Caracas, Venezuela, April 18, 2005—Over the weekend, Venezuela’s President Chavez said that the list of names known as the “Tascon list,” which contains the names of Venezuelans who signed the petition for a referendum against the president, should be “buried.” The Tascon list is said to have been used by various state institutions to exclude opposition supporters from government jobs, credit, passports, or other state services.
During a meeting with mayors and other local officials of the Venezuelan state of Bolivar state, Chavez said, “forget Luis Tascon’s list of signers; bury the data of those who supported a recall referendum in late 2003.” Chavez said that reconciliation with the opposition was necessary and that Venezuelans should “leave behind” the difficult times that they had gone through and that Venezuelans should work together for the well-being of the country.
Recently, the national media had increasingly reported about individuals who were either denied government jobs or fired from their job because their name was on the list of signers in support of the recall referendum. In December 2003, 2.5 to 3.1 million Venezuelans petitioned for a recall referendum against the President, which eventually took place on August 15, 2004. Chavez defeated the referendum with 59% of the vote.
Opposition organizations, such as Ciudadania Activa (Active Citizenry) and the Confederation of Venezuelan Workers (CTV) announced that they would take legal action against the President. Rodrigo Ayala, spokesperson of Ciudadania Activa, said that the President’s declaration does not solve the problem of all of those who have been fired from their jobs for having supported the referendum. “One must compensate the victims and from there one must try all those who allow the unjustified use of the list, including the President,” said Ayala.
Today a group of opposition leaders said they would take their case to the UN with the argument that the list was used to commit crimes against humanity. Antonio Ledezma, of the opposition party Brave People’s Alliance urged all those who had been discriminated against to add their names to the complaint, which his party would file.
Luis Tascon, who is a deputy from the state of Táchira, on whose website the list of petition signers had been posted, said that he had removed the list from his site in 2004, following the referendum, “in order to avoid that it would cause any kind of retaliation or persecution.” He defended having posted it, though, explaining that it was necessary in order to detect fraudulent signatures in the petition drive. Last year, Chavez supporters were asked to check if their name appeared on the list and if it did, to have it removed during the “repair” period.Tascon did admit, though, that the list had been used to persecute supporters of the opposition. “In any sense it is disgraceful,” that people used the list to retaliate against their political opponents because the referendum process was an expression of citizens’ will. He said that from now on his personal website, www.luistascon.com, would be used to post denunciations of those state officials who are persecuting theor political opposnents, whether they support the president or oppose him.