Media Center

Press Release


  August 18, 2004

The Electoral Observation Mission of the Organization of American States would like to issue the following statement in connection with its observation of the Venezuelan presidential referendum held on August 15, 2004:

The National Electoral Council (CNE) provided the Observation Mission, from the official start of its activities, with appropriate facilities for carrying out its work.

There were three phases in the electoral observation activities: prior to, during, and after the actual voting.

In the period prior to the presidential referendum, the Electoral Observation Mission of the OAS made internal arrangements for its work; held numerous meetings with CNE officials; met the principal political players; and participated in audits and trial runs of the equipment and procedures to be used in the voting. As far as the Mission's observers could see, the electronic voting and data transmission system was adequately checked and found to be suitable for guaranteeing both the secrecy and accuracy of the voting and the transparency of the process.

On the day of the poll, the observers detected some problems and difficulties, above all of an organizational nature. However, these snags were overcome. Delays encountered in several polling stations were essentially due to two factors: lack of familiarity of polling officers and technical staff of the electoral body, and of the voters themselves, with the new voting system; and the large volume of voters, which stretched the capacity of the infrastructure available. In the course of the day, these difficulties were dealt with satisfactorily.

The Mission found that citizens participating in the referendum did so freely, without hindrance or restrictions on the expression of their will.

At a joint press conference with former President Jimmy Carter in Caracas, on the afternoon of August 16, Secretary General César Gaviria acknowledged that the partial results announced by the National Electoral Council (CNE) a few hours earlier were compatible with the internal verifications carried out by the Electoral Observation Mission of the OAS for the Referendum in Venezuela.

The Mission thus ascertained that the majority of voters chose not to recall the mandate of President Hugo Chávez Frías.

The Electoral Observation Mission is currently at the final stage of its work, conducting post-referendum activities.

The Mission wishes to convey, most emphatically, its admiration and respect for the enormous public spirit shown by the Venezuelan people, who went en masse, in a peaceful and orderly manner, to the polling stations to exercise their democratic right to express their political will.

Reference: E-130/04