Elections in Barinas: Venezuela’s justice nullifies opposition victory in Hugo Chávez’s native state | International

Supporters of opposition candidate Alfredo Superlano hold a vigil to ask that his victory, now frozen by the Supreme Court, be respected on Sunday.
Supporters of opposition candidate Alfredo Superlano hold a vigil to ask that his victory, now frozen by the Supreme Court, be respected on Sunday.MIGUEL ZAMBRANO (AFP)

When everything seemed to indicate that the candidate of the opposition forces in the State of Barinas – where Hugo Chávez was born and fief of the Bolivarian revolution – would be proclaimed new governor, he ended up in limbo. The Electoral Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice has issued a ruling in which it suspends the process of totalizing the votes. Chavismo thus casts doubt on the commitment to respect the results of the regional elections and not interfere in the popular vote.

The European Union mission, which observed the elections, certified that there were improvements compared to the previous ones, but assured that it still had great deficiencies. The judicial system, the observation concluded, is not independent. And that is the way that Chavismo has used to stop the defeat. Freddy Superlano led the acting governor, Argenis Chávez, brother of the late Chávez, by about 1,500 votes. The final totalization of three minutes remained. The opposition triumphed in eight of the 12 mayors belonging to the State of Barinas, so this result was logical. The delay on the results in this state located in the Venezuelan plains lasted all week, when the results had already been cleared in the rest of the country, and, as has happened before, began to produce irritation and nervousness in political circles and informative.

With the missing minutes for the clarification of the result in the hands of the Plan República, —the device for organizing the elections, in charge of the Armed Forces, whose logistics in Barinas is the responsibility of General José Serrano Gotera— the unusual delay in offering the definitive information on the voting had already produced complaints from Superlano himself, from opposition leaders in Caracas, and even from Enrique Márquez, rector of the National Electoral Council, who with great prudence had declared “to be aware that the delay of the Republic Plan had no justification ”.

The victory of the opposition Superlano over the ruling party Argenis Chávez seemed already confirmed news this Monday morning. Chávez himself has kept silent these days and suspended his weekly radio program, while his rivals celebrated in the streets. In Barinas it was affirmed that, although there was resistance in the Armed Forces to recognize the triumph of Superlano, sectors of Chavismo in Caracas, and Argenis himself, seemed resigned and willing to hand over one of their most precious symbolic bastions.

This feeling increased this Sunday, after Diosdado Cabello, head of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela and one of the most radical spokesmen for Chavismo, offered unusually weighted statements in which he seemed to admit the possibility of an adverse outcome. Chavismo’s method of inhibiting the proclamation of Freddy Superlano was very similar to that used to empty the constitutional powers of the National Assembly of content once the opposition won the 2015 parliamentary elections, which would subsequently trigger massive popular anti-Chavez protests in 2017.

A supporter of the opposition candidate, pictured on Sunday.
A supporter of the opposition candidate, pictured on Sunday.MIGUEL ZAMBRANO (AFP)

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The Venezuelan Supreme Court decided to admit the constitutional protection filed by Adolfo Superlano —a dissident opposition leader, accused of acts of corruption, who has no blood relations with the candidate — in which it is argued that the banned political leader had inquiries for administrative and criminal causes and he had been politically disqualified by the Comptroller General of the Republic.

Adolfo Superlano, Freddy’s namesake, is known as one of the scorpion deputies of the previous legislative exercise: a group of parliamentarians accused of maneuvering surreptitiously in international instances to lighten the file of the Colombian businessman Alex Saab, close to Nicolás Maduro, in exchange for some perks, according to the data offered by an investigative report by journalist Roberto Deniz on the Armando.info portal

“Administrative disqualifications are absurd,” says constitutional lawyer Juan Manuel Rafalli, commenting on one of the most recurrent vices of Chavista law to suppress competitors in Venezuela. “To take away someone’s political right to be elected to a popularly elected position, a final judgment from the Supreme Court of Justice is necessary. It is an unnatural decision. The Electoral Chamber must promote the elections, defend the votes and ensure that the votes are counted. “

Although at first there was talk of appointing a governor in charge, the versions about the possible repetition of the elections in Barinas are growing. “We don’t know what’s going to happen,” says local analyst Laure Nicotra. “I doubt very much that the Government is going to allow the Regional Legislative Council to appoint a governor in charge, because the opposition has a majority there. Repeating those choices can take a long time. “

The delay in the delivery of the electoral results of the regional elections on Sunday 21 in Barinas, and the rarefied local political environment, occurred in the presence of the European Union observers, Michelle Novaga and Rumiana Decheva. Many people feared that the final outburst against the opposition would take place once they left the country. The observers have decided to extend their departure.

The European Union report on the regional elections in Venezuela recognizes some concessions and institutional improvements in the organization of the consultation, but also points out a high amount of inconsistencies and rigged procedures of Chavista legality. Nicolás Maduro recently said that these officials were “enemies of the country and spies.”

Meanwhile, Freddy Superlano, the candidate who has been deprived of his victory, has declared to his followers: “Do not leave me alone, I will defend your will. Only mobilized, and defending our rights in a peaceful way, will we be able to overcome this obstacle ”.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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