BY MICHAEL ROWAN
AND DOUG SCHOEN
Hugo Chavez may have lost both the Recall Referendum in 2004 and the December, 2006 presidential election according to studies conducted by a distinguished multidisciplinary team in Caracas including Frederick Malpica, the current Rector of Universidad Simon Bolivar and Alfredo Weil, a former Rector of the National Electoral Council.
Astonishing as it may seem to Americans who believe the contention of Chavez that he won both elections by a landslide – 58/42 in the Recall and 61/39 in the presidential election -- the studies show that since 2003, Chavez has added 4.4 million favorable names to the voter list and “migrated” 2.6 million unfavorable voters to places where it was difficult or impossible for them to vote.
None of these additions or migrations to the voter register has been independently audited in Venezuela, and all the votes have been counted electronically by Chavez cronies, so when Chavez announces a landslide there has been no way to prove otherwise, even though exit polls and other data have consistently showed that half the voters of Venezuela or more oppose Chavez.
WHAT IF GEORGE W BUSH HAD....
And because of this fraudulent manipulation, Chavez has been able to claim a national mandate for all of the following, which we clarify for Americans as if George. W. Bush had done it in America:
He won all 435 seats in the House and all 100 in the Senate, and packed the Supreme Court with nine sycophants that never ruled against him.
He asked his rubber-stamp Congress to let him legislate unilaterally including amending the Constitution and 100% of the Members of Congress voted for that.
He decreed under these powers that he can run for re-election to the presidency for life.
He plans to decree that cities and states will no longer be governed by elected mayors and governors but by people’s committees named by him.
He owned or controlled all but a few TV and radio stations that either cover his endless speeches averaging 40 hours per week or risk losing their broadcast licenses.
He created one political party and denied the rights of citizenship to recalcitrant members of opposition parties.
He took over the Federal Reserve and spent the national treasury as if it was a personal checking account.
He funded his campaign with government money and publicly and repeatedly threatened government workers to vote for him or be fired.
He dictated wages, prices, interest rates, profits and currency exchange rates under the economic theory that he knows best.
He created an army reserve commanded personally by him that was ten times the size of the existing military.
He nationalized the telephone and electric utilities along with thousands of private enterprises in the belief that collectives are better than private enterprises.
He put military henchmen loyal only to him in charge of government and civil institutions that they have no qualifications to run.
He declared that schools would submit to a curriculum that rewrites national history as he sees it, and mandated military indoctrination for all children.
He dictated the purpose and occupancy for private homes, apartment houses, and properties under the threat of confiscation if owners did not comply.
He prosecuted human rights and voter rights leaders for treason, which is punishable by 16 years in prison.
He jailed for five years individuals who voiced opinions on TV he disagreed with.
He looked the other way as thousands of his police and military worked the murder, kidnapping, theft, drug and money-laundering trades with impunity.
He is considering declaring a national religion with him as its spiritual leader.
He changed the way unemployment and poverty are calculated when the international standards of measurement proved embarrassing to his false claims of having solved those problems.
He runs an off-budget slush fund that rivals the size of the official government budget.
He increased the size of a corrupt and inefficient bureaucracy so grandly that he now has at least one employee in half the families of the country.
He travels the world ceaselessly and lavishly preaching about ending poverty, warfare and theft – the three main characteristics of his government.
He advertises his model of government – the highest inflation rate and murder rate in Latin America, and one of the worst human rights records – as the hope of the world.
FACT, NOT FICTION
We are not making this up, Chavez did all of that and more. But the way some of our liberal Democratic friends talk about him, Hugo Chavez is really a good guy who has been slandered and misunderstood. “We need more dialogue with him,” they say. “He’s an elected president of a sovereign nation and we should respect that.”
What is it about Chavez that they don’t get? What does Chavez have to do to make them see him as he really is? If calling Bush the “the Devil” and America the “the Evil Empire” is all someone has to do to gain liberal democratic acceptance, why didn’t Pol Pot, Muammar Qadaffi and Robert Mugabe qualify?
We know what we’re talking about. One of us lived in Venezuela for the last thirteen years as a newspaper columnist there. The other conducted exit polls in the 2004 Recall Referendum and the 2006 presidential election that told an entirely different story than the count Chavez announced in both cases.
But our old pal Jimmy Carter endorsed the Chavez counts without any verifiable paper ballot count or audit. Why did he do that, and why does he continue to support Chavez as if he’s the Second Coming? As we see it, Jimmy’s recent mistakes go beyond his misreading of Israel’s “apartheid” to his misreading of Venezuela’s “democracy”.
And why do Members of Congress in 17 states look the other way as Chavez delivers subsidized oil to households in their Congressional Districts? Could it be they don’t know what he’s really up to? Or is it that they don’t really care what he does to Venezuelans and the world as long as he delivers the oil?
We believe Chavez is given a wide berth everywhere because he’s got oil second only to Saudi Arabia. But what if he’s using America’s addiction to oil to get Americans to ignore what he’s up to? And what if a few dupes in America are helping him do that?
Doug Schoen is a principal in Penn Schoen & Berland. Michael Rowan is a free-lance columnist and the author of Getting Over Chavez and Poverty. This column originally appeared in the New York Sun. Republished with permission from the authors.