Maduro formally became the PSUV candidate for the upcoming snap presidential election today, and officially launched what is likely to be a frantic electoral campaign. Maduro accepted the candidacy at an event in Caracas this afternoon.
Speaking before a crowd of workers from the transportation sector, Maduro made his candidacy official by saying:
From right here, from this field of dreams, I am telling you brothers and sisters that I am taking on the candidacy for the 2019-2015 period, and I swear before you fellow workers that I will be the candidate for the Venezuelan working class.
Since coming to power in 2013, Maduro has presided over what is arguably the most catastrophic period in Venezuelan history since the Federal War. A succession of failed policies and inaction have resulted in an economic collapse with no precedent in the country’s modern history.
Maduro “accepted” the PSUV presidential candidacy during the event, which was broadcast on state-owned television, following a request from the crowd that he run for re-election.
Shortly after accepting the candidacy, Maduro ordered his supporters to begin work “in an accelerated and disciplined manner” in order to ensure that at least 10 million Venezuelans cast their votes in the election.
NGO: 5 Million Venezuelans Will Be Ineligible to Vote in Presidential Election
Francisco Castro, the head of a Venezuelan NGO called Sumate, estimated today that as many as 5 million Venezuelans may be ineligible to vote in the upcoming presidential vote. The reason, Castro explained, is the rapidity with which the election is expected to happen.
According to Castro, the fact that the presidential election will be held before April 30 simply does not allow for the time necessary to update the electoral roll, which is the official list of voters registered to cast the ballots in the election. The inability to update the electoral roll, Castro explained, may leave as many as 2 million Venezuelans living in the country who are otherwise able to vote unable to do so.
As many as 3 million Venezuelans living abroad face the same fate, Castro said, because they will be unable to complete all of the paperwork required to register as voters outside of Venezuela. He pointed out that, for example, Venezuelans living in the Miami area–the largest Venezuelan diaspora centre in the world–will not be able to register with the Venezuelan consulate there because it is closed.
Almagro: Regime Needs 2-3 More Rounds of Sanctions
Luis Almagro, the secretary general of the Organization of American States, said today that he believes that there is still room for the international community to place two or three rounds of “stronger, more comprehensive” sanctions against Maduro regime officials for their continued human rights abuses in the country.
Almagro–arguably the most outspoken critic of the Maduro regime on the international stage–was clear to clarify that the sanctions should not target the Venezuelan people, but rather the regime and its officials.
Almagro spoke with urgency, and referenced the upcoming presidential election by saying:
There are no sanctions against the Venezuelan people. The worst sanction that could be placed against the Venezuelan people are six more years of Maduro, which is what is going to happen after this election. And we cannot allow that.
On the nature of the election, Almagro said:
That election will not be an election. Maybe people will go vote, but we have seen how the Venezuelan electoral system works in the regional [elections], the municipal elections, and the election of the National Constituent Assembly (…) we already know who will win.
Colombia Deports 130 Venezuelans from Migrant Camp as Tensions Rise
The Colombian government has begun the deportation of 130 Venezuelan migrants from a makeshift camp in a sports complex in the border city of Cucuta, as tensions between residents and the migrants have risen to a boil in recent weeks.
Just two days ago, three individuals were arrested for Colombian authorities for attacking the camp with explosive devices–likely fireworks. Last week, the city hosted a march in support of “a city without crime” that named the Venezuelan migrants as the root of a number of social ills.
The migrant camp, known as “Hotel Caracas”, houses as many as 900 Venezuelan migrants who have fled the crisis at home into the neighbouring country.
The city of Cucuta explained that of the 130 deported individuals, 36 will be taken to the border with Ecuador at Ipiales “so that they may continue their journey” out of Venezuela. It is not clear what fate awaits the rest of the deported migrants.
According to Colombian immigration authorities, there are currently 550,000 Venezuelans living in the country, and approximately 37,000 make daily trips across the border to buy food and medicine before to take home to Venezuela.
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