Nacional Electoral Council rectors refuse to sanction President Hugo Chávez or State oil chief Rafael Ramírez. Rector Vicente Díaz maintains that Chávez and Ramírez are violating Venezuelan law.
Eight times since 2006, the members of Venezuela’s National Electoral Council (CNE) have rejected petitions to investigate President Hugo Chávez use of public funds to finance his personal electoral propaganda. The CNE rejected the petition despite clear video evidence presented by CNE Rector Vicente Díaz, showing campaign activities held as part of official State events and broadcast with State media and obligatory coverage regulations.
According to Díaz, the mandatory National Broadcast of Radio and Television ordered by Chávezon February 24–transmitting on all radio and television channels for 186 minutes–to present his re-election campaign team violates Article 145 of the Venezuelan Constitution among other laws and electoral regulations. Article 145 stipulates that public officials are at the service of the nation and do not show political preference in any way.
The national Anti-Corruption Law (Article 13) indicates that officials may not put public funds or materials at the service of any political persuasion. Likewise, Article 6 of the Electoral Processes Law states that public officials “may not exercise any public function oriented toward their political preferences or to the detriment of any political organization”.
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Free reign for State oil money in 2012 elections
On July 13, 2007, the National Electoral Council sanctioned the president of the State oil company (PDVSA) for failing to comply with the federal “Regulations for Publicity and Propaganda” during Venezuela’s 2006 presidential elections.
At that time, the government official was charged a fine of 18,000 bolivars (approximately $4,500 USD). The amount of the fine was labelled by European Union (EU) election observers as symbolic and without practical impact in terms of diminishing future incumbent advantage and the abuse of power in Venezuela’s elections.
This year, Rector Díaz requested an investigation of Energy Minister Ramírez for converting official oil-related state events into part of Chávez’ election campaign–throughout February 2012. This was the same allegation made in 2006 when Ramírez coined the phrase “PDVSA is redder than red”, indicating the State oil infrastructure’s undying loyalty for President Chávez. This year’s investigation request, however, was denied by the national electoral authority.
Electoral regulations still not ready
National Electoral Council rectors indicated that more than 300 articles were still not written for the regulations for October’s president elections. At present, the CNE has approved 143 articles of the estimated 475 that will regulate the campaign, as part of the “General Regulations of the Organic Electoral Processes Law”.
The rejection of the requested investigations of Chávez and Ramírez and the failure to publish electoral regulations thus far, however, present a legal problem in terms of the government’s credibility in claiming elections are both free and fair. If neither the federal electoral authority nor the Veneuzelan Supreme Court (TSJ) are willing to act, Chávez will be able to continue his illegal use of State media and public resources for political gain.
More videos of Chávez abuse of power on State media (in English):