Henrique Capriles, the former governor of Miranda state, spoke today for the first time on Sunday’s gubernatorial election, and lashed out against the Maduro regime and opposition critics who downplayed the role that fraud had in the opposition’s defeat in the vote.
Arguing that the Maduro regime had succeeded in building “the most corrupt electoral system int he world”, Capriles made clear that blaming Venezuelans for not turning out in large enough numbers in favour of the opposition was a mistake. For Capriles, the matter is simple: the ruling PSUV stole the election. Capriles said:
Up until 7:00 PM on Sunday every one of our projections, every report that we received was that we were wining (…) but we’d never had to deal with voting centres being closed 48 hour prior [to the vote], or changed. This was the first time that this had happened to us.
Capriles continued his attack on the country’s corrupt electoral system by saying:
The great challenge that we have is to change that system. That is our great challenge.
Capriles said that an estimated 224,000 voters were affected by the sudden closure of hundreds of voting centres that was announced mere days before Sunday’s vote, forcing people to make alternative arrangements to travel–sometimes great distances–to their new voting centres.
Turning to the actual date of the vote, Capriles pointed to corrupt elections staff as well as the regime tactic of offering bags of food to hungry Venezuelans in exchange for their vote for the PSUV as common and widespread occurrences that helped the ruling party win the election.
Capriles’ comments come a day after the opposition Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD) bloc presented hard evidence that the Maduro regime had committed fraud in the vote. The evidence came in the form of official voting centre audit forms produced by the Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE) which show that the PSUV candidate in that state somehow got over 2,000 votes between the time that voting centres closed and the official results were published in the CNE website. The evidence demonstrates that the CNE gave the PSUV candidates the votes needed to beat his opposition opponent, calling into question the election results in every other state.
Maduro’s Constituent Assembly Swears In PSUV Governors
Maduro’s Constituent Assembly–a body that was elected via elections that have been universally condemned as fraudulent–presided over a swearing-in ceremony today for the 18 PSUV governors who were elected in Sunday’s gubernatorial vote.
The ceremony has no basis in Venezuela law, since governors are sworn in at their respective state legislatures.
The president of the Constituent Assembly, Delcy Rodriguez, spoke at today’s ceremony and congratulated the PSUV winners for running on a message of “peace and sovereignty”, a message that she claimed helped the ruling party secure its “overwhelming victory” on Sunday.
Opposition Winners Refuse to Attend Ceremony
Noticeably absent from the ceremony were the five opposition winners, who refused to attend as a matter of principle. The opposition maintains that the Constituent Assembly is an illegal institution founded on a fraud whose sole purpose it is to lend a veneer of legitimacy to the Maduro regime.
Prior to the start of the ceremony at the Constituent Assembly, the MUD issued a statement stressing that its governors would only be held accountable to “the Constitution and the laws of the Republic”.
In the days prior to the election, Maduro threatened that any election winner who was not sworn in by the Constituent Assembly would not be allowed to take office.
National Assembly Declares Election Fraud, Demands International Audit
The National Assembly held a session today in which it declared Sunday’s gubernatorial election fraudulent, and called for an international audit of the event to determine the scope of the fraud.
During the legislative session, deputy Americo De Grazia said that the legislature was planning to take evidence of the fraud to relevant foreign institutions in the hope of spreading awareness about the event.
De Grazia also delivered a message to Venezuelans regarding the resolve of the country’s political opposition to continue the fight against the Maduro regime, saying:
They can beat us up here or on the street, ban us from boarding planes, take away our salary; they can make us eat garbage as they’ve done to the Venezuelan people and commit crimes against humanity, but the Venezuelan people can be assured that they will not be alone.
During her intervention, deputy Larissa Gonzalez said that it was “unfortunate” that the regime had “resorted to fraud and manipulation” during the election, and considered the fact one more piece of evidence demonstration that the regime has no respect for the law.
Deputy Carlos Valero from Tachira state used his time at the microphone to say that regime authorities bought votes in that state with bags of food, while deputy Williams Davila provided evidence that voters were threatened into voting for PSUV candidates or lose state assistance.
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