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The CNE turned the election into a selection

Pinilla’s cartoon about political diversity on the electoral ballot

According to the schedule of the National Electoral Council (CNE) – not yet officially published in the Electoral Gazette – the nomination of candidates for the presidency of the republic was to take place between March 21 and 25.

The application stage began on March 21 at noon and was expected to be 100% digital. However, on the 22nd the CNE changed the guidelines and decided that the applications would be made in blocks, assigning each party a time to present their application. The blocks were assigned without any logic, in such a way that some parties that did not present a candidate but were going to express their support for a candidate, had a registration date prior to that of the candidate of their choice.

In any case, to comply with this stage, each political organization had to previously create a username and password, which would later allow it to create a profile and upload the candidate’s information. On March 21, journalist Eugenio Martínez reported that the majority opposition alliance made up of the Un Nuevo Tiempo (UNT) and Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) parties had not managed to create their profiles, while the other 33 parties had. accomplished.

Until the 24th, according to a press release from the CNE, 10 candidates and 30 organizations with political purposes managed to comply with the requirements, that is, generate their username and passwords, create the profile and upload the candidates’ information, without major inconveniences. The note does not refer to the technical problems that had prevented the registration of UNT and MUD, despite the fact that by that time the person in charge of the MUD had already sent a letter to the electoral body about the impossibility of accessing the system and the request for an extension.

On the 25th, the CNE woke up taken over militarily, as revealed by opposition candidate Corina Yoris, who assured that she had not been able to access either the digital platform or the headquarters of the electoral body to register her application. Due to the alleged technical failures, the CNE began to admit applications without going through the requirement of prior digital upload, but candidate Yoris did not have that option, since she was not allowed access to the CNE.

It should be added that the Communist Party, whose name and card were confiscated by decision of the Supreme Court of Justice, was also unable to nominate its candidate. In addition, other organizations, such as Fuerza Vecinal, had problems accessing the platform, but finally managed to register in person, as did the UNT party, minutes before the established deadline.

Conversations with people familiar with the electoral technical aspects allow us to affirm that it was not a technical failure, but that the system was deliberately blocked by a CNE subordinate to the ruling party to prevent registration with the MUD card.

Much was said in the afternoon and evening of March 25 about the existence of a “filter” that any candidate had to pass in order to be allowed access to the system. Such a filter is the approval of the governing party who, in turn, communicates to the CNE the acceptance or rejection of the candidate. In other words, the CNE, following orders from the ruling party, imposed a selective scheme in the candidate nomination stage, preventing any nomination of someone likely to win in the July 28 elections. This is an unacceptable practice that cannot be considered part of the system, as has been claimed.

The manipulation of the system was so grotesque that, in addition to a joint statement from the governments of Argentina, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay, there were statements from the foreign ministries of Colombia and Brazil, condemning the irregularities in the process of applications. Although the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry strongly rejected all the statements, the truth is that on the morning of March 26 the CNE announced an extension and allowed the registration of a candidate with the MUD card, different from Yoris.

It should be noted that the international community has played a leading role in supporting the Barbados agreements, which have been violated with this action that prevents the exercise of the political rights of millions of Venezuelans, who see their ability to choose between the different presidential candidates frustrated. Therefore, careful vigilance is essential in the face of these events that distance Venezuela from a democratic solution to the serious situation it is experiencing today.

Recounting the events since March 21st serves to show that Venezuela is in the presence of an unreliable electoral system and that, if the opposition and the population that supports its project continue to move forward despite this panorama of manipulation and discretion, it will be possible largely due to the vigilant presence of an international community that prevents the whim of the minority in power from imposing itself, as happened on the morning of March 26.

The actions of the States through their chancelleries will have an important weight in moving Venezuela to improve conditions ahead of the elections.