Venezuelans are set to vote in the fourth election this year, this time to choose their mayors. Tomorrow’s municipal elections vote comes at the country continues to traverse the worst political, economic and social crisis that it has faced in its modern history.

The municipal elections signal an end to a tumultuous year at the ballot box for Venezuelans. The year’s first electoral process was a national plebiscite on July 15 that saw more than 7 million people participate. Because the plebiscite was organized by the opposition, the Maduro regime refused to recognize it as a legitimate electoral exercise. Venezuelans voted again on July 30 for Maduro’s Constituent Assembly in an election that is widely understood to have been fraudulent, even by the company that provided the voting machines for the process. Then, on October 15, the country voted in gubernatorial elections, the legitimacy of which has also come under question following widespread allegations of fraud.

Tomorrow’s municipal elections will take place without three of the four biggest opposition parties in the country, which pulled out of the process earlier this year in protest over what they argue is the fact that the Maduro regime has perfected electoral fraud.

The Maduro regime does not allow the participation of international observers in elections. It does, however, invite “international companions” to witness the events. The companions do not have the same independent oversight abilities that international observers usually do, and are heavily criticized by regime critics of being stooges whose only job is to give elections in Venezuela a thin veneer of legitimacy.

Nicanor Moscoso, the president of the Latin American Election Experts’ Council (CEELA), is the head of the electoral companions who will participate in tomorrow’s vote. During a press conference today, he spoke highly of the preparations for tomorrow’s election.

CEELA was created by Hugo Chavez in 2004 with the goal of creating an alternative to international electoral observers, which in the region fall under the umbrella of the Organization of American States.

During the press conference, Moscoso told Venezuelans that they could trust the regime to ensure a free and fair election. He said:

You can have absolute confidence in the mechanisms used by the Consejo Nacional Electoral for tomorrow’s elections.

Weapons Stolen from Barinas Voting Centre

El Nacional reported today that a group comprised of an unknown number of individuals attacked a voting centre in the Alberto Arvelo Torrealba municipality of Barinas state yesterday afternoon. The attackers subdued three soldiers who were posted to the centre and stole their weapons.

The attackers took stole three AK-103 assault rifles and 450 rounds of ammunition.

Initial reports that the attackers had also stolen electoral materials from the voting centre are false, according to authorities that responded to the scene.

Washington Sends Outspoken Diplomat to Venezuela

The United States government will assign Todd Robinson, an outspoken career diplomat, as the country’s top diplomat in the coming days, according to senator Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL).

ABC News reports that Robinson has a “long diplomatic career” that includes deployments to Colombia, Bolivia, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, and Guatemala. As ambassador to Guatemala, Robinson reportedly upset his hosts with candid commentary on developments in the country to the point that he was threatened with expulsion.

The United States and Venezuela have not had ambassadors in each other’s countries since 2010. Patrick Duddy, the last U.S. ambassador to the country, spoke on Robinson’s appointment to the top diplomatic position in the country, saying:

His appointment sends a signal that the Trump administration is taking the crisis in Venezuela very seriously.

Questions/Comments? E-mail me: invenezuelablog@gmail.com

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