From Tribuna Popular (journal of the CP Venezuela)
The Popular Revolutionary Alternative (Alternativa Popular Revolucionaria, APR) presented, under the electoral emblems of the Communist Party of Venezuela (PCV), its candidates to the governments and legislative councils of the 23 states, and to the mayoralties and municipal councils of the 335 municipalities of the country, in a complex political scenario marked by the systematic harassment by the national government and its party, which tried to hinder the inscription of alternative candidacies to those representing the pact of the elites that they have sealed with right-wing and extreme right-wing organizations in Mexico. As a result of such harassment, only 22 of the candidacies for governorship were officially validated by the electoral authorities, and some of the mayoral candidacies were also annulled.
Political and institutional actors linked to the government and to the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) deployed a series of overt and covert actions to threaten and intimidate the social fighters in order to prevent them from running as candidates of the APR for the November 21st elections. On September 5th, this institutional offensive against the APR and the PCV was initiated with a message from the rector of the National Electoral Council (CNE), Tania D’Amelio, who informed us that Eduardo Samán’s candidacy for the Mayor’s Office of the Municipality Libertador (Caracas) had been “objected to”.
This announcement was made just one hour before the closing of the second extension for candidate nominations, which could have resulted in the APR remaining outside of the electoral contest in the capital of the country. The PCV sent a communication to the electoral body to denounce this decision which left Samán in a state of defenselessness , since it was not indicated what the legal grounds for the decision were.
Days later, dozens of intellectuals, artists, academics, educators and political actors issued a communiqué protesting the CNE’s decision and the violation of the rule of law it implied. The document, which was signed by, among others, former Supreme Court Justice Juan Rafael Perdomo, former constituent María Alejandra Díaz, and journalist Walter Martinez, warned that “what has happened with Professor Eduardo Samán and the Communist Party of Venezuela is not a personal attack or an attack on the leadership of a political organization, but rather a blow to the institution of democracy by actors whose raison d’être is to preserve it.“
“The institutional silence surrounding the case is aggravated by the absence of a pluralistic coverage of national political events, undermining respect for diversity and threatening to reduce our democracy to a soliloquy of those who hold power while disinformation apparatuses distort and deny the demands of the majorities,” the signatories added.
Media Censorship and More Disqualifications
Shortly after, the program “Lo de hoy es noticia” (Today’s News) was suspended, broadcasted by Televisora Regional Barinas TV and hosted by journalist Edecio García Sosa, who is currently a candidate for the APR for the Mayor of the Municipality of Barinas, Barinas State. After four years of broadcasting and public recognition as “the voice of those who have no voice”, García Sosa’s program was suspended by the director of the television station with a simple phone call. When asked for the reasons for his decision, the director only replied that he was “under a great deal of political pressure.”
On September 22, the CNE stated that two more candidates of the PCV would be disqualified by orders of the Comptroller General’s Office. They were retired General Nerio Galbán, candidate for the governorship of the state of La Guaira, and Miguel Angel Vásquez, candidate for Mayor of the Municipality of Peninsula de Macanao, in the state of Nueva Esparta. In this opportunity, the CNE demanded that the PCV substitute their nominations, to which the Political Bureau of the PCV responded that “The PCV does not accept pressures from the CNE”.
In a communiqué on Twitter, the leadership of the PCV, party of the Gallo Rojo (Red Rooster), stated that “the PCV will not make such substitutions until the CNE does not let stand this new violation, the violation of the political rights of the candidates Galban and Vásquez, as well as those of the PCV”. The entity in charge of the electoral processes effectively proceeded to eliminate both nominations, and a couple of days later, it prevented the PCV from the process of substitution of the candidacies, by blocking the access of the PCV to the automated nomination system when the deadline was still several hours away.
A delegation of the PCV went to the CNE headquarters to clarify the situation, and a CNE official reiterated that the automated system had already been closed, contradicting the official information of the electoral body about the period for the modification of nominations. In the opinion of the PCV, the arbitrary closing of the system in violation of the deadlines established by the CNE itself, demonstrates that “we are facing a political maneuver and not a technical error”.
In a communiqué to the CNE, the communists warned about the warned of the creation of “a scenario of open violation of the political rights of our organization and a blow to the Constitution and democracy in our country”. The communiqué added that “The PCV demands that the CNE rectify and restore the rights that we have to run and participate in the electoral process, as well as the cessation of the political harassment against our electoral card that expresses the Popular Revolutionary Alternative (Alternativa Popular Revolucionaria)”.
The Office of the Comptroller General of the Republic Does Not Respond
After the pronouncement of various sectors of public opinion on the disqualifications, two of the five CNE rectors joined with a communique. Rector Roberto Picón, in particular, rejected the use of the sanction of disqualification of candidates for the offices of mayors and governors to be elected on November 21. “We see with concern the entrance on the political scene of the country the use of the sanction of disqualification for the exercise of public office, in times in which an electoral process is approaching,” said Picón in a communiqué published on his Twitter account.
Rector Picón made reference to the cases of Samán and Leocenis García, representative of one of the right-wing opposition groups, whose candidacies for mayor of Caracas were blocked by the electoral body. “The aforementioned citizens announced their intention to exercise their political right to run for elected office, but they were surprised by last-minute decisions and were not notified properly or in a timely way,” added Picón.
For his part, the vice-president of the CNE, Enrique Márquez, denounced that the Comptroller General of the Republic refuses to give timely responses on the arbitrary and unjustified political disqualifications registered during the last few weeks. “We have made all efforts within the CNE so that in this and many other cases a decision is made in favor of the full restitution of the political rights of the affected citizens. However, the situation remains unchanged, mainly due to the refusal of the Comptroller’s Office to give timely responses,” said Rector Marquez.in a statement on Twitter.
“We are using this channel today to set a clear position on this situation and request a suitable and fair processing of these complaints. This, in the knowledge that such events affect the development of the dynamics to elect regional and local powers through a process that, in order to generate confidence, must guarantee transparency,” added Márquez.
-Translated by Kay Tillow