[News] Venezuela: Do you REALLY think the referendum will be the peaceful resolution?

News at freedomarchives.org News at freedomarchives.org
Tue Jul 20 11:46:02 EDT 2004

Elio Cequea: Do you REALLY think the referendum will be the peaceful 


VHeadline.com commentarist Elio Cequea writes: An Open Letter to US 
Congressmen Henry Hyde, Tom Lantos, Doug Bereuter and Robert Menendez:

House of Representatives

Henry Hyde, Chairman
Committee on International Relations

Tom Lantos, Ranking Democratic Member
Committee on International Relations

Doug Bereuter, Chairman
Subcommittee on Europe

Robert Menendez
Ranking Democratic Member
Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere

Dear Sirs: I am writing to you with regard to 
<http://www.vheadline.com/graf/lettersumate.pdf>a letter signed by each one 
of you that was directed to the President of the Bolivarian Republic of 
Venezuela, Hugo Chavez Frias. In that letter you communicate to the 
President your "serious" concerns about the actions taken against Sumate, 
an organization you refer to as "a Venezuelan civic organization."

The leaders of Sumate have indeed been charged with conspiracy.

It is my opinion that the accusation against this Venezuelan NGO is more 
than justified. The same opinion is shared not only by the government but 
also by many other Venezuelan citizens. If you let me borrow few minutes of 
your time, I can bring some light to this issue by showing you "the other 
side of the coin."
    * I sincerely hope that for the sake of the political stability of my 
country, my words help you to have a more objective and less partisan 

The influence of the US in Venezuela is enormous and the unconditional 
support being offered to the opposition is not helping to bring the 
situation to a truly happy and democratic ending.

There are some facts about Sumate that I expect you do not know:

As an organization that was born to promote democracy in Venezuela, Sumate 
has done so ONLY with the opposition. They have encouraged political 
participation only among opposition sympathizers. Since its creation, 
Sumate has been acting more like a pro-opposition political party rather 
than an NGO. This is why its relationship with the US's National Endowment 
for Democracy (NED) is illegal.

To put it into words you would perhaps understand better, imagine the US 
GOP receiving money for the November Presidential campaign from a foreign 
government, company or organization. Do I need to explain more?

Maria Corina Machado is the more visible and active of the leaders of 
Sumate. During the April 2002 coup d'etat, she was among the many who 
signed the document supporting "Dictator for a day" Pedro Carmona Estanga.

Then, she turned pro-democracy and helped to create Sumate?

Change of heart?  I do not think so.

Sumate was one of the main protagonists during the signature collection 
rally that resulted in a Presidential recall referendum. They did 
promotions, training and actively participated in the organization and 
execution of the collection of signatures. They were the keepers of the 
signatures until they were turned in to the electoral authorities. They 
were in charged of counting and verifying the number of signatures for the 

Some of the facts are as follows:

Sometime during the week after the signatures were collected, a 
conversation between two prominent members of the opposition took place. In 
that conversation, one said to the other that he had been to an urgent 
meeting were Sumate had said that only 1.9 million signatures had been 
collected. None of the participants in this secretly taped conversation 
denies that the conversation took place. Keep in mind that at least 2.4 
million signatures were needed to call for a referendum.

Three weeks later, Sumate "officially" submitted to the electoral 
authorities the quantity of 3.4 million signatures. This quantity had 
Sumate's seal of approval. To make a long story short, more than 300,000 
signatures were invalidated right away for reasons such as being signatures 
of minors, foreigners and unregistered voters among others. Sumate accepted 
the signatures were invalid but insisted that, in any case, there were 
enough left to call for a referendum.

Then, more than 11,000 signatures were deducted from the final total number 
because they were proven to be signatures of dead people.  I would not call 
this a conspiracy. This is rather a clear intent on the part of Sumate to 
commit fraud. I can prove to you all the facts I have mentioned and you can 
make your own conclusions. They are common knowledge and all of them were 
reported on the national and international press one way or another.

If after all of this you still insist that the charges against the leaders 
of Sumate are unfounded, you will then probably be among the people 
outraged if they are found guilty.  I can already see you voting to support 
an immediate invasion to Venezuela to "defend and protect democracy and 
human rights."

That seems to be in vogue in Washington D.C. nowadays, with or without WMDs!

There are some other things mentioned in your letter that are worth note. 
In the May 29, 2003 agreement, it was the opposition that finally agreed to 
follow the terms of the 1999 Constitution ... but only after a coup attempt 
and a civic strike that almost ruined the country. Your defense of the 
"pro-democratic" work of the NED in Venezuela sounds like wishful thinking.
    * The truth is that only pro-opposition organizations have received 
money from the NED and most of them, if not all, supported the coup and the 
strike. Is that a coincidence?

You probably know the inside scoop.

Do you really think that the referendum will be the peaceful resolution to 
the political impasse afflicting Venezuela?


What if Chavez is the winner?

Would you accept that as being the end of the conflict?

These are really difficult questions to answer for opposition leaders and 
their followers.

In your letter you commended the President for "allowing" the recall 
referendum, but, with all due respect, Sirs, the referendum is going to 
happen because according to the electoral authorities (fraud or not) there 
are sufficient signatures to call for one under the 1999 Constitution.

You should commend the President for "respecting" and "following" that 
Constitution ... but then, that will change that label of "Dictator" that 
the press has placed upon his back. You do not want to do that.  Dictators 
"allow," they do not "respect." You are just playing with the words.

With regards to Sumate ... a judge found enough reasons to press charges 
... a court of law will decide their fate.

As he has done on other occasions, the President will "respect" the outcome 
... whatever the verdict and it is actually disrespectful on your part to 
urge him to violate the law and influence the courts to "reconsider" their 

On top of that, you want Sumate and its leaders to be able to continue to 
work "consistently with the constitutional process and the Venezuelan 
laws."  As if they have done that all along, which they have not!

Sometimes, I am amazed about the amount of contradictions that are found in 
the Venezuelan opposition ... it seems to be a virus that infects all of 
those who get close to them. You obviously are not immune.

I beg your pardon me if I sound upset. To tell you the truth, I am.

I do not want at some juncture in the future, to see President George W. 
Bush explaining to his nation that the invasion of Venezuela and the 
subsequent killing of thousands of its innocent citizens was somehow 
justified because Chavez "intended" to violate somebody's human rights.

Elio Cequea
<mailto:Elio at vheadline.com>Elio at vheadline.com
A Venezuelan citizen

The Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 863-9977
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