The Fantasy of Free Elections With Chavismo in Power

According to Venezuelan journalists who are aware of the dialogues between Chavismo and the opposition, Chavismo has made it clear that it would present itself with candidates in the next presidential elections

Free elections in Venezuela require a complete revamp of the Nation Electoral Council (BC Reporteros)

The regime of Nicolas Maduro and interim president Juan Guaido continue negotiations this week in Barbados. According to information from unofficial sources, they will discuss “free elections” and potentially consider Diosdado Cabello as one of the candidates of Chavismo and the usurper of the electoral contest.

Nelson Bocaranda, a renowned Venezuelan journalist, announced this information. He also reported on his Twitter account some other data he knows about what will be on the table in this new dialogue.

“This will be on the table in Barbados: Free elections without Maduro within nine months (The Chavistas assure that Maduro will not be a candidate). Potential PSUV candidates include Diosdado Cabello and Hector Rodriguez. There will be strong military pressure to reach an agreement as soon as possible,” the journalist said.

The official press release of president Juan Guaido confirmed the meetings with Chavismo in Barbados and stressed the “mediation” of the government of Norway. He has said that they will be maintaining the same route (end of the usurpation, transitional government, and free elections). However, one has to remember that all attempts at dialogue have been unsuccessful because Chavismo has failed to comply with the agreements.

Are fair and free elections possible with Chavismo in power?

According to a survey by the Center for Politics and Government Studies at the Catholic University of Andres Bello (UCAB), 70% Venezuelans are willing to participate in presidential elections however without the participation of the candidacy of Maduro. Nevertheless, Maduro’s absence from direct involvement in elections is not enough to consider them fair and free elections.

There is no possibility that Venezuela can hold elections with democratic guarantees and international standards. The only way to achieve that implies the exit of the regime such that it does not maintain or control powers followed by a complete revamp of the Nation Electoral Council (CNE).

Real transparent elections

In recent years, Maduro has emerged victorious in elections with help from the CNE through different actions that undermine the opposition. These include preventing registration of new voters, relocating polling stations at the last minute, eliminating the use of indelible ink and fingerprints, violating the law by hindering the substitution of candidates on the card and conferring advantages to the ruling party. Additionally, Chavismo demotivates voters and manipulates the statistics.

Roberto Abdul, president of the steering committee of the civil association Súmate, an NGO with technological and logistical experience in coverage of electoral events, told PanAm Post that for elections to be truly transparent, it is necessary to change the electoral officials who have worked in favor of the Chavista regime for years. Additionally, he pointed out that it is fundamental to purge the Permanent Electoral Registry (REP) and to enable the political organizations that were annulled by the CNE.

Abdul explained that organizations such as the European Union and the OAS that have ample experience in observing elections should travel to Venezuela to ensure transparent elections. The country has a history of electoral fraud and needs as many impartial international organizations as possible, before, during, and after the elections.

Purging the REP would involve eliminating thousands of Venezuelans who assume dual identities and cast their vote more than once. Further, the regime cannot have the power to abruptly relocate voters.

All Venezuelans who have left the country and who have the right to vote from abroad should also be taken into account.

Another critical point is the verification and adequacy of the table members. The allegations of electoral fraud in the state of Bolívar during the 2017 regional elections, for example, demonstrated an association between manipulation of election results and the incorrect and convenient conformation of the regional and municipal boards.

Venezuela should adopt the use of indelible ink and fingerprint identification to avoid the possibility of citizens voting more than once at the convenience of the regime.

When speaking of free and transparent elections, we should not forget the dismantling of the armed groups that guard Chavismo, such as the collectives, the “dissidents” of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the National Liberation Army (ELN) that operates from Venezuela, the Special Action Forces (FAES), among others. Their acts of intimidation and persecution prevent voters from freely exercising their right to vote.

Any negotiation must include a demand by the Guaido government that these armed groups be banished from voting booths and that steps must be taken to stop them from committing acts of terrorism.

Chavismo as a candidate

According to Venezuelan journalists who are aware of the dialogues between Chavismo and the opposition, Chavismo has made it clear that it would present itself with candidates in the next presidential elections and Diosdado Cabello would be one of the candidates.

If the president of the Chavista constituents presents himself in an election as a possible presidential candidate, it would be considered a mockery of the Venezuelan people and the international community, because he is an alleged delinquent. It is important to note that the U.S. sanctioned Cabello for being linked not only to the violation of human rights but also to terrorism and international drug trafficking.

This indicates that to hold free elections in Venezuela, it is necessary to ask for more than the departure of Maduro and the renewal of the CNE. It is also essential for Chavismo to abandon all spheres of power; to implement a shock force against the armed groups that guard the dictatorship and could influence the vote; candidates with an impeccable resume and an impartial international oversight that guarantees that the entire electoral process is transparent.

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