Chronicle of a foretold media manipulation
Chronicle of a
foretold media manipulation
Dr. Alexa Weber
the new constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela proposed by the
newly elected government and approved by an electoral majority, two new options
were created for popular democratic participation: the Advisory Referendum and a
Advisory Referendum, as its name indicates, consults citizens about matters of
public interest. The Recall Referendum is a legal instrument whereby the
population can revoke the mandate of elected officials such as the president,
governors, assembly members and mayors. The law states that the Recall
Referendum can be initiated midway through the term of the elected official. It
also requires a specific number of signatures to initiate it depending on the
number of votes received during the election.
then the responsibility of the National Electoral Council (CNE), the legal
entity in charge of collecting, analyzing and accepting the signatures, to
determine the validity of a possible recall.
all this began, the opposition in Venezuela, which held power for more than
forty years and plunged the country into a cycle of immense corruption and
poverty, had the silent complicity of the privately-held media.
media or “war machine,” as described by Le Monde International, initiated a
campaign to fool their followers at the beginning of 2002. The campaign was
centered around a “FIRMAZO” (massive collection of signatures) for an Advisory
where the trap set: First, they are not halfway through the presidential term as
the law stipulates. And secondly, as a private entity (which is what they
attempted to employ in this ploy), they were not legally allowed to collect
signatures for that purpose.
Finally, the Advisory Referendum was never meant to revoke a mandate.
a private company called Sumate (the name translates to join us), paid for by
Washington, the opposition began to collect signatures. The problem was that
results were a lower number of signatures than they had expected. They then
concluded that they did not have enough followers forcing them to change
tactics. The reality is that they were simply testing the waters to see how many
people they could induce with their “war machine propaganda.” Having failed,
they began conspiring and planning their coupe d’etat.
Accustomed to a history of inefficiency and mediocrity, their coup of April 2002
lasted barely 48 hours. Their undoing was the fact that they did not have the
army or the people on their side. Millions of Venezuelans hit the streets
demanding that their vote be respected and therefore the immediate return of
their elected leader President Hugo Chavez Frias. As a result, and at this
point, the opposition ends up losing some of their leaders who run for asylum to
other countries; also losing some of their democratic followers at home.
this out of the picture, the media intensifies its aggressive campaign calling
for a general strike that was short of being general, and failed miserably. At
the same time, remaining leaders of the opposition asked publicly the people not
to pay taxes. This is then followed by a ruling from the Venezuelan courts
issuing a warrant for the arrest of those who refuse to pay taxes. Immediately,
and contrary to promises made to supporters, those ‘leaders’ escape to
to avoid prosecution.
it is 2003 and the aggressive media campaign continues. The opposition at this
time has to start justifying the money received from the U.S. They begin
talking of the ‘Reafirmazo’ (another massive campaign to collect signatures) for
a Recall Referendum. The problem – again – is that a private company, Sumate,
is illegally collecting the signatures and it is still not yet the presidential
Obviously the CNE rejects the illegal signatures and the opposition runs to the
friendly privately-owned media to claim that the government does not want to
accept the signatures and that the President fears a recall. Manipulation!
weeks later, at the midterm and as established by the law, the CNE calls for the
collection of signatures for a Recall Referendum as requested by the opposition.
The opposition knows for a fact that they don’t have enough followers so they
prepare what we will term a “mega-fraud.” They sign-up dead people, minors,
foreigners, and even clones (persons who sign multiple times in different
districts). What they seem to overlook is that to conduct a mega-fraud you need
mega-fools and they are not too many of those left.
CNE validates 1.8 million signatures (they needed close to 2.5 million). Six
hundred sixty thousand signatures were annulled outright, since 66,000 forms
(with 10 signatures per form) were stolen and then appeared with signatures of
the miraculously resurrected. The CNE also sends an additional 800,000
signatures for “repair” because of dubious signatures or fingerprints.
Repairing signatures is a procedure whereby the CNE publishes the list of names
and signatures of dubious origin all over the country so that people are given
the opportunity to make corrections and validate whether they have signed or
can imagine, the opposition does not favor the repair opportunity since their
miracle of ‘resurrection’ will be difficult to reproduce. By then they start
dilatory tactics while crying foul to the rest of the world accusing the CNE of
not recognizing all of the signatures. This is a futile attempt to disqualify
opposition then contacts a judge, a supposedly corrupt dinosaur from the past,
and seeks to overrule the CNE decision. And without even looking at the
signatures, the judge rules that they be accepted and moves for a referendum.
Another panel of judges of the electoral court decries this decision taken
without a quorum and requests that the constitutional court review it. The
constitutional court then rejects and throws out the decision of the judge and
reinstates the authority of the CNE.
summarize, what the opposition is trying stall for time, thereby creating a
conflict between the courts, and upholding the signatures of the dead. But, to
their distaste the opposition in Venezuela is not advancing, they are simply
moving in concentric circles, stagnating and confusing their followers, and
lying to the world.
Haven’t they seen what happened during the elections in Spain? Haven’t they seen
what happens when their leaders don’t deal with their people honestly?
meantime, the government has grown stronger with programs that offer much needed
help to the people who in return these voice of the poor are letting it be known
to the opposition: “No Volveran!” (You will never return!)
G. Weber is a Venezuelan that lives in South Florida. She has a PhD. in
psychology. She also has a Master’s Degree in public health from Harvard
University. And is also an odontologist with a post graduate degree in dental
prosthesis from Harvard.