Reuters’ Fake “Clarification” to an article on Venezuela

The international press has bent over backs to put Venezuela’s presidential elections under a cloud, precisely as the defeated US backed candidate, Henrique Capriles, has been working tirelessly to do since he lost by only 1.5 percentage points to Nicolas Maduro in April.

This Reuters’ article originally stated

“Maduro originally accepted a proposal for a full audit of the close April election which he won, but then backtracked and has since hardened his stance."


It was then “clarified” to say

“Maduro said immediately after the April 14 election that he was open to a full audit of the results, but in the following days ruled that out. The electoral authority several days later agreed to an extended audit, but the opposition refused to participate on the grounds that it was not sufficiently thorough.”

Summing up the dispute fairly in one paragraph is a challenge, but the following (or something like it) would have done it:


The electoral authority (CNE) did a 53% audit of the votes on Election Day in the presence of opposition observers – its normal procedure. That audit takes a random sample of 53% of the ballot boxes to check that paper receipts given to voters match their electronically cast votes. Citing the massive sample size of its standard audit, the CNE resisted but then agreed to a full 100% audit of ballot boxes WHICH WAS JUST COMPLETED and confirmed the results. The opposition originally welcomed but then boycotted the 100% audit on the grounds that a full audit of the fingerprint registry was also required. The CNE has just announced that it would re-audit the fingerprint registry (last audited before Hugo Chavez’s last presidential election in October 2012 with the participation of the opposition) and that it would be completed by September.

Reuters is extremely eager to accuse Maduro of backtracking, but it fails to report how opposition demands have shifted and have, nevertheless, been met. It fails to clarify that the CNE, not Maduro, is the electoral authority. It fails to convey how extensively audited Venezuela’s electoral system is. A fair article on this dispute would inform readers that Chavistas have not challenged extremely narrow electoral wins by the opposition, including Capriles’ razor thin victory in the Miranda state just prior to April’s presidential election.  

Maduro has supported the CNE’s decisions all along. Immediately after the election however, Maduro proved far more willing to accept opposition's demand for a 100% audit than was the CNE, perhaps wrongly assuming that the CNE would accept the demand right way. That’s no excuse for ignoring the opposition’s shifting demands, conflating Maduro with the electoral authorities, or for ignoring that opposition demands have been met.

Capriles has made no secret of his intention to discredit the elections internationally. Reuters should not feel obliged to help him. Read this piece by Dan Beeton of CEPR for scrutiny of Capriles’ claims of fraud. You will very rarely find this kind of scrutiny of Capriles on any important issue in Reuters articles.

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