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The waiting room to the elections that will define the destiny of Venezuela

The serious crisis that Venezuela is going through has reached a turning point: after decades of control of power by Nicolas Maduro through a process of deinstitutionalization of the political system and cancellation of the separation of powers, the electoral moment of July 28 It has operated like a gale. A country that until a few months ago seemed discouraged and overwhelmed by the absolute power of the government that has created the complex humanitarian emergency, today finds itself in a kind of state of citizen ebullience that expresses its desire for change every day, and on many occasions does so by clearly challenging power.

The constant evidence of a kind of popular fervor that the public rallies of the Venezuelan opposition have generated are of such magnitude that they have made broad sectors hope that a change towards respect for human rights, justice and freedom is possible. That can certainly happen, but there is a long way to go before what is felt today as a majority will for change is realized through an election that meets the internationally accepted criteria to be defined as fair and free.

Since 2015, opposition forces have gained a majority popular support that succumbed to the factual suppression of parliament ordered by Maduro, and this popular support again couldn’t expressed in 2018 when Maduro orchestrated electoral fraud through the disqualification of opposition leaders and the legal kidnapping of political parties executed through a Supreme Court of Justice subordinate to the orders of the executive branch.

On this occasion, Maduro has used his usual repertoire of violations of political rights: he disqualified the winning candidate in the opposition primaries, María Corina Machado, he ignored the registration of the Corina Yoris candidacy proposed by Machado, he generated a surprising number of “opposition” candidates encouraged and financed by his government, and maintained a blatant advantage in the National Electoral Council that prevented millions of Venezuelans abroad from exercising their right to vote.

However, this avalanche of arbitrariness has seemed incapable of stopping the massive demonstrations of the will to vote and guiding the country towards its re-institutionalization. According to opinion polls, opponents triple Maduro’s voting intention, so it would be a major surprise if they did not obtain electoral victory, unless there is an intervention by State bodies that conditions the election through new disqualifications, illegalization of the parties that support the opposition candidate or some other illegal mechanism.

Thus, given Maduro’s background, the question that Venezuelans ask themselves is: will Maduro once again use the prerogatives granted to him by unlimited control of the resources and institutions of the State to illegally prevent the electoral defeat that is looming for him? he? Will he risk violating the right to vote of the millions of citizens who openly express their rejection of the regime he presides over? It is a pertinent question, but one without an answer.

Given this scenario, another important question arises: in the face of a non-competitive authoritarian regime, as is the case, is it advisable to propose mechanisms that lower the costs of exiting power for the ruling elite? Definitely yes. Can these mechanisms be structured into a kind of general amnesty that eliminates the responsibilities of those who have committed crimes against humanity and have violated the most basic rights of citizens, including the right to life? Definitely not. Human rights are universal and non-negotiable, and the non-repetition of the countless rights violations that Venezuelans have suffered must be guaranteed.

This situation is then complex. We are just a few days away from the election date, and the chances of the regime emptying the election of its content are high. Only the citizen struggle and the organization of voters to defend their rights will allow a result that is truly accepted by the country. This leads us to reiterate the importance of the international community being attentive to what is happening in the country until the election date and especially the following days, and to clearly support that the only solution to the crisis is through an electoral event free and fair. Any possibility of the present elite leaving power through political mechanisms must first go through free elections and second have as its objective memory, truth, justice and guarantees of non-repetition.