Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The death of Hugo Chávez

It didn't matter where you read about him in the mainstream press, within the first few comments someone would always show up to denounce Chávez as a "dictator" and decry the "damage" he'd done to the Venezuelan economy.

Even on the day after his death the vile Murdoch press wouldn't give it a rest, printing a revoltingly gleeful piece the Boston Herald deriding him as a "despot".


The problem with most of these right-wing criticisms is that they are completely inaccurate. Chavez won democratic elections with huge majorities time and again. Not only did he win elections, he also established in Venezuela a modern democratic voting system that should be the envy of the world.


In Venezuela voters first register by inputting their name, national ID number and thumbprint into a console. They then cast an electronic vote for their preferred party candidate on a touchscreen. Their vote is counted electronically and is also printed so that the voter can confirm that it has been recorded properly before putting this paper copy in a ballot box (the contents of which is later cross-checked with the electronic data to ensure the system has not been manipulated). Voters then sign a form to confirm they have cast a vote. Before they leave, the little finger on their left hand is marked with indelible purple ink so they cannot return to vote a second time. External observers and domestic analysts have praised the procedure as one of the most sophisticated systems in the world. Luis Guillermo Piedra, of the National Electoral Council stated that "our system is 100% fraud proof and has been recognised as such by outside political institutions". Former US president Jimmy Carter has described the Venezuelan voting system as superior to that of the US and Forbes even suggested the US copy Venezuela's electoral system.

Chávez inspired such strong feeling that the turnout at his last election was over 80.5%. 55.1% of voters cast their vote for Chávez, but a huge 44.3% cast their votes for his rival Henrique Capriles. More