President Carraquero of the National Electoral Council announced the preliminary result as of 3:47 am just now (4:10am) with between 94-96% of the results in. The result: 58% NO (4 991 483 million votes) and 42% SI (3 576 517 million votes). In other words, it´s all over, right?
It should be. The Electoral Council, which was perfectly good for everyone involved until now, is no longer good enough for the opposition. They announced just before the preliminary results that they would not accept the results. And now, as folks have said before, all depends on the Carter Center and the OAS. These groups are in frantic negotiations with the Coordinadora Democratica (opposition) right now. Rumour (I´ll confirm as soon as possible) is that Carter and Gaviria of the OAS are fighting. Carter apparently thinks that the vote ought to be accepted. Gaviria believes that some kind of “solution” should be sought in spite of the clear vote. I am having trouble believing in Carter´s insistence on democracy, but for argument´s sake let´s accept that that´s what´s going on. If that is what´s going on, and if Gaviria and the opposition have their way, it will be an abhorrent message from the world to Venezuelans, that they are on their own in trying to defend their democracy and that international bodies have no credibility to tell them anything. This could end up to be the case. But since we waited so many hours for the people to speak, we ought to give these groups a chance to save a minimum of credibility for themselves as well.
UPDATE (5:35am). In case anyone was worried that the opposition was going to do the right thing and respect the Venezuelan vote, Henry Ramos Allup dispelled that notion dramatically this morning in a televised press conference. According to the Coordinadora Democratica´s own figures (not really sure how they were collected, but some way far more reliable than the double-system of the machines), of 8 million votes counted, SI had 59% and NO 40.6%. Ramos said they would be spending today (Monday) gathering evidence to present to the international community.
This claim, without evidence like virtually every other claim of the opposition, gives the Carter Center, OAS, and international press a real choice. Will they respect the vote of the Venezuelans and their electoral authorities, which they have been praising all day, or will they opt for sleazy, evidence-free claims that are designed to sow chaos and undermine progress?
I wish I wasn´t so sure of the answer. (UPDATE: I was wrong! Not for the first time, about Venezuela. Carter and Gaviria stated clearly at a press conference at 1:30pm that they found NO EVIDENCE of fraud (and it was pretty clear Gaviria wanted to find evidence). So, there you have it. Much clearer than I thought.)