A delegation of National Lawyers Guild (NLG) election monitors visited polling sites in five Venezuelan states on April 14 and found that the Venezuelan presidential election process was fair, transparent, participatory, and well-organized.
With over 78 percent voter turnout, Nicolas Maduro Moros was declared Venezuela’s new president with a 50.66 percent share of the 99.12 percent of votes counted.
“The U.S. would do well to incorporate some of the security checks and practices that are routine in Venezuela to improve both the level of participation and the credibility of our elections,” said NLG attorney Robin Alexander. She added, “The six polls I visited in the state of Carabobo were calm and well-organized and lines were short.”
The five-member NLG delegation formed part of a larger team of over 130 people, which included former presidents of Guatemala and the Dominican Republic, electoral commission members, journalists, and representatives of human rights organizations from across the globe. Election monitors traveled to polling places throughout the country on Election Day.
The NLG delegation found the following: advanced voting procedures that prevent fraud through multiple fingerprint and voter ID certifications; accurate and efficient digital and manual vote calculation; active participation by party witnesses and national and international observers.
In addition, the NLG monitors found a reliable system in which 54 percent of all votes are randomly audited on Election Day. NLG monitors witnessed one such audit in Caracas in which the paper ballots matched perfectly with the electronic votes.
As a U.S. organization, the NLG emphasizes that the margin of victory for Nicolas Maduro, while small, is comparable to close elections in the U.S., such as the margins of victory for John F. Kennedy in 1960 and for George W. Bush in 2004.
The NLG calls upon the U.S. to honor the Venezuelan election as the nations of the world honor U.S. elections without question. Moreover, as recognized by Jimmy Carter, Venezuela’s election infrastructure, with its secure electronic system backed by paper ballots, is “the best in the world,” and therefore deserves at least as much respect as our own.
As NLG member and international human rights law professor Daniel Kovalik states: “In the end, it is the Venezuelans who must decide their own future and leaders and the U.S., in the interest of democracy, must honor that decision.”
NLG President + 1 212 679 5100, ext. 15
On the ground in Venezuela:
Nicole Phillips Esq.,
+1 510 715 255, email@example.com
Camilo A. Romero,
+1 510 717 4227
+1 412 335 6442
+1 602 796 7034
+1 412 716 1696
- Capriles Falsifies Evidence in Order to Claim Fraud in Venezuela’s Elections
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In a potentially precedent-setting decision, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday that a Guild lawyer’s challenge to military spying on peace activists can proceed. The ruling marks the first time a court has affirmed people’s ability to sue the military for violating their First and Fourth Amendment rights.
“This has never been done before,” said NLG member attorney Larry Hildes, who is handling the case. “The U.S. government has spied on political dissidents throughout history and this particular plot lasted through two presidencies, but never before has a court said that we can challenge it the way we have.”
The ruling is the latest development in the lawsuit, Panagacos v. Towery, first brought by Hildes in 2009 on behalf of a group of Washington state antiwar activists who found themselves infiltrated by John Towery, an employee at a fusion center inside a local Army base. Fusion centers are multi-jurisdictional intelligence facilities which house federal and local law enforcement agencies alongside military units and private security companies. Their operations are largely secret and unregulated. There are currently 77 fusion centers in the United States.
The lawsuit names Towery as well as the Army, Navy, Air Force, FBI, CIA, Department of Homeland Security, and other law enforcement agencies. For at least two years, Towery posed as an activist with the antiwar group Port Militarization Resistance (PMR), a group that sought to oppose the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan through civil disobedience. The infiltration came to light when public records requests filed with the City of Olympia unearthed documents detailing an expansive surveillance operation. In addition to PMR, Towery targeted Students for a Democratic Society, the Olympia Movement for Justice and Peace, the Industrial Workers of the World, Iraq Veterans Against the War, an anarchist bookstore in Tacoma, and other activist groups.
The latest ruling denies the government’s appeal on the basis that the allegations of First and Fourth Amendment violations carried out by Towery are “plausible.” His lawyers have until December 31 to appeal the decision. If they do not appeal, the case will return to district court and the discovery phase will begin.
The National Lawyers Guild is the oldest and largest public interest/human rights bar organization in the United States. Its headquarters are in New York and it has members in every state.
White middle class Americans grow up imbibing Hollywood stereotypes of police states in which the villains have exotic names and accents and are very definitely not the kind of people you’d want to drink beer or smoke a joint with. But five young people who went to Chicago to oppose U.S. wars had the misfortune to meet some secret police who seemed to fit in quite well with their peer group. Known only as “Mo” and “Gloves,” the undercover police officers were among the eleven people originally seized at an apartment in the Bridgeport neighborhood of Chicago’s South Side. Then, suddenly, they were gone, but three of their erstwhile anti-war friends would face charges of manufacturing Molotov cocktails and conspiring to mount an attack on President Obama’s campaign headquarters. Apparently, Mo and Gloves will testify to that effect. However, attorneys at the National Lawyers Guild say there were no Molotov cocktails found at the scene, just some equipment to home brew beer.
Mo and Gloves were also apparently behind the arrest of two other activists, both from Chicago, charged with making terrorist threats and attempted possession of explosives or incendiary devices. The dynamic duo Mo and Gloves are expected to testify that the defendants confided that they wanted to burn and bomb things. One of the guys supposedly bragged that he could blow up a bridge in downtown Chicago. The other man allegedly wanted to build a pipe bomb. They are guilty, you see, of felonious and wishful thinking.
The two undercovers were clearly among the most gregarious couples in town for the NATO summit meeting. A defense attorney said lots of activists told her they had met Mo and Gloves – and were, understandably, worried.
In Cleveland, a 39-year-old police informant named Shaquille Azir appears to have lured five young guys who were associated with the Occupy movement and called themselves anarchists into a possible lifetime in prison. According to an excellent Counterpunch article by Jake Olzen, Azir talked himself into the men’s lives, encouraged them to separate from Occupy to form a People’s Liberation Army, and finally, got them to try to blow up a bridge with an inert bomb built with materials provided by the FBI. The informant Azir accomplished this feat of mass manipulation through the dispensing of vast quantities of beer. Every morning, he gave his victims a case of beer, and each evening he showed up with marijuana and another case of beer. It is, therefore logical to conclude that American capitalism is threatened, not so much by implacable opponents or internal contradictions, but by beer.
When I was a very young child, there was a television show called “I Led Three Lives.” The hero was an undercover informant who infiltrated American communist cells to expose their violent plans. The communists were all played by character actors from gangster films. The result was pure fiction, but it did hang together as a typical TV melodrama of the time. However, I think there will never be a movie about the undercover cops Mo and Gloves, who flitted around Chicago making up conversations in order to put people they had never met in prison for life. There oughta be a movie like that, but there won’t. Even the cops would be shamed.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
- Fishy arrests in Chicago (salon.com)
- The Empire Holds Its War Council in Chicago (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Chicago police accused of planting evidence in ‘Molotov cocktail’ plot (rawstory.com)
- NATO Summit Chicago Terrorist Plot: Beer-Making Equipment Deemed ‘Terror’ Device (PHOTO, VIDEO) (blippitt.com)
- Strangling Civil Liberties, One Twist at a Time (alethonews.wordpress.com)