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Editorials: Venezuela’s Threatened Elections | The New York Times

Late last month, President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela said that in the event of a defeat for his party in December’s legislative election, he would “not hand over the revolution.” That outcome, he warned, would force him to govern “with the people in a civil-military union.” That message is disturbing. Mr. Maduro appears to be suggesting that if his ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela takes a beating at the ballot box on Dec. 6, as polls predict, he will render the legislative branch toothless. As his support base has dwindled in recent years, Mr. Maduro’s government has arbitrarily prosecuted political opponents and unfairly disqualified opposition leaders from running for office. He gerrymandered voting districts to give his party a leg up and sought to shore up popular support by picking fights with two neighbors, Guyana and Colombia.

Full Article: Venezuela's Threatened Elections - The New York Times.

Haiti: Haiti election results a distant reality | South Florida Times

Haiti’s voters have spoken. But nobody’s quite sure what they’ve said. Even tentative results of Sunday’s presidential election likely won’t be known for at least 10 days, despite the fact that the election, which involved 54 presidential candidates and tens of thousands of contenders for other races, went unusually smoothly. Few places in the world take longer to give citizens any hint of who won an election. One reason is that it’s against the law for results to be released by anyone other than the Provisional Electoral Council, whose members are replaced every election cycle. “A lot of the learning that is accrued every time they go through an election process seems to be lost,” said Kenneth Merten, Haiti special coordinator for the U.S. State Department and a former U.S. ambassador to the country.

Full Article: Haiti election results a distant reality | South Florida Times.

Haiti: Haiti faces long wait for results of presidential election | Associated Press

Haiti’s voters have spoken. But nobody’s quite sure what they’ve said. Even tentative results of Sunday’s presidential election likely won’t be known for at least 10 days, despite the fact that the election, which involved 54 presidential candidates and tens of thousands of contenders for other races, went unusually smoothly. Few places in the world take longer to give citizens any hint of who won an election. One reason is that it’s against the law for results to be released by anyone other than the Provisional Electoral Council, whose members are replaced every election cycle. “A lot of the learning that is accrued every time they go through an election process seems to be lost,” said Kenneth Merten, Haiti special coordinator for the U.S. State Department and a former U.S. ambassador to the country.

Full Article: Haiti faces long wait for results of presidential election.

Haiti: Haiti elects a president – but nobody knows for sure who voters chose | The Guardian

Haiti’s voters have spoken. But nobody’s quite sure what they’ve said. Even tentative results of Sunday’s presidential election likely won’t be known for at least 10 days, despite the election, which involved 54 presidential candidates and tens of thousands of contenders for other races, going unusually smoothly. Few places in the world take longer to give citizens any hint of who won an election. One reason is that it’s against the law for results to be released by anyone other than the Provisional Electoral Council, whose members are replaced every election cycle. “A lot of the learning that is accrued every time they go through an election process seems to be lost,” said Kenneth Merten, Haiti special coordinator for the US State Department and a former US ambassador to the country.

Full Article: Haiti elects a president – but nobody knows for sure who voters chose | World news | The Guardian.

Haiti: OAS: Irregularities did not disrupt overall Haiti elections | Associated Press

An international mission that monitored legislative elections in Haiti said Monday that there were scattered problems with violence and other disruptions during Sunday’s first round but not enough to disrupt the legitimacy of the overall vote. The Organization of American States had 28 observers monitoring Sunday elections that saw Haitians choose lawmakers for the next Parliament in a contest that was delayed for nearly four years. They visited 171 of more than 1,500 voting centers across the country of 10 million people. 

Full Article: OAS: Irregularities did not disrupt overall Haiti elections - US News.

El Salvador: ‘The Most Complex Elections’ Since the Signing of the Peace Accords | NACLA

It is already past midnight in Nejapa, El Salvador. Poll workers at the Jose Matías Delgado School voting center, exhausted after having arrived at 5 am, are still arguing over how to fill out the new count sheets introduced for this year’s electoral process. Scenes just like this were repeated all across El Salvador during the March 1st elections. Salvadorans took to the polls in relative calm to cast their ballot for mayors, National Legislative Assembly representatives and Central American Parliament (PARLACEN) legislators. Delayed openings, allegations of vote buying in rural areas and isolated confrontations between voters or poll staff did little to impede the active exercise of suffrage throughout the country. The process was declared broadly transparent by visiting international observation delegations, including that of the Organization of American States (OAS).

Full Article: ‘The Most Complex Elections’ Since the Signing of the Peace Accords | NACLA.

El Salvador: Voters head to the polls in El Salvador to elect legislators, mayors | The Tico Times

Salvadorans go to the polls on Sunday to elect new legislators and local officials in a tight contest between the ruling Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front, FMLN, and the conservative Nationalist Republican Alliance, ARENA, for control of the Legislative Assembly. Voters in El Salvador will also elect 262 new mayors, some 3,000 municipal council members and 20 country representatives for the Central American Parliament. For the first time, voters will be able to select individual candidates from any party rather than being forced to vote for a single party with an established list of candidates. Voters can still opt to simply choose a party.

Full Article: Voters head to the polls in El Salvador to elect legislators, mayors — The Tico Times.

Honduras: The Perils of Democracy: Honduran Election Aftermath | PanAm Post

One week after the general elections in Honduras, an environment of disagreement and uncertainty prevails in the Central American country — one of the poorest, most insecure, and corrupt in the region. The Supreme Electoral Tribunal of this country has already proclaimed a victor: Juan Orlando Hernández of Partido Nacional, who was elected with 36.8 percent of the popular vote. However, in second place, just a mere 250,000 votes away, we have the new socialist party, LIBRE, with Xiomara Castro de Zelaya as the candidate. She is not accepting the results, and LIBRE has denounced electoral fraud and already carried out several peaceful protests. The truly remarkable result of this election, though, is the end of two-party dominance in a country where it prevailed for more than 30 years. This came after the fragmentation of one of the traditional parties, the Partido Liberal de Honduras. With the newly created LIBRE party offshoot in second place, the ideological spectrum of options available to the electorate amplified, and political forces reconfigured. Never in the history of this country has a presidential election been so close or competitive with the results, in both percentage-points and votes counted. As a consequence, the incumbent party’s control of Congress will not be as high as it has been in the past. Instead, the newly elected president, facing almost 65 percent opposition, will have to manage a divided parliament, and most likely a president of the Unicameral Congress that does not belong to Partido Nacional.

Full Article: The Perils of Democracy: Honduran Election Aftermath.

Honduras: Candidate Makes Case for Election Fraud | Associated Press

The opposition presidential candidate in last week’s elections in Honduras is citing allegedly altered tally sheets, ballots cast by dead or absent people, and inadequate monitoring of polling stations in her bid to have a recount of a vote she calls fraudulent. Xiomara Castro’s call for her supporters to pour out in the streets to demand a vote-by-vote recount of last Sunday’s election threatens further political instability for this poor Central American country. Castro’s husband, former President Manuel Zelaya, was ousted in a 2009 coup that left the country polarized. Honduras’ electoral court has declared conservative Juan Orlando Hernandez, of the ruling National Party, the election winner. The court says he received 37 percent of the votes compared to 29 percent for Castro, with 96 percent of the votes counted. Six other candidates shared the remaining votes. 

Full Article: Honduras Candidate Makes Case for Election Fraud - ABC News.

Honduras: Competing presidential claim victory | The Washington Post

After a day of relatively trouble-free voting in a tight race, Honduras appeared headed for a new political showdown late Sunday, as competing presidential candidates began claiming victory with less than half of the ballots counted. Leftist Xiomara Castro de ­­Ze­laya, the wife of deposed former president Manuel “Mel” Zelaya, declared herself the “new president of Honduras” even as preliminary tallies showed her conservative rival, Juan Orlando Hernán­dez, with a lead of at least five percentage points over Castro, followed by six other candidates. Hernán­dez told his supporters that he was the country’s new leader and that he was already receiving calls from several Latin American heads of state to congratulate him. The vote count was expected to stretch late into the night, with many here anxious that a close, contested election could toss the troubled country askew once more.

Full Article: After Honduras vote, competing presidential claim victory - The Washington Post.

Paraguay: OAS denounces violations in Paraguay’s presidential elections | Xinhua

Electoral violations had been detected in Paraguay’s presidential elections that put millionaire businessman Horacio Cartes in power, the Organization of American States (OAS) said Monday. Oscar Arias, head of a mission sent by the OAS to observe the presidential elections, told a press conference that members of his delegation witnessed “vote buying” at some polling stations and the “roundup” of indigenous groups before they were taken to the polls. Both represented “serious electoral violations,” said Arias, a former Costa Rican president and Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

Full Article: OAS denounces violations in Paraguay's presidential elections - Xinhua | English.news.cn.

Ecuador: OAS will send observers to the February 17 general elections in Ecuador | MercoPress

The Organization of American States will be sending observers to the coming presidential and legislative elections in Ecuador next month and to that effect OAS and Ecuador signed the agreement on the Privileges and Immunities of Observers which provides the conditions for the work of the Electoral Observation Mission. The agreement was signed by OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza and the Permanent Representative of Ecuador to the hemispheric body, María Isabel Salvador. Insulza expressed satisfaction at the signing of the document and said that “it is an honour to accompany, once again, Ecuador, its authorities, its political actors and its citizens in the exercise of a fundamental right for democracy.”

Full Article: OAS will send observers to the February 17 general elections in Ecuador — MercoPress.

Venezuela: Why the voting is more trustworthy than the polling | guardian.co.uk

Polling – or perhaps more importantly, the abuse of polling data – has a checkered history in Venezuela. I will never forget the day of the presidential recall referendum in 2004. I was sitting in the BBC studio in Washington, between a TV and radio interview, and the fax machine spat out a release from what was then one of the most influential Democratic polling and consulting firms in the United States: Penn, Schoen, Berland and Associates. “Exit Poll Results Show Major Defeat for Chavez” was the headline. The agency claimed to have interviewed an enormous sample (more than 20,000 voters at 267 voting centers), and found that Chávez had been voted out of office by a margin of 59% to 41%. I looked up at the producer who gave me the fax with more than a bit of perplexity. With good reason: the actual result of the referendum was the opposite: 58% to 41% against the recall. The Organization of American States and the Carter Center observed the election and made it clear that there was no doubt that the results were clean. Given the actual vote, the probability of the variation in PSB’s result was less than 1 chance in 10 to the 490th power, if you can imagine something that unlikely. The producer put the press release aside. “I’m not doing anything with this unless there’s another source,” she said.

Full Article: Venezuela election: why the voting is more trustworthy than the polling | Mark Weisbrot | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk.

Venezuela: The Venezuelan Election Deserves Our Attention | Forbes

There is a crucial election about to take place in Venezuela. Basic issues of freedom and economic liberty are at stake for the Venezuelan people. And with Venezuela being both our largest oil provider and a chief anti-American aggressor with alliances in Iran, Syria and Russia amongst others, this election is not only critical for us but much more so than policymakers in DC have acknowledged or realized. Democratic challenger Henrique Capriles could surely change the direction of the Venezuela. He is poised to serve as a much-needed positive force in shaping Venezuela’s future as a cooperative member of the international community if he is elected on October 7th. The head of Venezuela’s oil workers union, the United Federation of Oil Workers, said just yesterday that his members are not even entertaining the idea of a Chavez defeat. “It is impossible for Capriles to win this year…We the working class will not allow it.”

Full Article: The Venezuelan Election Deserves Our Attention - Forbes.

Venezuela: Carter Centre absent as observer from Venezuelan October presidential election | MercoPress

The Carter Centre was among the organizations that sent observer missions to monitor Venezuela’s last presidential vote in 2006, along with the European Union and the Organization of American States. Venezuelan electoral authorities have since stopped inviting full international observer missions and have instead asked some foreign individuals to witness voting in smaller-scale “accompaniment” visits. The Carter Centre said in a statement that the council invited it to “form an intermediate option” and send a small group of experts to join in pre-election audits and be present on voting day.

Full Article: Carter Centre absent as observer from Venezuelan October presidential election — MercoPress.

Belize: OAS highlights Belize election concerns: Barrow responds | Belize News

Ambassador Frank Almaguer, chief of the Organization of American States’ (OAS’s) Elections Observer Mission, said Thursday that Belize’s dual (municipal and general) elections of Wednesday, March 7, 2012, were “a peaceful exercise of [the voting] franchise,” and the general elections was “a historically close election and certainly highly competitive.” However, in a report to Belize media Thursday, Almaguer pointed to a number of key election issues, such as the use of government assets for electioneering, the lack of female inclusion on the ballot, the lack of campaign finance legislation, and electioneering very close to the polls on election day.

Full Article: Belize News - Belize Leading Newspaper | Breaking News - Amandala Online.

Nicaragua: U.S. remains stringent on Nicaragua over election | CNN.com

The United States will continue to give “aggressive scrutiny” to aid loans made to Nicaragua in light of reported irregularities in the country’s presidential election, the U.S. State Department says. Nicaragua’s November elections “were not conducted in a transparent and impartial manner,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a statement. “The elections marked a setback to democracy in Nicaragua and undermined the ability of Nicaraguans to hold their government accountable.” With 64% of the vote, Daniel Ortega won his second consecutive term and third presidential term overall. Nicaragua’s constitution bars presidents from being re-elected, but that did not stop Ortega from running in his sixth straight presidential race.

Full Article: U.S. remains stringent on Nicaragua over election - CNN.com.

Nicaragua: Observers decry vote irregularities as Nicaragua’s Ortega seeks new term | MiamiHerald.com

Observers from the European Union and the Organization of American States reported Sunday that they had detected serious irregularities in voting in what is expected to be a re-election victory for Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega. Ortega, a onetime leftist guerrilla leader and acolyte of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, is seeking his third term in office despite the Nicaraguan Constitution’s ban on presidents serving consecutive terms.

Voting was marred by scattered violence, including reports of gunfire that wounded four people near the coffee-growing city of Matagalpa and arson attacks on several rural precincts. Elsewhere, voting occurred without incident as Nicaragua’s 3.4 million voters aged 16 and older cast ballots for president, vice president and 90 deputies of the National Assembly. Even so, chiefs of the two major international observer teams in Nicaragua for the election voiced deep reservations about how the vote was conducted.

Full Article: Observers decry vote irregularities as Nicaragua's Ortega seeks new term - World Wires - MiamiHerald.com.

Guatemala: OAS notes high turnout in Guatemala elections; expresses concern over slow delivery of results | Caribbean News Now

The secretary general of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, said on Monday that “beyond the difficulties and problems, the Guatemalan people have been able to express their will. We hope that the runoff election is carried out in a climate of peace and cooperation between the different sectors of the country.”

The OAS Electoral Observation Mission (EOM/OAS), headed by former Ambassador Jose Octavio Bordon, noted the punctual opening of polling locations by the designated poll workers. It also stressed the high level of participation by Guatemalan citizens who had significant access to helpful voter information, ultimately facilitating the electoral process.

Full Article: Caribbean News Now!: OAS notes high turnout in Guatemala elections; expresses concern over slow delivery of results.

Guatemala: Candidates head for runoff in Guatemalan presidential election | CNN.com

The two top candidates in Guatemala’s presidential race are headed for a runoff after tallies Monday revealed neither had secured enough votes to win the election. Otto Perez Molina, a retired army general who pledged to take a tough stand on crime, garnered the most votes in Sunday’s elections.

With almost all of the ballots counted Monday night, Perez Molina had 36% of votes — far short of the more than 50% needed to win outright. His closest competitor, businessman Manuel Baldizon, had 23% of votes, said Guatemala’s election authority.

Observers from the Organization of American States criticized Guatemalan election officials’ apparent disorganization and slow vote-counting after Sunday’s election, the state-run AGN news agency reported. The watchdogs said they hoped the process would improve in the second round of voting, scheduled for November 6.

Full Article: Candidates head for runoff in Guatemalan presidential election - CNN.com.