Who needs the Venezuelan opposition to criminally announce the results of the referendum in advance when the international press can do so just as well?
Even though the National Electoral Council has just announced (about 8:30pm) that polls will not be closing until midnight because there are so many people still to vote, the Hannah Baldock of the UK Independent has used dubious and unsourced “exit polls” from this morning to present Chavez on the brink of defeat. This is against Venezuelan law, for good reason, as Al Giordano of the Narcosphere wrote earlier tonight (he passed me this link). Has Hannah joined the opposition? Does Hannah want to break laws and contribute to the chaotic and irresponsible media atmosphere? Or did she just want to scoop the rest of the journalistic world? Hard to know. What is easy to know is that this was a piece of criminally irresponsible journalism that the Independent should rectify. It is also very likely wrong. But the point is that we cannot know if it is wrong until the polls are closed and the votes counted.
Speaking of the narcosphere, here is something I prepared for them a few hours back but could not post due to technical difficulties.
By Justin Podur, narcosphere
Greg Flakus, in his August 15 article on the ongoing recall referendum in Venezuela, laments the fact that there are “There are long lines at polling stations in Venezuela”. These lines could be sinister, Flakus suggests, citing Cesar Gaviria of the OAS: “is very important to have results known as quickly as possible, because, when there is a delay that cannot be easily explained, questions about the process emerge.”
Flakus´s “questions” about the lineups, however, can be “easily explained.” Where Flakus claims “Delays at polling stations have been caused by a lengthy process of identification for each voter that includes a fingerprint scanner”, Jimmy Carter at a press conference 5:20pm said the lineups are caused by higher levels of participation than ever before. Carter also said that the CNE was taking appropriate measures to deal with the situation, closing the polls as late as necessary. He urged voters to be patient, and assured Venezuelans that everyone who wanted to vote would be able to do so regardless of the time. The late closing of the polls, according to Carter, made the avoidance of early announcements of results even more important.
Gaviria himself, Flakus´s source on the possible “questions” that the lineups might cause, said at the same press conference that the patience of the Venezuelan people was amazing. He echoed Carter´s sentiment that everything was going very well, thanks to the work of the CNE and the people of Venezuela.
A last note about the lineups. It is now 5:35pm and reports are that there is no lineup any more at the El Bosque voting station (it looks to me like Flakus took his photo at this SI stronghold). But aporrea.org (a source that is certainly no more biased than the Voice of America) reported earlier this afternoon that the longest lineups and the most suspicious machine glitches were happening in the popular neighbourhoods. (http://www.aporrea.org/dameverbo.php?docid=19513).