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Smartmatic’s bogus claims about Venezuela election

{mosads}In his piece, Mr Mugica has the incredible chutzpah of reminding readers about “intentional manipulation” occurred in Florida in 2000. Coming from someone whose entire business career has been at the helm of a company specifically created for the very clear intentional manipulation of electoral rules, this is not something that can be allowed to remain uncontested.

The only time Mr Mugica’s electronic machines have been subjected to a fully independent audit in Venezuela – Fila de Mariches, November 23, 2005, in the presence of EU and OAS electoral observers – it was demonstrated that the secrecy of votes was compromised. That has been the only, and last time, Venezuelan opposition has been allowed anywhere near a Smartmatic voting machine.

We then have the issue of the electoral roll, inflated out of all reasonable proportion, and worse, inaccessible to the opposition since 2005, thus impossible to audit. Venezuelan electoral authorities, the majority of whom have shown at one time or another their clear partisanship towards Hugo Chavez, refuse to release the roll, regardless of the fact that according to current electoral legislation it should be open, and public.

Claims by Mr Mugica of a successful track record, upon which US authorities may entertain the prospect of contracting his company’s services, are truly astonishing. Mind you, he chairs a company that refused to open up to CFIUS scrutiny, after Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney requested a probe into its ownership structure, following a spectacular electoral fiasco in Chicago  -even to that city historical standards- in 2006, at the hands of a subsidiary it had acquired: Sequoia Voting Systems. On that occasion, Smartmatic flew in a bunch of “electoral experts” from Venezuela – on tourist visas – who were meant to monitor and supervise the process. Alderman Ed Burke raised the alarm, and the rest, as they say, is history. Smartmatic “disposed” of Sequoia – though Smartmatic’s Venezuela – developed software continues to be licensed to Sequoia. Mr Mugica’s company exited the U.S. through the back door, never revealing whether or not Hugo Chavez still holds a 28% interest in it. 

Therefore, the only time Smartmatic has participated in an electoral process in the USA, it was deemed a disaster, and in the ensuing probe, it refused to collaborate with U.S. authorities. Is that track record the one Mr Mugica is banking on for new business opportunities? Or is it the ever so  fraudulent record in other countries, where it has been granted contracts in closed processes without bidding, never submitting to meaningful and independent scrutiny, like in Venezuela; or it has falsely claimed to be a Dutch company with an equally spurious “extensive record” in the provision of biometric services, like it did in Mexico City, where its bid was registered with an address of an official who was meant to be vetting the process?

Smartmatic has won over $300 million worth of contracts since 2004, mainly from unaccountable governments of underdeveloped countries, where democratic tenets, such as free and fair elections, transparency and checks and balances are completely and utterly disregarded. In that, it has been tremendously successful. No doubt. But in participating in free and transparent elections, or in opening up to the kind of scrutiny typical of truly democratic nations? Its first success is yet to take place.

Boyd created and started blogging about Venezuela in Oct. 2002. Since, he has worked as an independent researcher, reporter, lobbyist, civil and political rights activist, and has experience in strategic and media consulting throughout Latin America. In 2006, he became the first blogger ever to shadow a presidential candidate in Venezuela. In 2009 he gained a MA (merits) in Spanish American Studies (King’s College London), with focus on Venezuelan literature.


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