Menu Close

THE PROMISED ELECTORAL OBSERVATION

Public domain image

The Barbados agreements, signed by the government of Venezuela with the representatives of the unitary platform in October 2023, in the midst of a very serious complex humanitarian crisis, an exodus of around 25% of the country’s population, a destroyed health system and a social crisis of unsuspected magnitudes, brought at the time an air of hope in the sense that the presidential election of 2024 could be developed according to internationally accepted parameters and that its result would be respected by the parties due to a high reliability.

This air of hope occurred because the agreement included some of the most important points to guarantee a free and fair electoral process. However, with approximately two months left until the elections, the government’s failures are evident.

Firstly, the government failed to fulfill its commitment to recognize and respect, as the signed agreement states, “the right of each political actor to choose their candidate for the presidential elections freely and in accordance with their internal mechanisms, taking into account the provisions of the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and the law…”, by illegally disqualifying María Corina Machado. The government deepened its non-compliance by not allowing the registration of the candidate proposed by Mrs. Machado, Corina Yoris, without even offering an explanation, legal or illegal, for such exclusion.

Secondly, the government failed to comply with the update of the electoral registry, which according to the agreement would be carried out “…with registration and update points throughout the national territory” and would occur jointly with the “… update [of the] Electoral Registry abroad, without more limitations than those provided for in the Constitution and the law.” The reality is that the update points were limited to the capitals, leaving the rural population and small towns unattended, while the registration and update of Venezuelans abroad was a mockery that is evident by its results: not even 1% of potential voters could be registered, given the illegal obstacles, the supervening conditions and the material impossibilities that the National Electoral Council and the consulates implemented in alliance to prevent the registration of voters.

Thus, an aspect also agreed upon in Barbados remains pending and does not have, to date, a clear definition. The agreement establishes the “…Request for invitation to agreed technical electoral observation missions, including the European Union, the UN Panel of Electoral Experts, the African Union, the Inter-American Union of Electoral Organizations and the Carter Center, for the purposes of observing the presidential electoral process…”

On the one hand, the National Electoral Council unnecessarily delayed sending the invitation to the agreed organizations to participate as observers. This is serious, given that the formation of professional observation teams requires prior work and any delay hinders the possibilities of carrying out a moderately in-depth observation of the electoral process. There is information that the European Union, which has extensive experience in international electoral observation, is preparing the mission, made up of approximately a hundred experts, that would take on the Venezuelan case.

At the same time this is happening, the EU has decided, in a gesture of good faith, to lift the personal sanctions that weighed on, among others, the president of the National Electoral Council. This fact, which in principle should be considered a positive measure to calm tensions with a view to the development of the electoral process, has baffled the president of the national assembly, who at the beginning of May, from the presidency of the legislative branch, has indicated that would send a letter to the National Electoral Council asking it to withdraw the invitation made to the European Union “for rude people, for scoundrels, for bastards.” Although it is uncertain that this letter was produced, the disproportionate tone of this statement is a worrying political fact, as well as the constant uncertainty regarding the implementation of a robust and effective electoral observation for the process on July 28.

On the other hand, these are not the only obstacles facing the search for efficient electoral observation. A delicate factor lies in the fact that the Chavista regime, in exercising its control of the legislative power, has established electoral norms that, obviously, radically contradict the figure of electoral observation, conditioning observation in such a way that it could only visit, on the election date, the places to which it is expressly authorized by the government, and in the same way they must request authorization to express publicly in front of the press. The EU, for its part, has requested to have the unrestricted possibility of movement and expression, so it is not clear what the outcome of this matter will be.

If these tensions and this uncertainty continue in relation to electoral observation, the possibility of a clean election, whose evaluation of the process allows the parties to accept the results and which is the gateway to a re-institutionalization of the country, to the separation of powers and respect for human rights, is still distant.

Therefore, in the midst of this delicate political, social and economic situation, the future of Venezuela depends largely on carrying out a professional and complete electoral observation, which analyzes all phases of the process and this, today, is in doubt. Therefore, the international community must act to promote the realization of the observation and the definition of reasonable conditions for its implementation. Without this, Venezuela’s fate is uncertain.