July 17, 2005
HUGO CHAVEZ UPDATE: The dead are risen in Venezuela -- to vote!
Henri Charrière, the convict who vividly recalled his multiple escape bids from the disease-ridden penal colony of French Guiana in the novel Papillon, has been found “alive” in Venezuela, 32 years after his reported death. Or so Venezuela's electoral register would have you believe.
Politicians in Venezuela have complained that the official voter list contains thousands of deceased voters, an irregularity that, if abused by unscrupulous election officials, could distort the result of polls.
“Why is there such a big fear of undertaking an audit of the electoral register?” asks Alejandro Plaz, spokesman for Sumate, which lobbies for transparency and participation in elections.
Now, the discovery that Mr Charrière, who died in 1973, is eligible to cast a ballot in local elections in August looks certain to amplify such concerns about the inadequacy of Venezuela's electoral system.