Venezuela Supreme Court rejects recount … before anyone asks
posted at 9:21 am on April 18, 2013 by Ed Morrissey
Americans often get frustrated by the lengthy process of dealing with legal disputes in the US. It can take years to adjudicate lawsuits, only to then wait for years longer while appeals work their way through to the Supreme Court. If our lengthy process annoys you, then you’ll love Venezuela. In that country, the Supreme Court rules without being asked — especially for its buddies in the Chavez regime:
Even before any legal motion was filed, the pro-government head of Venezuela’s Supreme Court on Wednesday slapped down demands for a recount of the hotly contested presidential election that gave a narrow victory to Hugo Chavez’s acolyte, Nicolas Maduro.
It was another blow to efforts to challenge Maduro’s win and comes as opposition members say they also fear a wave of political and legal repression. …
Luisa Estela Morales, president of the Venezuela Supreme Court, said during a news conference Wednesday that it was impossible to conduct a ballot-by-ballot recount because the voting system is automated. “Those who have been thinking this could happen were fooling themselves,” she said.
She made her comments even though the opposition had not formally filed a petition for a recount.
Er … shouldn’t automated counting make recounts easier? One of the issues raised by Henrique Capriles in his demand for a recount were the 370,000 “null” ballots counted, which outstripped Maduro’s electoral lead of 262,000. A hand recount of the ballots would at least allow for some determination of whether those ballots didn’t get counted properly by the automated system, or had been tampered with in order to prevent their being counted. If nothing else, running the ballots through the system again would allow for a recheck of the first machine count.
And why did Morales issue a ruling without being asked?
Chavez, a rather flamboyant populist leader of Venezuela since 1999, died of cancer March 5, but not before loading key state institutions, such as the electoral tribunal and the Supreme Court, with his supporters. …
It was Morales who issued a perplexing ruling last month that allowed Maduro to assume the presidency immediately upon Chavez’s death, a controversial decision that critics said sidestepped the constitution and was aimed at making his election a fait accompli.
Yesterday, John Kerry called for a recount in his testimony to the House Foreign Affairs Committee:
“We think there ought to be a recount,” Kerry told the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Capitol Hill, but added, “I don’t know whether it’s going to happen.”
Kerry also told the House panel he had not yet determined if Washington would recognize Maduro’s victory as legitimate.
In response, Maduro called Kerry’s demand “obscene”:
“It’s obscene the U.S. intervention in the internal affairs of Venezuela,” Maduro said at the Miraflores presidential palace.
“Take your eyes off Venezuela, John Kerry. Get out of here. Enough interventionism,” he said.
Of the possibility Washington might not recognize his election, Maduro said: “We don’t care about your recognition. We have decided to be free and we will be free and independent, with you or without you.”
Obscene? Sounds like a case of projection. Don’t expect the White House to remain firm on this, though. Barack Obama didn’t pick John Kerry as Secretary of State as a show of strength and determination in American foreign policy.