Mérida, October 7, 2007 (venezuelanalysis.com)-
One of the five directors of Venezuela's National Electoral Commission (CNE),
Vicente Diaz, called for an investigation of President Hugo Chavez this week
for violating the nation's laws regarding political propaganda. Diaz accused
Chavez of using state resources to promote the newly-formed United Socialist
Party of Venezuela (PSUV). In a similar case, Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez
was sanctioned recently by the CNE for engaging in illegal electoral propaganda
before the 2006 presidential elections.
Diaz called for the
investigation of President Chavez on Friday for the "continuous violation
of the country's legal framework." Diaz announced to the press on Friday
that he would request that the CNE open an administrative investigation in
order to regulate political propaganda.
"We are in a situation of
altering the principles of the constitution, of the norms of the constitution,
and by way of the media I want to ask the president to stop promoting a
political party that represents only one segment of the Venezuelan population,
with resources that belong to all Venezuelan citizens," said Diaz.
He explained that the
constitution prohibits this kind of action, citing Article 145 that states that
no public official can use state funds to promote any political organization.
He went on to emphasize the
necessity for a "balance of political propaganda" in regards to the
constitutional reform as well and stated that it must be the task of the CNE to
regulate in that respect. Diaz mentioned the lack of balance during the 2006
presidential elections, stating that the state-controlled television channels
were dedicated to pro-Chavez propaganda, while the private television channels
dedicated themselves to propaganda for Chavez' opponent, Manuel Rosales.
He stated that the National
Electoral Council will be meeting next week to discuss the details for how
electoral propaganda should be regulated with regards to the constitutional
reform, and assured that no one other than the National Electoral Council
should partake in political propaganda concerning the constitutional reform.
"No one can distribute
propaganda if they are not registered with the National Electoral
Council," said Diaz. He went on to explain several of the regulations
being considered regarding the reform. Diaz stated that only the CNE will be
able to place propaganda about the reform on the radio, television or in the
media. In addition, he explained that all propaganda against the reform will be
equally balanced with propaganda in favor of the reform.
"The objective is that all
Venezuelans receive balanced information in order to guarantee that when they
go vote they will have received information from all sides," he said.
Communications Minister William
Lara rejected the statements, claiming that CNE Director Vicente Diaz is trying
to "silence" the president and not allow him to participate in the
politics of the nation. Lara claimed that Diaz was using his position as
director of the electoral council to work for the opposition to the government.
"Lets see if Diaz takes
the authority to force the television stations, the radio stations, the
newspapers and the internet sites to stop spreading lies and distorting the
content of the constitutional reform," said Lara.
In another case, the CNE
recently sanctioned Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez for violation of the
country's electoral regulations. The minister was penalized with a fine of Bs.
18 million (US$ 8,400) for a political speech he gave last November before the
2006 presidential elections.
In a speech given to the upper
management of the state oil company PDVSA, Ramirez warned the workers that the
company would be loyal to President Chavez, calling it "totally red"
in reference to the color of the pro-Chavez campaign.
A video of the speech was revealed to the press
shortly after and then denounced by the major parties of the opposition as
unfair political pressure on the part of a state official. The National
Electoral Council then launched an administrative investigation of the affair
and found Ramirez guilty of violating the national rules for electoral