Where were you seven years ago?

August 15th, 2004. The day of the failed Recall Referendum against Hugo Chavez.

For months we planned, we signed, we went to Reparos, we trusted that we had the majority.

And the day came, and we thought we had won, and Quico made his pitch for Avenida Presidente Carter, and Carrasquero, in the middle of the night, punctured our dreams and sent us into a tailspin. Carter came and went, Jennifer McCoy gave us her auditoria en frio, Cesar Gaviria ended his months-long Caracas sojourn, Hausmann and Rigobon gave us their black swans, and for a moment we all became experts in Benford’s Law.

Have we recovered? Have we gotten over it?

Seven years. Seven long years.

(HT: Puzkas)

100 thoughts on “Where were you seven years ago?

      • No, no, no. He is not telling ya. You will be the last one who will know. Por tu culpa, por tu culpa, ahora no te vas a enterar. :-)

    • I was at Sumate too, and went to sleep believing that we had won. I lived in Campo Alegre near ‘la casa de la unidad’ and they threw fireworks all night celebrating. Then in the morning I saw this Chavista car celebrating and …. Well, it stil depresses me.

      That morning my wife and I talked and we decided to leave, a few months later we were gone to the other side of the world. I have been overseas for 6+ years.

      Will I ever go back? I hope so…

      • I felt like a foreigner in my own country and I felt that I was robbed blind. So I decided to move to foreign country were being a foreigner was normal.

        I will only get over that day when Chavez is either in jail or buried.

  1. I was at my parents house in Las Adjuntas after 16 hours of waiting in line, we got up at the sound of the diana at 2:00 am and I felt what it is to be a real minority. I don’t think I have recovered from that day when I saw all the power of the chavista machinery in action. We lost in Las Adjuntas 95% to 5%.

  2. I was on family vacation in Cape Cod. I went to bed after hearing a report from the Guardian (UK) saying that the opposition had won 60-40%. Next morning, I went and got the NY times and my heart sank with the news.
    Pelao Manrique

  3. My abiding memory of that madrugada is Andrés Velásquez, at 3 a.m., shouting fraud semi-coherently on UnionRadio, with no evidence, no arguments, nothing to go on at all except the deep down ontological certainty that we could not have lost.

    Bitter, bitter, bitter stuff.

    • On the one hand, it’s nice to see how the opposition has evolved positively. But on the other hand, can we completely rule out a repeat in 2012? How much have we evolved?

      • At this point the only way we will know if we learned anything is if we can prevent anything fishy from happening in 2012, meaning testigos in every mesa.

        Anything less, just means we learned how not to be Chavez’ bitch all the time only we we feel like it.

        • Well, I certainly hope the guys who last time were the suplentes de los suplentes de los suplentes de los testigos in Prebo or El Trigal or Guataparo and the ones who brought the cachitos and the jugo de naranja to those suplentes think whether it’s not better to work as witness in Valencia’s South and in Tocuyito, where half of Valencia’s population lives and where we have testigos only in a tiny fraction of centres

  4. “Have we gotten over it?”

    Can a missing person case ever be closed if the person or evidence of the body is never found? Where’s the data? Who ordered it destroyed. Why were the safeguards disrespected? Who ordered them to be disrespected. What will we do next time…

  5. I went to bed at about midnight, my wife followed me half an hour later waiting for reports but she also gave up; she woke up earlier than me, turned on the kitchen’s TV and got the news. When I finally went downstairs to have breakfast and joked about the gov’t lose, my wife almost killed me…

  6. My wife and I were in Caracas for the RR. She voted and I, as a Canuck, obviously didn’t. I will never forget being woken from a fitful sleep hearing a woman’s plaintive cry from one of the nearby high rise apartments, “Fraude….fraude….fraude.” Then the phone by the bed rang and we got the news of the 60-40 (reversed I still believe) results.
    Granted I was in the East but the streets were strangely, ominously quiet the next day (and beyond) and nowhere to be seen or heard, not even on television, were throngs of happy crowds celebrating their victory.
    The feeling was more like everyone waiting for the other shoe to drop. Those in the opposition waiting for some sort of call to action (that didn’t come) and those for Chavez waiting to see if they were actually going to get away with it (which they did).

  7. I think everybody here should reread this Quico’s post: http://caracaschronicles.com/2004/08/29/something-very-strange-happened-in-venezuela/

    To believe in the outright fraud at the ballots is to believe in perfect conspiracies. Chavismo is much too-chapucero of a regime to pull anything even close to that. The fraud happened much earlier, and continues to happen every election; that is, the fraud happens when 3 months before election all CEN rules get violated, the government delivers frills to the masses, etc. The fraud is the outright exploitation of the advantage of government during election period. Plus, the great majority of Venezuelans are nothing like the readers of this blog. The great majority believe most of the nonsense that is fed to thwm by el Comandante and his minions. That is how Chavez has won his elections.

  8. I was in charge of the opposition witnesses in London, and was also liaising with other Sumate collaborators all over Europe. We voted, we trounced chavismo -if memory serves something like 794 yeses v 16 nos-, got calls from all around, remember specially those of Mari in Vienna and Patricia in Frankfurt, saying that chavista diplomats had stopped counting of votes in the middle of the process, remember having told this site own uncle -at the time Ambassador to the UK- to not even consider doing something of the sort for we would raise hell, to his credit Toro Hardy behaved exemplarily and stuck to LOSPP, I remember being asked to comment by the BBC World Service, going to Bush House early the following day with my pink copy of the tally, and hearing them saying “but Carter and Gaviria will give their imprimatur to the vote…”, to which I replied by explaining how I got that pink copy, how the process of tallying worked according to CNE rules, and concluding with something along the lines of “if Gaviria and Carter want to give credit to something they did not witness, violate every pact they brokered, and throw their reputations away, that was entirely their prerogative but a huge mistake in my opinion…”

    To the question “have gotten over it?”

    To this day, no one, nowhere, has provided a credible, plausible, and believable enough answer explaining why I should accept chavista lies at face value, why I should accept Carrasquero’s announcement at face value, why I should accept Jorgito’s tally at face value, all done secretively, in violation of all electoral laws and agreements signed by all parties before the event, without independent or otherwise witnesses, a chavista affair through and through. So I guess I haven’t gotten over it, simply because I have not seen convincing enough evidence that Chavez won how his minions said he had won (my subsequent exchanges with Jennifer McCoy served to reconfirm my doubts of the royal fuck up the international observers had done). Benford laws and statistics studies published in international peer-reviewed journals aside, it remains, to this day, an indisputable fact that only chavistas were present in that tallying room, and since I am certainly no Carter or Gaviria, I am not prepared to throw caution to the wind by blindingly, unquestioningly, and stupidly surrendering my natural disposition against believing in things for which there is no evidence.

    On this issue, as with religion, there are many people that think differently. In fact, I am one of a tiny minority, that doesn’t believe in Chavez’s ‘resounding referendum victory’, as I don’t believe in God’s existence. FT, and others around here and elsewhere, have decided to believe it. That’s their choice. As with God, a mi no me consta que Chavez ganó el referendo, y por ello, no creo que lo haya ganado.

  9. Another question that occurs to me as a result of this debate.

    Why is the MUD using the CNE for it’s presidential primaries?
    Won’t that give Chavismo all sorts of current regional & local information?

    Just seems stupid to me.

    • 1) The cost of mounting the elections on their own platform probably is higher than using the CNE platform. Even if you go the paper ballot route.

      2) The primaries will serve as training for the presidential election in terms of witnesses etc.

      3) They want to send the message that it’s OK to vote, that the vote is secret despite the fingerprint readers.

      That’s all I can think of right now.

    • That’s a good why, here are three more which should be answered (regardless of MUD):

      – Why is the electoral roll readily available for download from the CNE website? it is a direct violation of confidentiality – every Voter’s full name, ID number and date of birth is on the internet for anyone to see – as if identity theft wasn’t a problem we keep ours out for the taking.

      – Why are there still no sanctions to past violations? time frames for promotion and transparency on campaign funding are not and have not been respected by Chavez yet no penalty or investigation has ever happened.

      – Why do we have a voting system that breaks secrecy? individual votes are transmitted in order at the end of the day, they can be direclty linked to the history in the ‘captahuellas’ (fingerprint scanner) which, by regulation, you must have one ‘captahuellas’ per voting machine and same order of voters as the machine. This voting system has made it so votes are not secret.

      These are three whys that concern every Venezuelan regardless of their policital view.

  10. Doesn’t the expression “malevolent stupidity” -describe Chavez best.
    And- Venezuelan people -too many are naive =much suffering.

  11. I was with my family, told that the SI had won, took the cold water bucket at 3 AM, realized there was little to no meaningful reaction…

    And I was also about two days from realizing that Venezuela and Venezuelans have irrevocably earned qualification into the Pain Olympics; that it’s sure we will grab first place in the Western Hemisphere.

    Every subsequent event, specially elections, have confirmed that conclusion.

  12. After a looooong day as miembro de mesa en El Cafetal, I called some colleages at Sumate to get the final scoop, and the answer was we won 60 to 40%. Went to bet happy and exhausted only to wake up the nex day with the news the results were reversed…

    Sumate had put out a fast and furious previous couple of months of work, printing material and distributing it al over the country, organizing observadores y encuestadores, and many other types of citizen participation drives nation wide. …there were very motivating and electrifing times when we thought democracy, advocacy, activism and participation worked.

    I hindsight I beleive these will eventually defeat the military cleptocracy, and seed the way for a more open society, but before that, the foreing invasion must be kicked out of the country, and regretfully, you need a boot to do that. ( and firepower!)

  13. Agree with lates PElao MAnrique comment:
    THe fraude is done before, during and after the evento electoral. I disagree with his wiew on the regime beign chapuzero. It is chapucero in everything it does except where it rest its survival on, like embezelling and sucking dry the venezuelian trasury, confusing and demotivizing resistance, progaganda and distraction to outsiders, etc. in this it excells, it is world class! where else have you seen a trillion USDs worth been siphoned out so efficiently?

    I am sorry to think, we have learned very little. the timid yo votodondesea drive (and many other non coordinated efforts) to get potential voters abroad franchised, the still-to-be-heard drive to auditar el Registro Electoral, the embarazing new platforms by El TIgre, and similar bacalaos, and most importantly the massive new funding of the technological hardware to be used on the elections give me the feeling we are walking into a new trap.

    After all, this regime has spent a large amount of the above said trillion, and 12+ years basically preparing for what will eventually happend the day after. or any random day, caracazo style.

    I wonder wether the venezuelian society is ready to understand what it will take to kick the chulo castro bros. out? Do we realise the real play at hand?

    • “I wonder wether the venezuelian society is ready to understand what it will take to kick the chulo castro bros. out? Do we realise the real play at hand?”
      All ALL opposition candidates for President of Venezuela must swear to stop supoorting the dictatorship of Cuba-and support a free Cuba. Must swear to cut off all aid to Cuba.
      The next President of Venzuela- Cuba is OFF LIMITS.

      • This is not going to happen. It’s unrealistic to demand this be the case. Venezuela has signed agreements with Cuba, whether we like it or not. I don’t see how Cuba’s yanking 20 thousand doctors from the Barrio Adentro modules is going to make any opposition government sustainable.

        The Cuba-Venezuela relationship is complicated, not for sudden bursts of patriotism. Let’s get real here.

        • the 000’s $ each of these “doctors” cost venezuela pays for tens of great doctors anywhere! …all treaties and agreements must be reviewed and validated! , or not.

          “Get real!”, burst of patriotism”, sometime I fail to understand your positions Juan.

          DO you really think these “doctors” are going to make it easier for a new goverment to perate, or less?

          Patriotism is what its called for at this time! these piratas del CAribe are sucking us dry and you want to keep some behind?… nosense.

          • Where are these doctors, the ones we are going to use to substitute for the Cubans we will kick out?

            • I know quite a lot of them. Do you know a Venezuelan doctor at a public hospital earns less than a nurse? Give them a decent salary and give them protection to go to the barrios. But then: build new hospitals! You don’t need to have tiny health centres in every barrio, but you need to have a good general hospital for every 50 000 inhabitants. Right now there is only ONE SINGLE PUBLIC GENERAL HOSPITAL in Valencia, the same where I was born!

            • Either we’re invaded by Cubans, or we’re not. You can’t have it both ways. If you guys are claiming there are no Cuban doctors, fine, but don’t come back and say there are tens of thousands of Cubans everywhere.

              All I’m sayin’ is – it’s not so simple.

            • Juan,

              When I wrote “I know quite a lot of them” I mean I know Venezuelan doctors who would love, love, love, love to work doing that stuff. But they need a salary that is enough to pay for a small flat in such a place as Caracas or Valencia. Is that immoral?
              They need also that thugs don’t shoot at them, which they don’t if they go with the security Cuban “doctors” have.
              I know a lot of Venezuelan doctors. Some of them are working in those posh clinics in Caracas, but the vast majority are working in the public sector AND in some little clinic. They do the litle clinic to pay the bills. They do the hospitals because that is what they love to do. They would work full time in the hospitals if they got less than what a single Cuban “doctor” costs the Venezuelan state (costs as opposed to gets) – but enough to live out of it.

              Those Cuban “doctors” are mostly health technicians using very crappy medicine from the times of our grandparents. A couple of my friends have had to intervene to save the lives of patients treated by those technicians.
              Of course, most people think that if a person in white is giving them lots of capsules to slick in and is being friendly to them and fills in a form for them they are good. If the person has an attack afterwards, the link is not always established. We need to put things clear.

              Of course, we need to be sure we don’t have 30000 (probably many more) Cubans running amok in Venezuela. A lot of them are specialized in creating chaos.

        • The Cubans will probably try to yank the “doctors” and “trainers” out if chavismo loses and every attempt to prevent this illegally and violently fails.

          The opposition should entreat these people and entice them with all possible incentives to defect and to turn against the Cuban regime. Their advice could be useful in the endeavour of subverting and ending the Cuban dictatorship peacefully. It’s basic survival for any Venezuelan government that is not chavista.

        • I was expecting this reply.I could say “ok, leave the doctors.but- I will
          not go down that road. Now you listen, Juan-to hell with “complicated
          relationship with CUba- it’s a frigging parasite. It is a lie. It is illegal
          Who is being “real”-?
          “Venezuela has signed agreements with Cuba, whether we like it or not”
          Damn Chavez broke the law. Rip up all of those freakin ‘agreements”
          and support a FREE CUBA-not a freakin dictatorship Castro b.s government-Juan!

          • I’m sure your burst of patriotism will come in handy when dealing with the thousands of Cuban secret agents and spies we have roaming around the country. I mean, we just kick them out and that’s that, right? So simple…

            • No, we follow them home and kick their arse there!
              ANd free the hopless country Cuba- not continue
              to support Castro’s hell.

            • We offer them a deal to turn against their former master…

              Then we kick Castrista arse. Or rather we kick ordinary Cubans so they get up and kick their regime out.

        • Sorry Juan, 60+% of the modules are closed and they cost 6 billion a year. We can open a program to import doctors from China cheaper. And they will be real doctors.

          • First macroeconomic measure: No aid to Cuba, PetroCaribe fianncing suspended. Venezuela comes first, no debt issuing if you do that.

            • It’s amazing to me how we can entertain the thought that we are “invaded” by Cubans and at the same time think we can easily expel all of them and not suffer the consequences.

              I mean, at least you have to stop and wonder if it’s even feasible to simply suspend all aid to Cuba, right?

            • BTW, that’s not a macroeconomic measure, it’s a political one. And a dumb one at that.

              Petrocaribe is different. Jamaica doesn’t have thousands of spies roaming around the streets of Caracas.

  14. I was at work in the US. I was a contract employee of a small company that included a number of oppo Venezuelans, whose perspectives changed me from neutral about Chavez to against Chavez.

  15. I recall being woken up early by a “bip-bip-bi-bi-bip” of a passing car, clearly someone thinking there was something to celebrate. Given that I lived in a well-to-do neighborhood in Baruta, that seemed in line with the rumors about Sumate’s position from the night before, so made sense. But something about doing that at such an hour gnawed at me, and I could not return to sleep, having a strange feeling in my stomach. So I got up (much earlier than planned), turned on the TV, and saw Chavez there on the balcony. Wham.

    That part of things still burns me, that the CNE would do this in the middle of the night, and that they were so in bed with Chavez that they would leak the news to him in plenty of time for him to be ready for (and organize) his “impromptu” celebration with thousands of his dear friends. Autonomous, my ass, and I knew it then.

    • To be fair, Chavez did organize an “impromptu” event of the sort for the Constitution referendum that.. erm… didn’t quite pan out.

      I am refering of course to the damned hilarious picture of the deflated Chavez doll-thing.

  16. Wait, first let’s look at the 20,000 doctors. Where are they? Becuase Chavez never built more than 5,000 Barrio Adentro Modules and more than 60% of them are closed, so are there six doctors per module? I don’t buy it.

    Yes, it is a political measure, we are borrowing money so we can pay incompetent doctors more than they cost to take bad care of t]our citizens, who happen to be going hungry, receive no vaccines and see daily shortages of everything.

    How can anyone justify a US$ 12 billion subsidy to another country, when our own budget is Bs. 204 billion (US$ 47 billion at Bs. 4.3) and it includes US$ 12 in debt?

    That means we are giving the Cubans a whooping 25% of our own budget for free and on top oif that we have to go out and borrow that same amount.

    Yes, it is political, very political, Venezuela and Venezuelans come first, as simple as that! To helll with diplomacy and international relations!

    • Miguel, you’re being rash. Don’t you think we should at least wait and see how involved the Cubans are in day-to-day life? What the consequences would be of imposing an oil embargo on Cuba? I’m not saying the agreement was smart, all I’m saying is that dismantling it is not so simple.

      • Come back to the table, Juan . It has to be done, not later, now.Nobody listened- most were quiet-12 years ago. No, it was stupid “hateful stupid-of Chavez.CHavez-is saying
        by his behavior-Venezuelans are stupid-Cubans -smart. Chavez IS is the stupidest of all-to get mixed up with this Cuba garbabe-and people have been too quiet-too submissive, too niave. Chavez has been a nutwing-his arse over his head.
        If he lives and stays in power -it will only get worse. More abuse of power, squandering robbing the wealth, more absolute control.
        Juan- there is no “middle ground”.

        • “No middle ground” is a sure road to getting Chavez back in Miraflores again by mid-2013. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

  17. No, 12 billion can not be justified in any way, sorry, it is about charity beginning at home. It would not be an embargo, they can pay for it, otherwise sorry, why them and not Haiti, for example? Do you know how much they already owe? They havent paid once and we give them more oil than they use, they sell the rest. Sorry. As my first measure as the elected President of Venezuela, I will suspend aid to Cuba and Petrocaribe. They want oil? I will sell it to them but with realistic conditions, not subsidies and those that dont pay, don;t get anything else. As for Cuban-Venezuelan agreements in 2008 when oil prices went down, Chavez cut back aid dramatically (look at the PDVSA financials), so the agreements can not be that iron clad. I did not see protests then, I dont foresee any now.

    • Del apuro no queda sino el cansancio…

      Chavez was smart enough he even kept Caldera’s old finance minister in place…at first…

      • So… do you really believe there’s some worth keeping from this administration? do you want , for example, to keep Giordani or any other of the incompetent losers? I think I’ll pass…

    • We should also include the giveaways to Bolivia, Nicaragua, Argentina, Ecuador and anyone one else that is getting something for nothing.

      It just makes me sick when I think of all that is wrong here & we give away billions for political reasons.

  18. Please Quico, have you bothered to divide US$ 6 billion by 20,000 to see how much each “doctor” costs?

    Mayeb we should keep Weisbrot on the payroll too, to write articles about the new Government.

    Sorry, there is no comparison between a rip-off and keeping Ms. Aguirre

    • 200,000 a year paid to Cuba per doctor- Re. Island Canuck.
      Weisbrot- can rot in hell- another -huge waste of money- by Chavez.

    • Miguel,

      Well YEAH the compromises that are going to have to be made are distasteful.

      Nobody WANTS to make them. You make them because the alternatives are worse.

      And this, this is NOTHING compared to what we’re going to have to swallow in terms of overlooking crimes for the sake of maintaining peace and gobernability.

      It’s going to take a strong stomach. But just think, Chile’s Concertación accepted to make the former dictator a senator for life, retaining control over the armed forces, to ease the transition to democracy.

      The measure of our fitness for office is not going to be our capacity for righteous outrage, it’s going to be our ability to hold the country together in the face of forces on the verge of tearing it apart.

      • Perhaps we can filter the “outrage” into a translation that wants to ensure that you’re at least pulling in that direction.

      • Doesn’t matter what the press says. Doesn’t matter what the politicians or the mobs say. Doesn’t matter if the whole country decides that something wrong is something right. This nation was founded on one principle above all else: the requirement that we stand up for what we believe, no matter the odds or the consequences. When the mob and the press and the whole world tell you to move, your job is to plant yourself like a tree beside the river of truth, and tell the whole world – “No, you move.” — Captain America

        • Perfect – now we’re going to have Hollywood scriptwriters in charge of the transition. #we’refucked

      • Yes Quico. It´s going to take a strong stomach. It´s also difficult to explain to a lot of people that are not willing even to talk to UNT, AD, PJ, COPEI etc… How can you convince someone to negotiate with, let´s say, Carlos Escarrá, when he/she is not willing to talk even to Manuel Rosales? Do they need “hydroponic” “pure” “cristal clear” politicians? Do they have a “neurofecaloma”? I mean, un mojón mental en la cabeza?

        • Ya va. You don’t have to like the cubans to understand the realpolitik-infused impossibility of ignoring them.

          Doubly so for adecos.

          Statecraft demands we accommodate the Cubans while keeping them well away from State power.

          Doubly so for adecos.

            • They’re certainly not in the same category with respect to their historical crimes. In terms of their potential to derail the stability and viability of a transition government seeking to establish itself in a highly volatile post-Chavez scenario? I wouldn’t think they’re too far apart.

          • Francisco Toro,

            The key is in diffusing the danger of having “wrong” individuals with power. Translation: the key is in eliminating the petro-state model. I can’t believe you wrote, not just a post, but a 3-part series of posts emphasizing this key, yet you don’t keep building on that key premise. You keep writing about the lock –about how stuck we are– but you forget about the key. Then it won’t matter who is where in government, because they won’t be able to get their grubby hands on the oil money, to begin with.

            Don’t forget: the key is the key!

  19. Sorry to divert from the issue of Cuban doctors and back to the recall vote. I actually got called that morning to do a story in Ecuador so I wasn’t around for a huge amount of the aftermath. And no, I haven’t read the peer-reviewed statistical studies showing that Chavez cheated, and probably wouldn’t understand them if I did.

    What stuck with me most from that experience was how godawul the opposition’s campaign was. I’ll never forget the day I went out to El Valle to do a story about the chavista electoral machinery, all the way up en la punta del cerro in a place called Negro Primero, si la memoria no me falla. I saw people with maps, lists of every single person in their barrio, with notes that said whether or not they had a ride to polling station. I saw the faces of the women up there, they were genuinely scared, worried sick they could lose this thing, and ready to do everything in their power to make sure they didn’t.

    I went back home to my escualido east side existence and scoured the place for some sign of an opposition toldo. A Primero Justicia poster. Somebody handing out flyers at least? Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Zero. The only sign of campaigning I found was the puestico del NO outside my yoga class. I called up Luis Vicente Leon and I said “this looks to me like the opposition is doing nothing and is running a big risk that it’s going to get its ass kicked.” He responded: “That’s exactly what we’re seeing.” That’s when I really started to think “there’s just no way this is going to happen.”

    i’m not saying they didn’t cheat, like Quico’s post from back then. I’m not saying they didn’t intimidate, threaten, cajole, buy people off, flout the CNE rules. And I’m not saying they played by the rules on the day of vote. But whatever they did, it worked. The opposition was left decimated and completely discredited. Millions of people ran around repeating stories of Russian hackers and Cuban spies, cementing in the eyes of the world the stories Chavez always told about his adversaries being a pile of tinfoil-hat red-baiters. Just over a year later the opposition handed Chavez the congress. Call me an ignorant sandalista suffering from Stockholm syndrome, but I still think he won, no matter what the number crunchers say.

    • “but I still think he won, no matter what the number crunchers say.”

      So, personal, non random, undersized sampling trumps standardized, random, optimized statistics. Is that the position you think should be socially adopted, or is it just for you?

      • What you don’t seem to understand, Torres, is that the statistical question is actually separate from the political consequences of the decision to cry fraud before obtaining – and without reference to – any evidence.

        The total credibility collapse the opposition suffered isn’t actually redeemed by the statistical studies. The multiyear demolition of its standing as a credible alternative government was cemented long before the Benford numbers had been run.

        That’s tough, but it’s like that.

        • Francisco Toro,

          I am curious why you would think I don’t understand that, but I won’t go there. I’ll just ask you to read my comments and see that I don’t call for crying fraud anywhere. I am well aware that statistics cannot prove the existence of fraud. Statistics cannot be used as evidence, as some incorrectly seem to believe. What statistics does in general is provide rational minds with objective means of interpreting data. In this particular, what it does is tell us that the process cannot be considered squeaky clean, that it *rationally* deserves scrutiny. Concluding that there was no fraud is as religiously based on faith as concluding that there was, at least as far as ballots are concerned.

          What is clear is that something is statistically significantly wrong with the results. Just because you cannot see how a fraud could have been achieved , or just because others don’t show proof on how it was, does not change the failure of the results to meet statistical requirements. The lack of fraud evidence does not prove lack of fraud the same way the lack of knowing how a magician does a trick does not prove that magic exists.

          Simple example: I was having to explain to Raul Aular at your other site that a sample, even when taken randomly, sometimes does not result in a sample that passes randomness tests. In statistics it is basic knowledge that this happens a statistical percent of the time. To Raul it seemed insulting that I would even claim that a randomly obtained sampled set may still fail a randomness test, when what I was pointing out was Carter Center’s refusal to accept the results of an objective randomness test, regardless of the reason. It didn’t have to be because of fraud; it just had to be redone.

          Yet, here we have supposedly rational and educated people not wishing to accept even basic knowledge of a mathematical field, rationalizing their religious stance by pointing to a separation between politics and statistics. I’ll take you up on your offer and keep the two items separate: if you explain away the statistical red flags, I’ll buy your no fraud stance. No politics. But if you cannot, then stop trying to get those of us who see the flags to live in your personal denial of “no proof, no fraud”.

        • In a nutshell, statistics only tell you if it’s worth looking for evidence. In this case, they are screaming to go get the evidence. Why are you going to ignore the call? If the DNA tests show that the blood you find all over the place is that of a missing person, would you stop looking for them thinking, “they just don’t want to be found”?

    • What’s clear to me is that when this is all said and done, we’re going to have to add this one to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s remit. Man, they’re going to need a LOT of staff…

  20. We have to reconcile with blood sucking foreigners?

    I really, really don’t get this. If the macroeconomic stability of the new Government depends on cutting off the Cubans, I say screw them!

    Hugo will just be a memory by then….

    • You don’t have to reconcile with them. You have to handle the challenge to stability that they represent.

      Tens of thousands of agents of a hostile foreign power on your soil, embedded in your communities, armed, with intelligence links to your military…you don’t think that’s a security threat? You don’t think “just screw them” has the potential to blow up in your face?

      These guys have to be brought around. Many, many of them are probably itching for a way out of indentured servitude to the Castro double-dictatorship. Many of them could be brought over…if you lay bridges to them, rather than posturing against them. That’s going to call for a hell of a lot of mano zurda.

      Let me be clear: we’re talking about achieving rupture with the Cuban regime in a way that doesn’t compromise the stability and viability of a transition government.

      Sweeping pronouncements will feel good, but they won’t achieve that

        • Yup.

          And once they’ve found cover, then what?

          Do you really propose we spend the already badly over-stretched resources of Venezuela’s crumbling security apparatus on some quixotic manhunt to track down 30,000 cubanos enconchaos!? What do you think it does to the transition government’s standing in the barrios to see the police devoting all its manpower to tracking down and deporting your kid’s volleyball trainer, or the guy who patched you up when you broke your arm!?

          Chamo, it has to be handled. And handled smart.

  21. Look, I am really bothered by all this. To me, the “stability” is not once a new President takes over. The stability is i) Will a winner be recognized? ii) Will he be allowed to take power? Once i) and ii) hurdles are over, Chavismo will run for cover and the Cubans will be long gone. If you assume power, you have to exercize power. Period. And you need money for “stability” the ony uuge cuts are cutting off the Cubans.

  22. I think by putting all “the cubans” in a bag you are making this problem bigger than it needs to be.

    Currently the Venezuelan government pays Cuba an insane amount of money to keep these doctors and other “advisers” in country. What I’ve heard is that the salary the Cuban government pays the doctors themselves (as opposed to what it receives for their work) is a pretty clear cut case of slavery. So assuming that most of these people don’t appreciate living as slaves, why don’t we offer them a decent salary and a path to permanent residency in an open non-communist society. The bad guys (spies and others) you refer to, you deal with the old fashion way… you hunt them down (they are foreign agents after all).

    I also agree with the Devil, if Chavez goes out tomorrow and signs a treaty with Fidel that he will send him the first born males of every Venezuelan family as a sign of our appreciation it doesn’t make much sense to honor that treaty in a post Chavez era (mainly because no one in Venezuela will care of we don’t).

  23. On the referendum results: I recall that night watching canal 8 briefly at about 8 to 9 pm and remember that there was a brief shot of a voting station somewhere in the western section of Caracas, in one of the poorer heavily populated pro-chavez areas. You know what I saw? The Pro-chavez supporters making a long conga-like line with their hands on the shoulders of the voter ahead of them and quickly shuffling (almost jogging) towards the voting station. They were smiling and joking. Then I thought about the 16 hours it took me to vote in the eastern part of Caracas, and I got a very cold feeling in the pit of my stomach. They were putting votes in those machines at incredible speeds. Who says it was one man/one vote? Where there any oppo witnesses? Even if there were, what could they do? Was there a fraud? Probably. Were we ready for it? No way. We were not even prepared to detect it, much less to stop it or challenge the results. And let me tell you, if you thought Chavismo was giving it its all in the recall referendum, you aint seen nothin yet. So, if we want to win, we have to be prepared to risk it all that night.

    Cuba: I think that an eventual oppo gvt has to take a clear, principled stand against the castro regime quickly. It is not only the right thing to do, it is unavoidable and necessary if the new government wants to survive. There is no way the Castros will allow an oppo government to rule in peace because they know that the oppo will eventually have to revise the terms of the arrangements and the Castros will do their utmost to undermine and topple the new government. I think an eventual oppo government must immediately seek security allies in Colombia, the US and Europe in order to block the communists.

    • This quote should be shown to every naive soul that believes that there was anything fair about any election organized by chavismo, then and since:

      “On the referendum results: I recall that night watching canal 8 briefly at about 8 to 9 pm and remember that there was a brief shot of a voting station somewhere in the western section of Caracas, in one of the poorer heavily populated pro-chavez areas. You know what I saw? The Pro-chavez supporters making a long conga-like line with their hands on the shoulders of the voter ahead of them and quickly shuffling (almost jogging) towards the voting station. They were smiling and joking. Then I thought about the 16 hours it took me to vote in the eastern part of Caracas, and I got a very cold feeling in the pit of my stomach. They were putting votes in those machines at incredible speeds.”

      They might not have changed the numbers nationally, maybe… time and a clearer vision (also denied us) will tell. They did EVERYTHING ELSE IN THE MANUAL OF ELECTORAL AND POLITICAL CHICANERY. That’s documented to the fullest.

      And I also agree with you. The peaceful dismantling of the Cuban dictatorship should be the first priority of the opposition, from now on, and specially after chavismo is defeated.

  24. I think you misunderstand the point of the hypothesis in this case. The null hypothesis is no fraud. The no-fraud hypothesis could not be ruled out. Hints of irregularity in the vote were apparent, but there was no credible mechanism that would explain these irregularities as electoral fraud.

    People keep talking about the SUMATE exit polls, but ignore the myriad polls prior to the elections (from all bands) that gave victory to the government.

    Indeed this stuff is like religion. People will believe whatever they want. I rather see this from this position: The fraud-at-the-time-of-voting hypothesis is not the most parsimonious.

    • Pelao Manrique,

      Let me flip it around for you: A) fraud, B) no fraud. Statistically, the chances of the observations ocurring by chance if there was no fraud are almost null, while they’d be almost certain if there was fraud. Why would you place your bets on the almost null possibility?

    • Folks, I know the papers! They suggest fraud (although the Black Swam paper was not peer-reviewed (if I remember correctly) and has some questionable assumptions). However, the papers don’t demonstrate fraud. Without a credible mechanism for fraud, we are still spinning our wheels. I simply refuse to believe in a massive and perfect conspiracy from the Chavista camp. It’s too perverse of an explanation to swallow, particulary when it comes to the most inept government in living memory.

      Quico has made a good point of all the evidence that pointed to a bona fide Chavista victory (as painful as it might appear to all of us). Yet, too many of us keep ignoring it, while desperately clinging to the fraud hypothesis. As I mentioned, the fraud is of a different nature (e.g., massive issue of identity cards (cedulas) for new citizens, misuse of government funds for political advertisement on behalf of the government, and giveaways to voters, etc, etc, etc), all of which give the government an unfair advantage before election day.

      • Pelao Manrique: “the papers don’t demonstrate fraud”

        Statistics does not demonstrate; it alerts. I repeat from above: just because you don’t know how a magic trick was done does not prove magic exists.

        We’re not ignoring Quico’s points; it’s him (and you) ignoring statistical results. The probability of the observed data resulting from no fraud is close to zero. The possibility of fraud exists because of the safeguards that were disrespected the day of the election. The reason we had to use statistics to begin with, is because we were not allowed to find the evidence, directly. Statistics only tells us if it is worth looking for evidence.

        And that’s exactly what statistics says: go look for the evidence because chances are that it exists.

      • Pelao Manrique, it seems to me you are equating “fraud” with “stole the election outright.” I don’t understand why you rule out the possibility of numerical fraud that did not (all by itself, anyways, which is not to ignore any of the problems you identify) fudndamentally change the final result, but merely shifted the balance. This is perfectly plausible when you consider that Chavez didn’t simply want a victory, he wanted (perhaps needed) a resounding one. 51-49 was not going to cut it.

        When you look at http://blogs.salon.com/0001330/categories/rrModels/2006/10/03.html#a3089 , I don’t see how any rational person can say the computerized numbers were not adjusted. I can’t remember if it was this paper or not, but they calculated the odds against it being random as something like 1 in 10^96 power. In other words, it’s about the same odds as me picking two atoms in the earth at random, and you coming along and picking exactly the same two.

        Besides, fraud like that is also the most logical reason why a mathematician was so heavily involved in campaign strategy.

  25. OK, Torres. When you find the mechanistic evidence, get back to me. There is yet one thing for which I am wiling to congratulate Chavismo, and if they pulled this perfect conspiracy, I’ll have to.(Come to think of it, if the evidence is found, then the conspiracy failed. So, I guess I will not congratulate them, LOL).

    • Pelao Manrique: Sorry, Pelao, but it’s the other way around. The fact that chavismo won’t let anyone go look for the evidence suggests one more flag, not one less, so I see the onus being on you to explain away the statistical anomalies.

      Undrerstand: Magic doesn’t exist, even if no one can tell you how the trick works, and what the data is showing is tantamount to magic if assume no fraud.

  26. Continuing aid to Cuba because you are afraid of what the Cuban operatives emplaced in Venezuela might do – is paying Danegeld. And “Once you have paid him the Danegeld, you never get rid of the Dane.”

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