jueves, 4 de abril de 2013

Foreign politicians drawn into Venezuelan polls, minister calls Paraguay's leader scum

The candidates in Venezuela's 14 April presidential elections have begun to use some blunt talk that may yet become ruder even than words traded in the 2012 campaign between Henrique Capriles and Hugo Chávez. Rudeness was also evident in Venezuelan reactions to foreign politicians' recent comments about Venezuela and its leaders. On 4 April Venezuela's Foreign Minister said he was "obliged to respond" to comments made about Chávez by Paraguay's President Federico Franco, qualifying Franco as "human and political scum." Speaking on TeleSur, Jaua contrasted the late president's "moral and human stature" with "the human and political scum President Franco signifies," but regretted that Franco "is not the last human and political scum who will be able to offend and attack the memory of that historical giant," Europa Press reported. The two states have minimal ties, and Franco recently called Chávez's death a miracle. Another conservative critic of Venezuela was the former Colombian president Álvaro Uribe Vélez, who has several times accused Venezuela of backing Colombia's two communist guerrilla armies. He wrote on the website Twitter on 30 March that Venezuela's President Nicolás Maduro had "raised the tone" by calling his opponents the "heirs of Adolf Hitler" and there was "no limit" to his cynicism; Maduro replied on Uribe's account, asking him if he should have called them "your heirs." Uribe then wrote that Maduro's "partners" - Colombia's communist FARC guerrillas - chain "hostages to wire fences like Hitler," Bogotá's Radio Santa Fe reported on 31 March. Foreign Minister Jaua praised Maduro's response to the "genocidal" Uribe, the website Noticia al Dia reported. Brazil's former president Luis Inacio Lula da Silva separately upset the Venezuelan opposition after stating support  for Maduro on 3 April. Lula told a Uruguayan daily that while not as charismatic as Chávez, Maduro was "an extraordinary human being...who I think is totally prepared" to govern as his predecessor, Globovisión reported. "I think he will win the elections and will govern," Lula said. The Venezuelan parliamentarian Maria Corina Machado called his "rude intervention" the next day "grotesque and unacceptable," and said Lula had become Maduro's "salesman" and "electoral agent." Machado is the foreign affairs spokeswoman on the Capriles election team. His comments Machado said, did not so much befit a former statesman as "a merchant." She said "someone who is unaware of the reality of our country and ignores the problems Venezuelans have to deal with every day has no right to state opinions. We wonder if Maduro has spoken to Lula of the dead taken to the morgues every day, the product of [crime] violence, under the complicit gaze of this government," Globovisión reported on 4 April. Venezuela's opposition has repeatedly accused the regime of neglecting the problem of crime.

Venezuelan opposition fears regime allies may "sabotage" vote machines

A member of the opposition election team in Venezuela claimed on 3 April that one or perhaps more members of the Unified Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) backing Acting President Nicolás Maduro's presidential election on 14 April, could "sabotage" vote machines for having an access code, though apparently results could not be changed with that code. This was apparently the "grave" matter the opposition candidate Henrique Capriles had earlier said he would divulge. Ramón Guillermo Aveledo, coordinator of the Simón Bolivar Commando (Comando Simón Bolívar) backing Capriles said opposition technicians noted during an inspection on 30 March that a technician of the PSUV was "able to activate a voting machine as he was in possession of the code" needed to start or run the system, Globovisión reported. "This key cannot be in the hands of political organizations," he told a press conference in Caracas, adding however that the code did not allow its holder to access voters' identities or change results. It could "affect the functioning of the machines...it can sabotage the equipment and make it defective," he said. The head of the National Electoral Council (CNE) Sandra Oblitas replied on state television on 4 April that the election process in Venezuela was "absolutely inviolable, invulnerable and incorruptible," and warned "one must be cautious about observations made and their tone...those who made these observations were obliged to recognize the system's security," the official AVN news agency reported. She said technicians of the political parties checked the system "daily." It was not immediately clear if international observers would be watching the elections. On 3 April the head of the Organization of American States (OEA) José Miguel Insulza said the Venezuelan government had "unfortunately" not invited the OEA as observers. He told Spain's EFE in Madrid that while the quality of elections had improved in Latin America, Venezuela was among cases where the state apparatus was used to favour "a particular candidate." "The problem will not be on voting day...my concern is not over fraud if one may use that word, the concern is that a government and the opposition are not talking. There is no political dialogue" he said, or "relationship between political forces."