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Bloggers get the scoop on Venezuela's disputed election

Robert Mayer for Pajamas Media

Photo by Miguel Octavio

Monday, December 5, 2005 | Venezuelan bloggers are buzzing over the widely boycotted Dec. 4 election of 167 deputies to the country’s parliament, particularly over an internal audit of the Smartmatic voting machines that can reveal a voter’s identity and voting choices. Writing for VCRISIS, Olga K details the Smartmatic revelation and explains how the Chávez government failed to see it coming and Aleksander Boyd explains why the opposition chose to boycott. Daniel Duquenal, in the provinces, offers meticulous analysis of pervading electoral fraud and Gustavo Coronel decries the legitimacy that international observers are giving the government.

When voting started in the country, bloggers once again picked up the slack for the mainstream media after the five main opposition parties withdrew from the race and called on voters to stay home. A.M. Mora y Leon at Publius Pundit traveled around Caracas and witnessed only empty polling stations, saying, “We went to about 15 stations and saw about four voters at one station in West Caracas and another four at another station nearby. ... The only place where we found a line of voters was just outside Chávez´s presidential palace where some troops were standing in line to vote. They had been told: Vote, Or Else.” Miguel Octavio from The Devil’s Excrement took photos of the troops – and no one else – voting. He notes that Deputy Iris Varela threatened public workers with firing if they did not vote. Daniel Duquenal liveblogged with news on the ground all day long.

Aleksander Boyd reports that soldiers prevented his brother-in-law from photographing an empty station, while prominent democracy NGO Sumate released a statement calling on voters to abstain and instead attend church. Blogger PMBComments says this is exactly what happened.

The Chávez government confirmed blogger suspicions, saying that 75% of registered voters stayed away from the polls on Sunday. Miguel Octavio calls it “disastrous” for Chávez. Daniel Duquenal liveblogs the government’s announcement of the results, and Miguel Octavio notes that the Interior Minister has very low expectations.

Nevertheless, the elections gave Chávez the 2/3 majority he needs to change to constitution at will. Aleksander Boyd has already declared: “RIP Venezuela’s democracy.” The blogger from mirá, mirá, tengo internet sarcastically declares, “Welcome to the new, ultra-democratic Venezuela. Enjoy the ride." Daniel Duquenal believes the abstention number is much higher, and is both afraid and hopeful for his country.

Some bloggers are incensed about media coverage of elections in their country, especially The New York Times piece by Juan Forero, and Alex Beech takes on Forero for faulty political analysis

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