According to a poll conducted by the Meganalisis firm, only 17.4% of Venezuelans plan to vote in the May 20 election, during which the President of the Republic will be selected alongside state legislators and municipal council members.

The results of the survey suggest that an overwhelming majority of Venezuelans concur with the opposition opinion that the results of the May 20 election are a foregone conclusion, and that the vote is being conducted only to lend a thin veneer of legitimacy to the Maduro regime.

The survey found that among the number of voters saying that they plan to participate in the vote, only 5.8% claim to be “very sure” that they will in fact cast their ballots that day.

The same survey found that 80.7% of Venezuelans are ready to ignore the results of the election as they are announced by the regime’s electoral body, the Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE). The CNE is arguably one of the most reviled institutions in Venezuela, since it is widely understood to rig elections in favour of Maduro and the ruling PSUV parties. The most egregious and recent example of the CNE’s brazen election manipulation is the July 30 2017 Constituent Assembly election.

Below, a selection of some of the survey’s other findings:

  • 68.3% say that they have a friend or a relative who has migrated out of the country. Only 12.4% said that they do not know anyone who has permanently left the country.
  • 72.2% say that they have lost weight in the last two years as a direct result of food shortages.
  • 78.7% would support international efforts “to bring food and medicine to help resolve the crisis in Venezuela”.

On Maduro’s presidency, 79.5% of respondents said that they would like him to leave power, while only 13.6% say that they would like for him to stay.

The survey also found that Henri Falcon is the least trusted non-PSUV politician in the country, with 30% of respondents saying that they did not trust him. Falcon, who was a member of the PSUV party until 2010, ignited a national debate when he decided to run in the May 20 presidential election despite the fact that the opposition agreed to not participate in the vote.

The survey had a sample size of 1,090 people and was conducted between February 27 and March 4. It has a margin of error of 3.3%, and a confidence level of 97%.

SmartMatic Closes Shop in Venezuela

SmartMatic officially closed its office in Venezuela today, bringing an end to the company’s 15-year stay in the country. In that time, the company provided and operated the electronic voting machines during 14 electoral processes in Venezuela.

The last Venezuelan election that SmartMatic participated in was the July 30 2017 Constituent Assembly vote. The highly controversial election left at least 15 people dead and was universally decried as a naked attempt by Maduro to tighten his authoritarian grip.

Three days after the CNE announced the results of the election, SmartMatic took the unprecedented measure of calling a press conference to announce that the results were fraudulent, and that the CNE had simply made up the figures. SmartMatic was able to come to this conclusion because as the provider and operator of the voting machines used in the election, it had access to the real number of votes cast.

On August 2 of last year, SmartMatic issued a press release, part of which reads:

Based on the robustness of our system, we know, without any doubt, that the turn out of the recent election for a National Constituent Assembly was manipulated. It is important to highlight that similar manipulations are made in manual elections in many countries, but because of the lack of electronic security and auditing safeguards, they go unnoticed.

Maduro reacted to the SmartMatic allegations by saying that the company was acting on behalf of the White House to undermine his presidency.

SmartMatic did not participate in the two electoral processes that followed the Constituent Assembly vote. The company was replaced by an Argentinian firm called Ex-Cle, which now provides and operates the voting machines in the country.

Caracas, Washington Open “Backchannel” In Holt Case

The Associated Press reported today that the Maduro regime and the White House are currently engaged in secret negotiations to arrange for the release of Joshua Holt, a U.S. citizen who has been in a Venezuelan prison for the past 20 months.

According to AP, Maduro personally met with “a top-ranking Republican congressional staffer” in Caracas last month to discuss the matter. That meeting was followed up by a trip to Washington, D.C. by Carabobo state governor Rafael Lacava, who is apparently attempting to negotiate Holt’s release in exchange for the lifting of sanctions against regime officials.

The initial meeting allegedly took place at the request of Utah senator Orrin Hatch, and the negotiation may be taken place without the express consent of the White House.

Senator Marco Rubio was the first to break the news of Lacava’s trip to the U.S. capital in a series of tweets on Saturday. In an e-mail to Republican lawmakers on the Foreign Relations Committee, Rubio criticized the idea of the negotiation by saying:

The fact that Rafael Lacava is even coming to the U.S. to negotiate a sanctions-for-hostage deal proves that Holt is being held as leverage (…) The very news of high-level meetings would be used by Maduro to sow confusion and doubt in the minds of our regional allies about the commitment of the United States to sanctions.

Civil Society Groups Meet in Caracas To Discuss Path Forward

The Universidad Central de Venezuela (UCV) hosted an event today in aula magna with hundreds of individuals from civil society and student groups, as well as unions. The event was titled Venezuela Unida No Se Rinde [United Venezuela Does Not Surrender].

Victor Marquez, the head of the Asociacion de Profesores Universitarios de la UCV [Univeristy Professor’s Association at the CUV] (APCUCV) and one of the organizers of the event explained the purpose of the meeting in the following way:

The objective of the event was to raise the spirits of the people, [to make them] understand that we have not been defeated and that we are willing to continue to fight. This event looks to activate every sector in the defense of their rights. The country has problems generally, and each sector has needs that it has to meet. We’re looking for unity in action, but civil society will not be led by [political] parties. If the parties want to join us, they are welcomed to.

Marquez said that as many as 3,000 people participated in the event, at which speakers including opposition National Assembly deputies spoke on the importance of continuing to resist against the Maduro regime.

Below, images from the event:

Pablo Zambrano, the executive secretary of the Federacion de Trabajadores de la Salud (FETRASALUD) also spoke at the event, and said:

We must unite. We must make a pact among our citizen groups to reject the government that is taking us to hunger and misery.

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

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