Media Center



  December 1, 2003

CARACAS-Now that the signature collection process for the recall referenda has been concluded, the Joint Mission of the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Carter Center wishes to express its gratitude for the warm welcome it has received and for the confidence placed in its observers by the Venezuelan people, and for the collaboration of the governmental and electoral authorities, the representatives of the various political and civil society organizations, and the members of the Armed Forces.

The Mission, composed of more than 50 international observers deployed in 20 of the 24 states of the country, wishes to share the impressions gathered throughout the entire process.

In general, the Mission would like to highlight the cordiality and cooperation with which the Venezuelans have carried out this process, and the notable demonstrations of civic pride and of democratic coexistence, whether through registering signatures in the different centers or through respecting the right of others to express their opinions. The Mission informs the country with great satisfaction that the process was completed peacefully and without major obstacles that would have impeded the free exercise of constitutional rights.

The CNE and the different groups engaged in the organization and the supervision of the signature collection demonstrated their capacity to carry this process out in accordance with the principles of transparency and integrity, reaffirming the legitimacy and credibility that these electoral institutions enjoy in Venezuelan society. In the same way, the political forces and civil society organizations reaffirmed their commitment to constitutional processes, adhering to the norms established for the exercising of this right.

The armed forces carried out their task in a professional manner, guaranteeing the security of the process. In cases where difficulties were observed, they were resolved satisfactorily with the approval of the groups involved.

With respect to the process this past weekend, our observers’ reports indicated it was generally carried out in an orderly fashion and without major difficulties. The logistics and organization were adequate, the members of the centers carried out their duties thoroughly, and all of the centers received the material to allow them to operate. In the cases of those centers that ran out of forms, the citizens were appropriately redirected to other signature collection points, which allowed for full participation in the process.

Although our observers reported individual acts of intimidation or violence, those who came to register their signatures in the approved centers did not have any difficulty expressing their will. The complaints received by the Mission about some of these occurrences have been investigated and forwarded to the CNE, which has processed them in a diligent and effective manner.

The Mission has watched with discomfort some recent public declarations that could detract from the credibility of the current process. The Mission considers that such declarations, when the signature collection had still not been completed, affected the climate of democratic coexistence during the process.

In this sense, the Mission wishes to reiterate, as all participants in the process have done up to this point, that the only power with the capacity to dismiss or resolve the accusations is the CNE, which up to now has demonstrated its impartiality and capacity to confer legitimacy and transparency on this process. As a result, the Mission urges those involved to submit any complaints, concerns or uncertainties they may have about the process to the jurisdiction of the CNE.

As already mentioned, the Mission is evaluating with the authorities of the CNE how it might aid the CNE in the verification process.

Finally, the Mission declares that it will remain in the country while waiting for the start of the verification of the forms presented by the government and the opposition.

Javier Montes OAS, [email protected]
Kay Torrance, The Carter Center, 404-420-5129,

Reference: VE-12-01I