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Venezuela: Who is afraid of the big bad REP audit?

By Miguel Octavio

14.06.06 | You really have to wonder how the revolution is capable of finding such cynical and unethical people to do Chavez’ dirty work. The recent charade with the Electoral Registry (REP) shows an incredible ability to lie, cheat, act, and connive by the members of the Electoral Board who have tried to give the impression of business as usual with regards to the audit of the Registry, but have at every step revealed their sheer fear that anyone will be able to study and analyze the registry with any form of technical testing. Why are they so afraid?

Clearly if they are so scared, it must mean that the key to the earlier fraud is in the registry, otherwise why protect with such intensity any possible examination of the electoral registry data?

When Central University (UCV), Simon Bolivar University (USB) and the Catholic University (UCAB) proposed the audit earlier in the year, they did what any technical group facing a problem would do: look for the experts within their departments. Within UCV and USB they found statistical and database experts that could structure the mathematical aspects of the audit, from the Catholic University they got the experts on demographics.

In fact, today Tal Cual published a table showing the structure of the academic team proposed by those three universities and it is indeed quite impressive. From UCV you have two Ph.D.’s in Math, one in Statistics, the other one the winner of the Polar Award, one of the most prestigious ones in Venezuelan Science. Then, there is a Ph.D. in computer science who is an expert in databases and a Ph.D. in parallel and distributed systems. There is also a support group with technical people.

From USB the leaders are a Ph.D. in numerical analysis from CalTech accompanied by Ph.D.‘s in Statistics, a Ph.D. in environmental and climatological statistics and a person with a Masters degree in complex data and databases. From the Computer Science Department they have a Ph.D. in databases.

From UCAB, they got the Department of Demographic Studies, led by a Sociologist, together with someone with a Masters degree in Demographics, a specialist in Data Analysis and a sociologist who works on information systems.

In the face of this team and their proposal, the CNE had to find a way to short circuit the audit. To do this, they first selected the six experimental universities to join the audit. Now, despite what MVR and Government big mouth William Lara may say, these universities do only not measure up to USB and UCV in terms of academic excellence, but simply they do not have the expertise in any of their departments to field a team in the areas covered by USB and UCV. Moreover, not one of them has a department specialized in demographics.

Now, the CNE and MVR are so perverse, that in order to cover up the lack of excellence in their team, they included IVIC, the premier research institution in Venezuela. IVIC does have a Math Department, but nobody from it was included, and it has no engineering or computer science department. In fact, my sources indicate that the IVIC team was handpicked by the CNE itself, its representative showing up at the Director’s office with a list of names which included four anthropologists, two sociologists from the History of Science Department, two Physicists and a computer science person. Of these, only two anthropologists and one Sociologist have Ph.D.’s but their area of expertise is far form that required to analyze the REP in any form. In fact, the “official” position is that the CNE already had experts in databases and the like, so it was looking for people in the social sciences. The problem is that IVIC is 90% plus natural sciences, so it made no sense to go there looking for these experts. Except that IVIC is controlled by the Government... Get the picture?

Once the team of nine universities and IVIC was assembled the discussion began on how to do the audit. Of course, it was democratic so that each time a topic came up for discussion, it was voted by the full group, typically seven to three as perversely designed by the CNE. In fact, Dr. Ricardo Rios from UCV, says in today’s Tal Cual, that the computer coordinator for the CNE, Leonardo Hernandez, was truly biased against their proposals and despite not being part of the teams designated for the audit, was present at all meetings and was key in blocking any possible agreement among the participants, going as far as calling the technical people to tell them to take a particular position. Of course, CNE Directors claim it is the three universities that are biased.

After that, it is very easy for the cynical members of the CNE Board to question the three universities that made the original proposal for the audit. Question their motives. Their intentions. Their bias. Suggest they are somehow damaging the non-existent academic reputation of their peers at the experimental universities. Or as CNE Director German Yepez cynically said, the audit is already ongoing, so it is impossible for these universities to join it now. We know, it was all perversely planned this way.

Of course, they were never meant to join anything; they were duped into believing that they would in order to give the appearance of transparency and fairness. But clearly, all this effort proves, once again, is that there is something fraudulent and dirty and perverse in the electoral registry that needs to be protected at all costs. Protecting it is essential to the fraudulent reelection of Hugo Chavez to the Presidency of Venezuela in Decemebr.

Otherwise, why bother? One can ask: Who is afraid of the big bad REP audit?

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