by Andres Oppenheimer
When I interviewed former President
In the past, Carter, whose Carter Center is known among other things for its international election monitoring missions, has drawn the fury of Venezuelan oppositionists by giving his blessing to several elections that were officially won by
Would Carter now approve of the results of
The Venezuelan government did not allow independent international election observers for the elections. It only allowed electoral tourists from friendly regional groups who arrived shortly before the voting.
(There is a big difference: while international observing missions monitor the entire election process over months, including how much television time candidates are given during the campaign, the visiting teams invited by
After the elections,
Capriles denounced widespread irregularities, including outdated tallies that allowed multiple voting by government sympathizers, and said that if fraudulent votes were nullified, he would be declared the winner by 400,000 votes.
Asked during the interview, which is to be aired on
"So far as I know, Maduro did get 1.5 percent more votes than his opponent, Capriles, and that has been substantiated by the recount of paper ballots."
But Carter added that
"My own belief is that the
"In the meantime, of course, Maduro is assumed to be the president, pending a final decision."
He added, "I don't know what the final result will be, but I do wish that Maduro would reach out to the other 50 percent, roughly, of the people in
Asked whether the overall election rules were fair, Carter said that Maduro had more campaign funds and enjoyed a "tremendous advantage" in television time during the campaign. Maduro followed Chavez's practice of "mandating" that television stations "follow his long speeches when his opponents are deprived of that right," he said.
He added that
My opinion: I have to confess that I have a soft spot for
But I'm intrigued by his failure in recent years to be equally supportive of pro-democracy activists and victims of government abuses in
Is it fair to call "the voting part" of an election "free and fair," when the opposition's claims of irregularities have not been fully investigated? Is it fair to separate the "voting part" of an election from the entire electoral process, when a president has a more than 10-1 advantage in television time? And if the election was clean, why didn't
To his credit, Carter is requesting an investigation into Capriles' complaints, and that Maduro reach out to the opposition.
I would only suggest to him that if he says that "the voting part" was "free and fair," he should also say in equally explicit terms that the entire electoral process was one-sided and unfair.