Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE) rector Luis Emilio Rondon revealed yesterday that the organization in charge of organizing and holding elections in the country has yet to discuss the regional elections that are supposed to take place this year. The elections were originally scheduled for last December, but the CNE unceremoniously postponed them in the fall.
Rondon – who is one of the five individuals who heads the CNE and the only one who is not aligned with the PSUV – said that the CNE “owes” Venezuelans elections, and that the organization is failing the Venezuelan public.
The CNE’s postponement of the elections was widely condemned at the time as a desperate attempt to hold onto power. Given the PSUV’s overwhelming unpopularity, the elections would likely result in the party losing many of its governorships and city mayor positions.
Rondon also said that the CNE’s unwillingness to carry out its mandate is setting a dangerous precedent for democracy in Venezuela:
We are getting used to things being, instead of things being what the Constitution says they must be.
Calling elections “a safety valve” that have the potential to provide relief for the unprecedented crisis that country is suffering through right now, Rondon said that the CNE needed at least five months to plan the regional elections, meaning that even if the electoral schedule were to be published today, Venezuelans would not actually go to the voting booths until at least the end of June.
Deputy Rodriguez Downplays Importance of Elections
National Assembly deputy Hector Rodriguez (PSUV) spoke to reporters today on the issue of the postponed regional elections, saying that they would take place “whenever” and suggesting that the PSUV’s main priority was not the electoral process.
[Whether or not Venezuela holds elections] isn’t the root of the problem. We will win some elections and lose some elections. That’s how democracies work. The issue is (…) will the problems that we’re facing today be fixed with an election?
Speaking on the PSUV’s priorities at the moment, Rodriguez said:
The PSUV will go to elections whenever we have them. The PSUV has priorities which are: that the CLAP [distribution network] work, that the price of oil increase (…) our priority is the people (…) our priority right now is the economic situation in the country, security in the country…
If there are elections, we will participate in them. We will try to win a majority, because we think that our project is more closely connected to what the people need.
Constitutional term limits mandated that elections for the office of governor and mayor, as well as for state assemblies, take place at the end of last year. As in many democratic countries, elections are “built-in” to the Venezuelan Constitution precisely so that whoever holds power cannot simply decide to not hold elections if it is not convenient to do so.
Cabello: MUD Shouldn’t Participate in Elections
Speaking on his weekly television show yesterday, National Assembly deputy and PSUV vice-president Diosdado Cabello suggested that the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica – a bloc which is made up of the largest opposition parties in the country – should not be allowed to participate in future elections in the country.
The president of the CNE announced [last year] that we would have elections in mid-2017. But watch out, escualidos [a derogatory term for opposition supporters], because you don’t have a party. We could have elections tomorrow, but you wouldn’t be able to go because you don’t have a party. Even though the MUD is registered [to participate in elections] it committed fraud against the country and that automatically disqualifies them.
While the MUD has been accused not only of committing fraud but also of being a terrorist organizations in numerous occassions by Cabello as well as other high-ranking PSUV officials, the party has never provided any evidence to back up its claims. The MUD as an organization has never been formally charged by the Public Ministry of having committed fraud.
Cabello’s position atop the PSUV leadership make his comments particularly worrying, as they could pave the way for the possible outlawing of opposition parties in Venezuela.
Maduro: Obama “Went Nuts” Because He Left But I Stayed
Speaking in a television address earlier today, Maduro spoke on the recent transition at the White House, and suggested that former president Barack Obama had become upset at Maduro over the fact that he was still firmly in power in Venezuela.
Obama went nuts against us because he could not accept the fact that he was leaving and Maduro was staying, so he attacked Venezuela from every direction. But Venezuela is still standing.
Maduro also re-iterated a statement that he made in recent weeks to the effect that he did not believe that President Trump would be any worse than former president Obama.
Public Ministry Wants DolarToday Blocked in Venezuela
The Public Ministry announced yesterday that it had requested that the popular website DolarToday be blocked in the country. The request was made before a Caracas court, and if granted, would require the collaboration of the national telecommunications agency, CONATEL.
DolarToday features predominantly in the government’s narrative that the country’s economic troubles are the result of a vast conspiracy involving foreign and domestic enemies who are in league to undermine the Bolivar. The website published economic data, including the price of the black market exchange rate.
The website is owned and operated by a Venezuelan man named Gustavo Diaz, a 60-year-old Home Depot employee who lives in Alabama.
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