EspañolThis weekend’s municipal-election victories by the wives of former mayors — imprisoned by the Maduro government — have confirmed resident willingness to be governed by opposition factions in Venezuela.
Patricia Gutiérrez de Ceballos and Rosa de Scarano launched mayoral campaigns in San Cristóbal, Táchira, and San Diego, Carabobo, after their husbands, Daniel Ceballos and Enzo Scarano, were detained and sentenced to 12 and 10 months in prison, respectively.
Hoy votamos alzando nuestra voz de protesta! Exigiendo libertad! Con mis hijos, hoy ejercí mi voto por la Justicia!! pic.twitter.com/vxFKad7quO
— Patricia Ceballos (@PatrideCeballos) May 25, 2014
In March, the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court declared that both mayors were in contempt for not complying with precautionary measures that obliged them to put down the protests and barricades raised by protestors in their own municipalities. These protests transpired amid the broader series of national protests that began on February 4 in Venezuela. Given numerous opportunities, both mayors instead contended that the municipal police that they had under their control were not equipped with the proper tools to maintain public order and carry out the requested cautionary measures.
But the results from the electoral ballots show a repudiation of the authoritarian approach from the Maduro government that removed the elected mayors from power. Patricia Gutiérrez de Ceballos obtained 5.9 percent more votes than her husband (73.6 percent), and Rosa Scarano obtained 12.5 percent more votes than Enzo Scarano (87.74 percent). The women won decisively despite participation in San Cristóbal being practically equal to that of elections in December (59.1 percent) and the elections in San Diego were two points lower (64.62 percent).
On election day, during a press conference at an official celebration in Caracas, Nicolás Maduro affirmed that there would be no problem with reconvening elections in these municipalities. “If the protestors become crazy and begin to burn down the municipality again, the authorities will act,” he warned.
Patricia de Ceballos responded directly: “I call for the president … I demand that he listen to the people of San Cristóbal … there are people here demanding respect and recognition … a decision was made on December 8 [their election] which was forcibly taken away by the government’s orders,” she said in a interview conducted by Globovisión. She assured that she is willing to work with the governor of the state of Táchira, José Vielma Mora (of Chavista leanings) under a framework of respect and truth at the center of the process.
“The people will continue to be out on the streets so that it echoes throughout the world that Venezuela is going through a very difficult situation,” Rosa de Scarano insisted while she was leaving her voting station.
Carabobo: Electorate Favor Transparent Administration
In the view of international public law analyst Corina Cortés, who lives in Carabobo, the phenomenon of votes in favor of Scarano can be explained by San Diego residents’ fear of losing the continuity of public policies implemented by mayor Enzo Scarano since 2004, when the first of his three terms as mayor began.
“San Diego changed with local welfare policies, and it has become an example to follow in the country and Latin America in general. The average San Diego resident, beyond his political party views, was content because Enzo had resolved a bunch of problems in his second term and that explains the avalanche of votes that he received. People know that Enzo will effectively continue governing through his wife Rosa,” Cortés indicated to the PanAm Post.
— Domingo Bacalao (@DomingoBacalao) May 26, 2014
Cortés assured that beyond the political punishment that the Chavistas dished out, people in San Diego feared that a Chavista victory would discontinue successful policies of previous administrations — seemingly a custom now in Venezuela.
In this respect, the analyst believes the new mayor should continue implementing the policies of her husband before using her position as a means to launch a campaign for her imprisoned husband’s freedom. She thinks that that one of the main challenges that the new mayor will face as of today is the fight against organized crime, in the wake of San Diego Police Chief Salvatore Lucchese’s detention, alongside the mayor’s husband. This has resulted in a wave of violent crimes in one of Venezuela’s safest municipalities.
In Cortés’ view, by continuing this fight through his wife, Enzo Scarano will be strengthened, especially in his campaign to be governor of the state of Carabobo.