A whole series of maneuvers that seriously affected the free expression of Venezuelan citizens took place last Sunday. It was an electoral fraud – not in the traditional sense of stealing votes, except in Bolívar state – but it is clear that when the Opposition cannot nominate the candidates it wants because are politically disabled by the Government, these are elections without any justification since the substitution of candidates as provided for in the law is not allowed and people are relocated from their original voting centers simply because the four ladies acting in the best interest of the leftist United Social Party of Venezuela (PSUV) who control the National Electoral Council (CNE) feel like it.
To this must be added a wide range of dirty little tricks put into practice by the Government through the CNE and Plan República, which takes care of safeguarding the public order during elections, last Sunday. Among them, voting machines that didn’t work and were not replaced on time, voters who were unable to cast their vote because they were prevented from doing so by paramilitary groups, vote buying in cash, the removal of witnesses from the voting centers, blackmail through the social missions identity card known as "Homeland Card," forced assisted voting and, according to some members of the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) opposition coalition, "ghost votes."
And when all these tricks are not enough, the outcome is simply not recognized and a candidate of the Government is proclaimed as winner, such as happened in Bolívar state where the majority voted for MUD candidate Andrés Velásquez. An evident fraud that has a National Guard general officer as protagonist. It’s hard to believe this is purely coincidental.
On the other hand, a significant number of opposition supporters decided not to cast their vote. If they had done so, fraud would have not been accomplished, at least not in all its scope, since there would have been enough votes to avoid it in some regions of the country. This may be true. In any case, we believe that the MUD should perform an in-depth analysis of the reasons for citizens to have chosen abstention. A good part of their reasons lies in the ambivalent and inconsistent behavior of the opposition coalition.
The MUD encouraged protests that took place in the country between April and July of this year, with painful consequences for too many Venezuelan families.
Protests with several dead, wounded and arrested as a result of the savage and criminal repression by the military and police bodies at the service of the dictatorship of Nicolás Maduro.
The Opposition made its supporters and, particularly, those who participated in the protests, believe that the end of the Government was near. The objective was not achieved and, all of a sudden and without any explanation, everything went from that struggle to participate in the regional elections. It is logical that many felt disappointed, abandoned and had preferred to stay home last Sunday.
Now the winds of division are gaining strength in the opposition coalition. Someone said this many years ago: Victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan. Contradictory proposals are once again on the table. Also quick way outs that never have been such until now. The MUD has two clearly defined visions on how to deal with the Government. Unity is important, but we are not sure about its effectiveness if maintained with such contradictions. We need to keep a cool head as much as possible and analyze everything that has happened so far.
Those who make up the MUD must take their time and analyze their actions since December 6 2015 through the present date. There have been more losses than achievements after that electoral victory that bought it a majority in the Parliament. Without a doubt, they are not doing things right.
We believe that the outcome of that parliamentary election was not read properly.
It was emphasized (and still is) the fact that the Opposition achieved a two-thirds parliamentary majority and was forgotten the fact that chavismo, also on that occasion, obtained 40% of the votes. This is a number to always take into account.
Surveys have shown that at least 70% of Venezuelans reject the Maduro administration, which means many chavistas do as well, but do not see the MUD as a political alternative. This is certainly another flaw. In the midst of the current defeat, the MUD has to define policies to help mitigate the damage, and face the upcoming challenges in the best possible conditions, in order to avoid a bigger debacle with longer-term harmful effects.