Caracas, Venezuela, May, 19, 2005—Yesterday, Venezuela’s Supreme Court of Justice (TJS) decided that it will take action in the case of National Assembly Deputy Luis Tascón, based on the charge that the “Tascón List” contained “information [that] violated the right to honor and to reputation.” Tascón has ten days to present his case and defend his actions.
The “Tascón List” is a list of almost three million Venezuelans who signed a petition in support of the recall referendum in August, 2004 against Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. Posted on the personal webpage of Luis Tascón as a means to allow Venezuelans to see if their identity or signature had been misappropriated, the “Tascón List” and Tascón’s reasons for posting it have become a hotly debated topic. According to both Chávistas and members of the opposition, the list was exploited for political reasons; people from both political camps were either hired or fired based on whether their name appeared on the list.
Elías Pernía, one of the plaintiffs in the case, filed a complaint on March 11th, 2004, alleging that the posting of the list on Tascón’s webpage entailed a “mega electoral fraud” because it “constitutes arbitrariness, by accusing over three million Venezuelans of forming part of a big fraud…which is completely false.” According to Pernía, he was “being morally affected by being subjugated to public mocking.” Specifically citing Article 444 of the Penal Code which deals with defamation, Pernía then asked for “the destruction of this archive and its information, because such an electronic webpage is contradictory to all of the constitutional principles.
According to Pernía, who has waited for over a year for this Supreme Court decision, now the ruling “does not make sense.” Pernía explained that the idea of filing the complaint was to get his name taken off the list. Now that he has suffered the consequences of having his name posted, the next course of action could be a civil suit against Tascón.
Tascón has been under investigation since April 17th by the Venezuelan Attorney General.
According to Venezuela’s Vice President José Vicente Rangel, the organization Súmate, which collected the signatures for the petition for the recall referendum, is at fault, not Luis Tascón. “It seems excellent to me that the Supreme Court has accepted the opportunity to clarify the situation and I believe that Tascón has the opportunity to prove before the TSJ who is the author of this list,” Rangel affirmed. “The President does not have any responsibility with the list,” Rangel said, adding that when Chávez spoke of the list his intention was to reach “a point of understanding between all Venezuelans.”