CARACAS, Saturday May 14, 2005 | Update
This simple display shows the voter's political preferences and address as registered at the National Electoral Council (CNE). Who authorized display of people's addresses? (Photo: Archive)
As he views himself as the champion of the fight against political discrimination, government deputy Luis Tascón needs to make a renewed effort to find some of the thousand laptops in which he installed a peculiar application -called Maisanta- probably known by many government advocates.
Here is a guidance just to help the parliamentarian. Those machines were allotted to the pro-government Electoral Task Forces (UBE), funded by state oil holding Petróleos de Venezuela (Pdvsa) -now the company of all Venezuelans. The application has a comprehensive database -the database of the National Electoral Council (CNE)- in addition to the list of the people who requested the recall referendum against President Hugo Chávez, government and opposition deputies, and it also includes the recipients of government missions.
By virtue thereof, the ignominious, still unburied Tascón's roll is just an appendix, the top of the iceberg concerning the advantageous handling of voting information by government supporters with the involvement of CNE people. Also, it is a clear evidence of potential social segregation, discrimination, segmentation, or whatever. You are the enemy and we are the fellow citizens.
I know what you are doing
The whole package is called Battle of Santa Inés, Version 1.10. Maisanta is the executable embedded in the computer hard disk. This version contains the Standing Electoral Record (REP) updated by March 2004. Dangerously, it includes the addresses supplied by voters when registering at CNE or updating their data to exercise the right to vote. A few telephone numbers are included.
If our Pdvsa provided 14,000 laptops to the elections and the program was designed precisely to handle proprietary information, it can be concluded that the names, identity card numbers, physical addresses and, of course, whether individuals signed for or against President Chávez and even telephone numbers can be found in each one of these 14,000 computers available without the need to enter Internet. Who has the laptops? Who knows? Does pro-government electoral taskforce Maisanta Command know it?
As the program is easy to replicate and can be encapsulated in one single CD, who can ensure that the data is not being used right know by organized crime?
The executable Maisanta that triggers the program enables the location of any individual registered at REP using both the identity card number and full name. It also pools the "patriots" at every voting station, i.e.: those who did not sign against the leader but did sign against some opposition deputy.
The way of recording the home and voting station addresses is clear enough. It is the same terminology and abbreviations used by CNE. Tascón's story, according to which NGO Súmate had sold the database containing the signatures, comes down in the face of this evidence and also because no form containing the signatures in favor of the recall referendum requested the home address. Does Sumáte, by any chance, handle the missions' secret lists?
It's not my fault
All this points to the main character in this irregular supply of information -Mr. Jorge Rodríguez' CNE, and also the show superstar, comrade Tascón.
A package file provides information on the "free-use system" including "REP records as of March 2004. Also the identity card numbers of deceased and voters filed at REP." Furthermore, it refers to a source: "For future versions of this program visit our website at www.luistascon.com."
The Battle of Santa Inés program "is a computer system that collects in a single database all the information needed for voting. Because of its ongoing development, new functions and information from a number of databases are included daily in order to have a thorough understanding of the voting scene, including states, municipalities, parishes and voting stations."
Also, "It is intended for consultation by individuals, groups of citizens from a voting station or any community. It keeps the mission and vision of the Battle of Santa Inés."
There is no information available on the authors of such a strategic tool. "A team of skilled, expert professionals in the area of computer information volunteered to develop this system (program and data bases)."
But clearly enough, the site provides information on delivery and use of copies. "Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Telephone: 0212-238.8025. 0414-380.6517 (Francisco Marín). 0414 304.2457 (Desirée)."
The telephone number belongs to the civic non-profit organization New Neighborhood, where the Electoral Task Forces (UBE) were trained. However, they denied handling of any information about the program. It seems that "Desirée's" mobile phone does not work, but Francisco Marín himself answers to his phone. Marín acknowledged that he was an UBE member and clarified that he was just a trainer. And he maintains: "I am not related at all to the authors or distributors. I was just an assistant. It was developed at Maisanta Command and distributed in the UBE's. It is not used anymore. In addition, many people had the database. It is available to everyone. At that moment, all political organizations used it." All of them?
Translated by Conchita Delgado
02:57 PM. HEAVY RAINS. Venezuelan Executive Vice-President Elias Jaua reported that the government is designing plans to support farmers, cattlemen and peasants of the state of Mérida who have been hit by heavy rains that have caused crop losses.