[News] Venezuela: Nearly 50,000 Voting Machines Burnt in ‘Terrorist Attack’

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Tue Mar 10 13:18:20 EDT 2020


https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/14807


  Venezuela: Nearly 50,000 Voting Machines Burnt in ‘Terrorist Attack’

By Paul Dobson - March 9, 2020
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Mérida, March 9, 2020 (venezuelanalysis.com 
<http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/>) – An unknown militant group has 
claimed responsibility for a blaze which destroyed 99 percent of 
Venezuela’s electoral machines on Saturday.

In a video message 
<https://twitter.com/BrennerABarrios/status/1236522915736309761> 
published on Twitter on Sunday, seven masked men calling themselves the 
Venezuelan Patriotic Front stated that the attack formed part of 
“Operation Sodom,” a reference to thebiblical tale 
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sodom_and_Gomorrah> of the city destroyed 
by “divine judgement” on the Jordan River.

The group goes on to justify the arson by alleging that electoral 
authorities have “violated the people’s rights through fraudulent 
elections.” In the same message, it also claimed responsibility for a 
fire last month at a state-run CANTV telecommunications center used in 
elections in Valencia, Carabobo State.

While the origins and connections of the group remain unclear, its video 
message pledged further actions against government supporters and 
leaders, which it defined as being “military targets,” as well as 
issuing warnings about “what may occur” at the upcoming opposition march 
on Tuesday.

Speaking Monday, National Constituent Assembly President Diosdado 
Cabello condemned the fire as a “terrorist attack.” Opposition leaders 
are yet to comment.

Another hard-right militant opposition group called the T-Shirt Soldiers 
endorsed the Patriotic Front’s actions and claimed they “were not 
finished.” The T-Shirt Soldiers claimed responsibility for the August 
2018 C4-carrying drone assassination attempt against President Maduro 
<https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/13976>.

According to the National Electoral Council (CNE), a massive fire on 
Saturday at the storage facility in the Filas de Mariche district on the 
outskirts of Caracas destroyed 49,408 electronic voting machines, 582 
computers, 400 electronic ballot cards, 49,232 fingerprint 
identification machines and 22,434 power inverters. Only 562 voting 
machines and 724 fingerprint identification machines could be saved. All 
voting machines and other instruments are kept at the warehouse under 
military and civilian supervision between electoral processes.

The blaze caused no human injuries, but devastated the 1500 m2 facility, 
according to the reports of the 570 firefighters who tackled the fire.

Addressing the press on Sunday, CNE President Tibisay Lucena told the 
country that two national prosecutors have been assigned to investigate 
the fire, and that “no hypotheses have been ruled out.”

    #9Mar
    <https://twitter.com/hashtag/9Mar?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw> Mas
    de 500 efectivos de nuestros Organismos de Seguridad Ciudadana y del
    Cuerpo de @bomberos_dc
    <https://twitter.com/bomberos_dc?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw> y @PCivil_Ve
    <https://twitter.com/PCivil_Ve?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw> se encuentran
    desplegados atendiendo el incendio en su fase libre de combustión en
    un galpón aproximadamente de 1500M2 perteneciente al Consejo
    Nacional Electoral. pic.twitter.com/Am0Goj9pVH <https://t.co/Am0Goj9pVH>

    — Bomberos DC (@bomberos_dc) March 9, 2020
    <https://twitter.com/bomberos_dc/status/1236998935564222466?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw>

The voting machines were originally produced by the multinational 
company Smartmatic. The CNE ended a maintenance and repair contract with 
the company in 2017 following its “baseless”claims 
<https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/13279> of fraud at the July 2017 
National Constituent Assembly elections. The electoral body has not 
updated its machine stockpile since nor signed a new manufacturing 
contract, and a wide-reachingUS embargo 
<https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/14615> announced in 2018 threatens 
any foreign firm which engages with the organisation with sanctions.

The CNE has overseen 24 electoral contests since 1998, with National 
Assembly (AN) elections scheduled for 2020, with a date yet to be set. 
Lucena also took the opportunity to calm fears that this year’s 
elections would be affected.

“If there are small groups which think that this will end our 
constitutionally established electoral processes, they are very wrong,” 
she said. “We have the capacity, the legal know-how, the operative and 
logistical technology, 17 years of experience, and the human talent [to] 
guarantee the electoral processes in Venezuela as we know them: fast, 
transparent and trustworthy,” she went on.

Venezuela’s combined electronic and paper electoral system has 
beendescribed <https://venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/13849> as one of 
the most secure and transparent in the world by independentinternational 
observers <https://venezuelanalysis.com/video/13878>. Nonetheless, 
discussions aimed at applying further consensual safeguards, as well as 
renovating the CNE leadership, have been part of a dialogue 
<https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/14657> agenda between the government 
and a host of smaller opposition parties.

The efforts were boosted after a dissident opposition group wrested 
control of the National Assembly 
<https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/14755> from former AN President Juan 
Guaido in January and backed the ongoing dialogue process as well as the 
renewal of electoral authorities.

Guaido has already ruled out taking his hard-right Popular Will party to 
the vote later this year, a position which has been backed by 
Washington. Other Guaido-aligned opposition parties, however, are still 
to announce whether they will participate, with Democratic Action party 
hinting that it will.

-- 
Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 https://freedomarchives.org/
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