Fraud Talk Falling On Deaf Ears

The Venezuelan opposition to Chavez doesn't seem to be finding very many receptive listeners for their whining this morning. Witness, for instance, the reaction of the oil market to news of Chavez's victory:

Oil prices today eased back from a run of record highs after Venezuela's Hugo Chávez, declared victory in a national referendum on his presidency.

As the prospect of political uncertainly in the world's fifth largest oil-producing country receded, the cost of a barrel of crude peaked at a 21-year high of $46.91 (£25.43) in New York before dipping back to $46.21.

More damning, even the Miami Herald (!) gives the fraud talk a sad air of sour grapes and simple denial:

Haydee Deutsch, an opposition leader, said fraud had been committed and that the opposition "has no doubt that we won by an overwhelming majority."

At the opposition headquarters in Caracas, opponents watching the Carrasquero's announcement on television shouted "Fraud! Fraud!"

"This is impossible to swallow," said Jesus Torrealba, another opposition leader.

Only Jason Webb at Reuters takes the lonely stand of giving the opposition any kind of solid platform:

According to National Electoral Council President Francisco Carrasquero, Chavez won backing from 58 percent of voters with 94 percent of electoral rolls counted in the referendum on whether to recall him before his term ends.

But the opposition said on Monday it had won by almost the same margin and called the official results a fraud engineered through the use of electronic voting machines.

"We firmly and categorically reject the result ... we're going to collect the evidence to prove to Venezuela and the world the gigantic fraud which has been committed against the will of the people," a senior opposition leader, Henry Ramos Allup, told a news conference.

He said the opposition, a loose coalition of political parties, unions and business groups united by their distaste for Chavez, would ask international organisations to investigate.

International observers, including former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, praised proceedings as voting got underway on Sunday but have still to give their final verdict on the referendum.

Perhaps most tellingly of all, though, is the fact that other than on the business pages, the Venezuelan referendum has, at the moment, all but vanished from Google News' radar.

It's early yet, and the winds may yet change direction, but the message seems to be, "It's over. Time to move on."

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About Erik Siegrist