Take this quote from a story in the Financial Times, for example:
“Conspiracy theories within the opposition camp are going into overdrive,” said one diplomat in Caracas. “Some have even mentioned the idea of a plot between Carter, Gaviria and the CIA to keep world oil prices down.”
Or this from a New Republic article just out:
Late Monday night, 19 hours after the results in this week's referendum on Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez were reported, opposition leader Carlos Hermoso was furiously spinning a conspiracy theory. Despite results endorsed by international observers that showed Chávez winning by a landslide 16 percentage points, Hermoso said that "massive fraud" had been committed by both the election observers and the electronic voting machines used here for the first time. In a complicated yarn, Hermoso claimed that touch-screen voting machines in which people could vote "Yes" to oust Chávez or "No" to keep him were expertly manipulated" by the government. Though there had also been a paper trail recording each voter's choice, Hermoso said the papers had been kidnapped and are now under military custody in a building called the "White Rabbit." But Hermoso warned that hard evidence of such fraud will be "very difficult" to find. As for the stamp of approval offered by election observers like Jimmy Carter, Hermoso argued that such observers were "compromised" by oil companies and the U.S. State Department, which wanted to keep Chávez in power.Meanwhile, the preliminary comments from the Carter Center on fraud, in this story in the Houston Chronicle, are telling:
The review, conducted by experts from the Atlanta-based Carter Center and the Organization of American States, found exact or nearly matching anti-Chavez vote totals on different machines in 402 stations. But the study also found nearly identical tallies in favor of Chavez in 311 voting places.
While seemingly suspicious, the incidence of parallel counts fell within the range of mathematical probability, a Carter Center official said.
"The main point here is that it affects both sides," said Jennifer McCoy of the Carter Center, the organization headed by former President Jimmy Carter that observes elections worldwide. "That indicates a random mathematical effect."