BBC investigative reporter Greg Palast published a fascinating article in Vice Magazine this week (Nicolas Maduro Did Not Steal the Venezuelan Election) about being hired by Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro in 2004 to investigate the possibility the US might tamper with Venezuela’s elections (following Palast’s 2001 expose detailing how Florida governor Jeb Bush stole the election for his brother).

The article describes how he presented Chavez and Maduro with a collection of secret FBI memos revealing that ChoicePoint Corp – under a no-bid contract (from the US government) – had “shoplifted” Venezuela’s voter rolls, as well as the voter rolls of Argentina, Brazil, Nicaragua, Mexico and Honduras, all of whom were on the verge of electing presidents from the political left.

By coincidence it was a subsidiary of ChoicePoint Jeb Bush engaged in 2000 to illegally “purge” more than 56,000 voters, the vast majority black and poor, from Florida’s voter rolls. A maneuver which would ultimately give George Bush the US presidency by just 537 ballots.

After reading Palast’s report, Chavez moved swiftly to establish a virtually tamper-proof electoral system. In Venezuela every voter gets TWO ballots. One is electronic; the second is a paper print-out of the touch-screen ballot, which the voter reviews, authorizes and places in a locked ballot-box. Fifty-four percent of the boxes are opened at random and checked against the computer tally – making the system virtually tamper proof.

When Maduro’s opponent Henrique Capriles officially challenged the recent outcome, he was allowed to add as many precincts as he wanted (12,000) to this automatic audit.

It would appear the US State Department doesn’t have a leg to stand on in backing opposition claims that Maduro’s win is fraudulent. Thus, according to Palast, they have turned to another old CIA trick, violent street demonstrations protesting the electoral outcome. He points out that most, but not all, of the voters killed in street protests are Chavistas.

photo credit: sterno_inferno via photopin cc