Although constitutionally, it would be appropriate for Venezuela to hold parliamentary elections in 2020, the conditions and democratic guarantees for free elections do not exist. In the meantime, Chavismo is preparing to go to the polls.
In May, Nicolás Maduro declared that elections would be held this year, and he is planning to establish new authorities for the National Electoral Council (CNE). Chavismo’s idea would be to try to get the international community to recognize the elections this time, and thus end the leadership of interim president Juan Guaidó.
“The dictatorship intends to organize a fraudulent parliamentary electoral process with electoral authorities controlled by the dictatorship and the collaboration of alleged ‘adversaries’ chosen and fabricated by the regime,” warned the Venezuelan opposition.
“Any electoral authority that is not appointed by the National Assembly will be rejected and disregarded by Venezuela and the democratic world,” Juan Guaidó said.
In March, when this committee was created without transparency and with irregularities, it received Maduro’s endorsement, as part of a political agreement with the Venezuelan opposition.
On Wednesday, June 10, the Chavista Supreme Court of Justice demanded that the National Assembly, with an opposition majority, hand over the list of pre-selected candidates for the National Electoral Council.
The decision was rejected by lawyer José Ignacio Hernández, appointed special prosecutor by Juan Guaidó, who stated that the Constitutional Chamber, which he considered “illegitimate,” “does not have the authority to issue any requests.”
“This type of fraud is not going to salvage electoral integrity in Venezuela,” Hernández said on Twitter.
The ruling seems to indicate that Chavismo is in a hurry to have electoral authorities and go to elections, once again without any guarantees.
According to the Organic Law of the Electoral Power in Venezuela, “the Electoral Nominations Committee is composed of twenty-one members, of which eleven are deputies appointed by the plenary of the National Assembly with two-thirds of those present, and ten will be nominated by the other sectors of society.”
Lack of transparency
The situation had become controversial in Venezuela because, besides the fact that the deputies who were part of the Committee had already been elected, the ten members representing sectors of society had now been appointed. None of these ten members should have party affiliation; however, this condition is not being fulfilled.
According to “opposition” deputy Stalin González, who is part of the Preliminary Electoral Commission, “the chosen candidates (from civil society) comply with the considerations established by law, including knowledge of electoral matters, no court convictions, not holding public office or belonging to any political organization, having graduated more than ten years ago, and being over 30 years of age.”
But González is lying. The news publication El Pitazo has compiled one by one a summary of the curricula of the supposed “members of civil society.” Several have political and party affiliations- both with Chavismo and the opposition.
Eduardo Castañeda, for example, was a member of the left-wing Causa R party; Alexis Corredor is a member of the illegitimate Chavista National Constituent Assembly; Bussy Galeano was a candidate for deputy for the Chavista United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV); Mercedes Gutiérrez is also a Chavista and a Constituent Assembly Member, as is Petra Tovar of the PSUV.
Guillermo Miquilena is a member of Democratic Action, Luis Alberto Rodríguez and Luis Serrano of Justice First, and Diana Rodríguez of the A New Era party.
The appointment of this preliminary committee was voted on to “guarantee” a free electoral process, which, according to the opposition, should be a new presidential election, but according to Chavismo, it should be a parliamentary election as it should be at the end of this year.
Many doubts remain after this selection made by the Venezuelan National Assembly. Since three deputies from Chavismo are participating, we could infer that they now recognize the Parliament with an opposition majority.
On the other hand, we can deduce that the regime is participating in this Nominations Committee to get the opposition to participate in the parliamentary elections. In other words, they are trying to legitimize the legislative elections, that according to the constitution, should be held in December this year, but under the current electoral conditions, they would only become one more election stolen by Maduro’s dictatorship. A theft with which Maduro would try to legitimize himself.
We must also remember that the incorporation of Chavista deputies to the National Assembly is an illegitimate act since they now hold a dual position. They are also members of Maduro’s illegitimate Constituent Assembly.
“It is a deception of the Venezuelan voters because now there are some members of the PSUV who pretend to say that they are deputies to the National Assembly and at the same time, they participate in floor meetings, raise their hands in the Constituent Assembly, accept the immunity of Juan Pablo Guanipa, for example, and are holding two offices,” said constitutionalist José Vicente Haro about the participation of Chavismo in the legitimate Parliament.
Haro stressed that the CNE members cannot have political ties because this violates the constitution and the law. So three of them from civil society should be nominated. “The CNE must enjoy autonomy; otherwise, we are not going to overcome unconstitutionality,” he reiterated.
According to the Magna Carta, the Citizen’s Branch made up of the Attorney General’s Office, the Comptroller General’s Office, and the Ombudsman’s Office, may propose names for the CNE. And although the CNE is in the hands of the regime, in theory, it will present the nomination of three members to be approved by the opposition Parliament.
Even if we change the members, there won’t be any electoral guarantees
As long as the Maduro regime maintains control of the majority of the public authorities and armed forces, and the criminal groups continue to protect the Bolivarian Revolution, there are no electoral guarantees that free elections will be held in the South American country to demonstrate the will of the majority.
The regime controls the Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ), which annulled the National Assembly with an opposition majority. Through its rulings, this judicial power has stolen elections just as it did in the regional elections when it took the governorship of the state of Bolivar away from the opposition.
The regime also controls the Citizen’s Power made up of the Ombudsman, the Attorney General, and the Comptroller General of the Republic. Today, they are all ruling in favor of the dictatorship.
The same happens with the Electoral Power, which not only depends on the members, but on a system that is electronically corrupted and has managed to hijack elections by altering the records, the figures, and even allowing people with a double identity or documentation to vote.
In recent years, with the help of the CNE, Maduro has emerged victorious in elections by preventing the registration of new voters, modifying the voter registry, relocating voting centers at the last minute, eliminating the use of indelible ink and fingerprint captors, violating the law by preventing the replacement of candidates on the card, and allowing the government to take advantage of the situation. Moreover, the voters were demotivated, and the figures were subsequently manipulated.
Roberto Abdul, president of the steering committee of the civil association Súmate, an NGO with technological and logistical experience in covering electoral events, told the PanAm Post that if we want transparent elections, we need to change the electoral authorities that have worked for years in favor of the Chavista regime. He also reiterated that it is fundamental to purge the Permanent Electoral Registry (REP) and to empower the political organizations that were annulled by the CNE.
We would have to eliminate the names of thousands of Venezuelans who appear with a double identity and who have been able to exercise their vote more than once to purge the REP. Additionally, the regime cannot be allowed to abruptly relocate voters. Likewise, all Venezuelans who have left the country, currently numbering more than five million and who have the right to vote from abroad, should be taken into account.
When talking about free and transparent elections, the aim should also be to dismantle the armed groups that support Chavismo, such as the collectives; the Colombian guerrillas, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), and the National Liberation Army (ELN), which operate from Venezuela; the Special Action Forces (FAES), among others, which prevent voters from freely exercising their right to vote through intimidation and persecution.
Thus, free elections in Venezuela would require more than Maduro’s departure and the renewal of the CNE authorities. Chavismo would have to abandon all spheres of power. We would also need to implement a shock force against the armed groups that guard the dictatorship along with candidates with an impeccable resume and an impartial international watchdog to ensure that the entire electoral process is transparent.