Opposition Agrees to Participate in Recall Signature Re-Certification Process

In a long-awaited decision the opposition coalition Democratic Coordinator agreed to participate in the process that is designed to re-certify signatures in the petition for a recall referendum against President Chavez.

Caracas, April 28, 2004—In an eagerly anticipated decision yesterday, the opposition coalition Democratic Coordinator (CD), following a marathon debate of seven hours, decided to participate in the re-certification process of the petition signatures for a recall referendum against President Chavez. The final decision had to await the CD’s revision of the re-certification or “repair” data and of the rules governing the repair process.

According to Sumate, the U.S.-funded organization that is aiding the CD in its recall effort, the signature data that the national electoral council (CNE) submitted to Sumate was not completely congruent with their own records of the recall drive. Nonetheless, the CD decided, against the opposition of potential presidential candidate Henrique Salas Römer, to participate in the repair process. Felipe Mujica, one of the spokespersons of the CD said, “No one can say that if we enter into the repair process that this would be a guarantee of triumph. It does not guarantee anything. The repair process is a political combat zone that we must enter if that is the decision of the Coordinator.”

Alberto Quiros Corradi, another spokesperson for the CD, said that the people who need to re-certify their signatures will be mobilized with the help of oppositional governors, mayors, and legislators. “We know who they are, what profession they have, and where each of the repairers live,” said Quiros Corradi. In the days leading up to this decision, opposition leaders emphasized that the repair process would be relatively safe because 70% of the signatures that the opposition needs to re-certify are in states where the governor belongs to the opposition.

Of the 3.4 million signatures the opposition claimed to have submitted for a recall referendum against President Chavez, about 3.1 million were on valid petition forms. Of these, the CNE validated 1.9 million and declared that 1.2 million would be eligible for re-certification via the repair process. During the repair process, which is to take place in the last week of May, signers may declare that their name be stricken from the petition or confirmed in the case of signatures that had been invalidated. Almost 900,000 signatures had been temporarily rejected on the basis that much of the personal data and even the signatures in some cases appeared to have been written by the same hand.