia, or Lake los Tacarigua,October 16 containment dike (in southern Maracay).The days running up to the presidential elections of http://espaciopublico.org/index.php/noticias/1-libertad-October 7, 2012, saw a pattern of various irregularities on de-expresi/2506-periodistas-de-aragua-denuncian-Venezuelan Internet sites, with both sides of the political obstaculos-en-la-cobertura-de-los-sucesos-del-lago-de-contest suffering cyber-attacks, and election day being valenciamarked by distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks,hacked identities on the Twitter social networking site, On October 8, after having covered the electoral processand the blocking of several websites. in Venezuela, the Argentine reporting team headed by journalist Jorge Lanata was intercepted and detainedhttp://espaciopublico.org/index.php/noticias/1-libertad- by agents of the Bolivarian National Intelligence Servicede-expresi/2502-ataques-informaticos-sacuden-las- (SEBIN). The group was taken to the basement of theredes-sociales-en-el-pais Simón Bolívar International Airport, where they were subjected to intense interrogations for two hours andOctober 11 were stripped of their electronic equipment, for purposes of erasing its contents. http://espaciopublico.org/index.In the morning hours of October 11, 2012, the Supreme php/noticias/1-libertad-de-expresi/2501-detenidos-por-Court of Justice (TSJ) heard the petition to declare the las-fuerzas-de-seguridad-periodistas-internacionales-Presidential decree creating the National Center for despues-de-elecciones-del-7o-Situational Studies [Centro de Estudio Situacional dela Nación] (CESNA) unconstitutional. The petition had October 7been filed by the civic group Espacio Público, the NationalAssociation of Journalists [Colegio Nacional de Periodistas] On Election Day, October 7, the National Electoral Council(CNP), and the National Press Workers Union [Sindicato (CNE) website fell victim to a hacker known as “Hack521,”Nacional de Trabajadores de la Prensa] (SNTP). who carried out a deface attack as a way to expose the “IT weaknesses” affecting the CNE’s Internet site.http://espaciopublico.org/index.php/noticias/1-libertad-de-expresi/2499-hoy-se-realizo-en-el-tsj- http://espaciopublico.org/index.php/noticias/1-libertad-la-audiencia-de-juicio-del-recurso-de-nulidad-por- de-expresi/2497-pirata-informatico-desfigura-la-pagina-inconstitucionalidad-contra-el-cesna web-del-cne-October 10 A Plan República official attacked Demetrio Caraindro, a graphic reporter for Correo del Caroní, while the latterOn Wednesday, October 10, 2012, Nelson Urbina, municipal was covering the close of polling stations in the El Olivocouncilman for Carirubana in the state of Falcón, was neighborhood of Puerto Ordaz, state of Bolívar, on Octobersentenced to three years of prison for ongoing defamation 7,2012..http://espaciopublico.org/index.php/noticias/1-and libel against the mayor of the municipality of Alcides libertad-de-expresi/2495-reportero-grafico-del-correo-Goitía, for having published accusations of offenses in his del-caroni-agredido-durante-cobertura-electoralweekly column in the daily newspaper La Mañana. The Noticiero Digital website was blocked by Cantv’s Abahttp://espaciopublico.org/index.php/noticias/1- service as of 2pm and could be accessed only from proxylibertad-de-expresi/2498-concejal-del-estado-falcon- servers and from abroad. Information on this situationsentenciado-a-tres-anos-de-prision-por-difamacion-e- was posted on its Twitter profile, @NDtitulares.injuria- http://espaciopublico.org/index.php/noticias/1-libertad-October 8 de-expresi/2494-noticiero-digital-bloqueado-por-cantv 13
  14. 14. ELECTION For free, fair, and competitive elections ALERT 2012 VENEZUELAN ELECTIONS Plan República forces prevented the reporting team from http://espaciopublico.org/index.php/noticias/1-libertad- Nueva Prensa de Guayana from gaining access to the de-expresi/2487-mesa-de-la-unidad-democratica- polling stations in Unare parish, state of Bolívar, during denuncia-perfil-falso-mudemocratica the elections held Sunday, October 7, 2012. October 3 http://espaciopublico.org/index.php/noticias/1-libertad- de-expresi/2493-plan-republica-impide-al-diario-nueva- On October 3, 2012, Bolivarian National Intelligence prensa-de-guayana-acceder-a-centros-de-votacion-en- Service (SEBIN) officials detained the Argentine journalist unare Jorge Lanata for one hour, as he was entering the country. He believes that the security services were sending him a On Sunday morning, October 7, while engaging in news “message.” coverage of the events taking place at the Siembra polling station, in the Kennedy neighborhood in Macarao parish, http://espaciopublico.org/index.php/noticias/1-libertad- the Últimas Noticias team was attacked by persons who de-expresi/2485-periodistas-internacionales-denuncian- identified themselves as “community communicators.” irregularidades-en-llegada-a-venezuela-por-comicios- electorales http://espaciopublico.org/index.php/noticias/1- libertad-de-expresi/2492-equipo-de-ultimas-noticias- October 2 fue-atacado-durante-cobertura-informativa-en-la- urbanizacion-kennedy On October 2, 2012, the Second Administrative Law Court handed down a decision establishing that the Scientific, October 5 Penal and Criminal Investigation Corps [Cuerpo de Investigaciones Científicas, Penales y Criminalísticas] The headquarters of the daily newspaper Nuevo Día in (CICPC) is not the competent agency to provide Coro was attacked with an explosive device on Friday, information to citizens relating to crime statistics in October 5, at approximately 7 p.m., resulting in the injury Venezuela, despite the fact that Article 11 of the CICPC of a passer-by who was close to the building at the time. Law sets forth that the agency is competent to have such http://espaciopublico.org/index.php/noticias/1-libertad- information. de-expresi/2490-atacan-con-explosivo-sede-del-diario- nuevo-dia-en-coro http://espaciopublico.org/index .php/noticias/1 - libertad-de-expresi/2500-tribunal-niega-acceso-a-la- October 4 informacion-en-materia-de-criminalidad-en-venezuela On October 4, the Deputy Executive Secretary of the Mesa de la Unidad Democrática (MUD) coalition, Ramón José Medina, alerted users of the social network Twitter to the presence of a profile that was sending distorted messages under the name @MUDemocratica, pretending to belong to the organization he represents.14

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