[News] In Venezuela's Upcoming Election, US Seeks Observers it Can Influence

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Dec 3 15:16:56 EST 2015

  In Venezuela's Upcoming Election, U.S. Seeks Observers it Can Influence

Posted: 11/18/2015

In Washington, it's just seen as the way the world works. Just as big 
fish eat little fish and lions prey on antelope, so there is no moral 
shame in the U.S. government trying to undermine, destabilize or get rid 
of democratically elected governments that it doesn't like.

So it is no surprise that the multi-pronged effort to delegitimize the 
for Venezuela's National Assembly, scheduled for Dec. 6, would be 
reported and widely accepted here without question as merely trying to 
insure "credible observation <http://go.shr.lc/1Lj9dZw>" for the 
election. The "credible observers," who are being portrayed as the sine 
qua non of a "credible result" is the Organization of American States.

To see how absurd this assumption is, we need only look back a few 
years, when the OAS appointed an "Expert Verification Mission 
<http://scm.oas.org/pdfs/2011/CP25512E.pdf>" to examine the presidential 
election in Haiti. This mission did something outrageous, something that 
has never been done -- before or since -- in the history of electoral 
monitoring: It reversed 
<http://www.cepr.net/publications/reports/oas-in-haiti> the result of 
the first round of voting, without conducting a recount or even a 
statistical test. Normally, when an election result is disputed, there 
is a recount or the result is accepted or a new election can be held. 
Nowhere does an electoral monitoring team simply pick a new winner.

    There are many examples of the U.S. manipulating the OAS machinery.

In Feb. 2011, I was on a panel with Fritz Scheuren, then the lead 
statistician of the OAS mission, which was carefully chosen so that six 
of seven members were from the U.S., Canada and France (yes, France was 
included, even though geographers claim that it's not part of the 
Western Hemisphere). A former president of the American Statistical 
Association, he acknowledged 
that the OAS mission used no statistical inference to draw conclusions 
from the 8 percent of tally sheets that they examined. Statistical tests 
conducted by CEPR, including a comprehensive set of simulations for 
missing votes, confirmed 
<http://www.cepr.net/publications/reports/oas-in-haiti> that there was 
no statistical basis for the mission's reversal of the voting results.

The political reasons became more obvious when Haiti's government, 
understandably, balked at accepting the OAS decision. With the country 
still devastated from the 2010 earthquake, U.S. Ambassador to the United 
Nations Susan Rice threatened <http://usun.state.gov/remarks/4959> Haiti 
with a cut-off of desperately needed aid if they did not accept the OAS 
Mission's reversal of election results. Michel Martelly, Washington's 
preferred candidate, was then moved up and into the second round and 
became president, where he remains today.

It seems unlikely that the OAS could get away with something like this 
in Venezuela. But it can contribute to destabilization efforts. In 2013, 
the Venezuelan opposition took to the streets with violent protests, 
claiming fraud in the presidential election. There was no basis 
for their claims of fraud: A statistical test of the election audit 
showed that the probability of getting the official result if the 
election were in fact stolen through fraud was less than one in 25,000 

This high level of certainty was possible because of Venezuela's dual 
voting system, where voters press a touch screen computer and then 
receive a printout of their vote. The voter then looks at the printout 
and deposits it in the ballot box. When the polls close, a random audit 
of 54 percent of the machines is conducted, in which the machine tally 
is compared with the paper ballots in the presence of witnesses from all 
parties. The microscopically small probability of fraud, despite the 
fact that in this case President Maduro won by a margin of 1.6 
percentage points, is a result of the enormous random sample size, as 
any student of introductory statistics can verify.

Yet there were three international voices in 2013 that joined with the 
opposition and refused to recognize the results, demanding 
a "full recount": the U.S. government, the right-wing government of 
and -- tellingly -- the head of the OAS at that time, José Miguel 
Insulza. Although the U.S. has suffered humiliating defeats 
in trying to win votes against Venezuela at the OAS, Washington still 
about a third of the organization's overall budget, and of course it has 
other levers of power against individual governments and their 
representatives. There are therefore many examples of it manipulating 
the OAS machinery. That is why Latin American governments in 2010 formed 
the Community of Latin American and Caribbean Nations 
<http://www.celacinternational.org/>, which includes all governments in 
the hemisphere except the U.S. and Canada.

    The media is reminiscent of the McCarthy era of the 1950s: dissent
    is absent, even from reports that might normally include a
    contrarian opinion as a matter of journalistic balance.

For all of these reasons and many more, any government that has been a 
major U.S. target for regime change for more than a decade would have 
reason to be wary of OAS observers. Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, 
the U.S. and Canada are among the countries that have not been 
interested in having the OAS observe their elections. Playing on the 
public's lack of knowledge of recent history, almost every source for 
the major media is pretending that the OAS is just a neutral and 
necessary institutional guarantee against fraud. The International 
Crisis Group 
Human Rights Watch 
and the Brookings Institution 
have all piled on. And why wouldn't they? The pretense of disinterested 
observer, not beholden to the powers and dictates of empire, is the same 
on which their own identity is established. But many of these players 
have a particularly sketchy track record 
on Venezuela over the past decade. The media, for its part, is 
reminiscent of the McCarthy era of the 1950s: dissent is absent, even 
from reports that might normally include a contrarian opinion as a 
matter of journalistic balance.

The last decade in Venezuela has seen a series of failed efforts to 
negate election results there (a brief review of some of the more 
audacious scams, with links, can be found here 
They include bogus statistical studies by U.S. academics (2004), 
fabricated polls by prominent U.S. pollsters (2004 and 2006), a 2005 
opposition boycott of parliamentary elections and the 2013 efforts 
described above. And that's not to mention attempted military coups 
The opposition has never won a national election in Venezuela since Hugo 
Chavez was first elected in 1998. This time they think they might win, 
and they have polls to support that assertion. However, a lot depends on 
turnout, which has been their weakness in non-presidential elections; 
and there is a big political difference between getting, for example, a 
simple majority or two-thirds of the assembly.

Hence the pre-emptive strike to discredit the elections: If they do 
worse than they expect to do, they will claim fraud. And the hardliners, 
at least, will continue on their extra-constitutional path towards 
regime change. This has been -- with U.S. support -- plan B (and 
sometimes plan A) for most of the past 16 years, despite the fact that 
there has not been a shred of credible evidence of electoral fraud 
during that entire period.

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863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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