December  4, 1998

The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), César Gaviria, will be in Caracas, Venezuela, on Sunday, December 6, to head the OAS electoral observation mission invited there by the government of Venezuela and the National Electoral Council.

The OAS mission of some 70 observers began its work around the country a week ago. The team is comprised of men and women from 19 OAS countries: Argentina, Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Spain (observer country), United States, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, Dominican Republic, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and Uruguay. Election monitors were assigned to 11 regions, with headquarters in Caracas and offices in Los Teques, San Fernando, Barinas, Maracaibo, Barquisimeto, Valencia, Cumaná, Puerto La Cruz, Cuidad Bolívar and Mérida.

The work of the observers, who will cover all states and the Federal District, is similar to the work they did during the regional elections held on November 8. They involve ongoing contact with electoral officials, political parties, representatives of the Armed Forces and citizens. Complaints and accusations filed with the OAS mission will be transmitted to the electoral authorities and closely monitored and followed-up. An analysis of the ballot count system and a projection of the voting trends are also expected during these elections.

The mission was backed with technical and financial support from the governments of Canada and the United States. The OAS, in the last few years, has monitored over 40 elections in some 15 countries.