The Tascón List is a list of the signatures of those who petitioned in 2003 and 2004 for the recall of the President of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, a petition which ultimately led to the Venezuelan recall referendum, 2004, in which the recall was defeated. Before and after the referendum there were accusations that the list, published online by National Assembly member Luis Tascón as part of the verification of signatures, was being used by the government to discriminate against the petitioners. The government also claimed some private firms were using the list to discriminate in favour of petitioners.
A signature collection drive was launched initially in mid-2003. On 17 October 2003, President Chavez said on Aló Presidente that "those who sign against Chavez are signing against their country" and "against the future", and added, whoever signs the recall referendum "will remain registered in history, because is going to have to put his name, his last name, his signature, his ID number and his fingerprint."
In February 2004, on the TV program Aló Presidente 180, President Chávez announced that he had signed a document asking the National Electoral Council (CNE) to provide copies of all the signatures of the petitioners for the referendum, in order to expose the opposition's "mega fraud". Due to a lack of funds on the part of the CNE, Luis Tascón, a representative of the ruling party in the legislature, led the collection of photocopies of the signatures.
Tascón subsequently published on his website a database of the more than 2,400,000 Venezuelans who had signed the petition, together with their national identity card numbers (cédula). Tascón's actions were condemned by both the National Electoral Council and by Marisol Plaza, the Chief Public Prosecutor. Tascon said he posted the list in order to support the verification of signatures, saying that publication of the list provided a way for those who appeared on it, but had not signed, to register a complaint with the CNE. Tascon later said that the source of the list was not the CNE, but an unidentified ex-head of Sumate, which had collected the signatures. Tascon said he had bought the list for several thousand US dollars.
On 20 April 2004 the CNE itself published a list of signers, and created a website where signers could determine the status of their signature (accepted, rejected, or in need of verification).
Use of list
Once the list was posted, Chávez, on a Venezolana de Televisión broadcast, encouraged use of the website to verify illicit use of national identity cards. Roger Capella, Minister of Health and Social Development declared that "those who signed against President Chávez would be fired because they are committing an act of terrorism". There was a public outcry, in particular by the organization Súmate, and because of reports that people who worked for the government were fired, denied work, or denied issuance of official documents because of their appearance on the list. In July 2004, access to the database was granted to members of the "Batallones Bolivarianos (BBI) por Internet (Internet Bolivarian Battalions)" which previously had to register on Tascón's website to gain access under the strict requisite that they had not signed the petition for the referendum.
Burying the list
Luis Tascon later removed the list from his website, after widespread accusations that it was being used to discriminate against those who had signed the petition, noting that it was a crime to "persecute" people for signing.
On 16 April 2005 Chávez declared the "Tascón List must be archived and buried" and continued "I say that, because I keep receiving some letters, among the many I get, that make me think that still in some places they have the Tascón List on their tables to determine if somebody is going to work or not".
A case was opened on the Venezuelan Supreme Court against Tascón in May 2005. However, Luis Tascón had parliamentary immunity as an active member of the National Assembly and could not be tried as long as he was in office.
In March 2006, three former government employees introduced a case against the Chávez administration at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, arguing that José Vicente Rangel, the country's vice president, ordered their dismissal because their names appeared on the Tascón List and, therefore, were victims of discrimination for political reasons. The court ruled that the employees were under contract, and the government has the right to cancel its contracts.
- El Universal, 17 October 2003, "El que firme contra Chávez está firmando contra la patria"
- Rojas, Alfredo (2004), "Chávez espera copia de planillas para mostrar fraude en cadena", El Universal
- Chávez, Hugo (2004), "Aló Presidente 180", Ministerio de Comunicación e Información de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela
- "Tascón: Comenzó fotocopiado de planillas de la oposición", El Universal, 2004
- El Universal, 21 April 2005, Tascón: Alto jefe de Súmate vendió la lista por miles de dólares
- El Universal, 21 March 2004, (Spanish) "Firmar contra Chávez es un acto de terrorismo"
- Chavez's Blacklist of Venezuelan Opposition Intimidates Voters
- Malinarich, Nathalie (27 November 2006). "Venezuela: A nation divided". BBC News. Retrieved 10 January 2010.
- Morales Flores, Miyeilis (2004), ""Diputado Tascón inició registro de Batallones Bolivarianos por Internet"", Gobierno Bolivariano de Venezuela-Radio Nacional de Venezuela
- El Universal, 16 April 2005, (Spanish) Chávez exigió enterrar "la famosa lista" del diputado Luis Tascón
- El Universal, 20 May 2005, (Spanish) Tascón dispuesto a acudir al TSJ
- Lopez, Edgar (2006), "La lista Tascón llegó a la CIDH", El Universal