Maduro’s election plan: No participation, no choice

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro votes during local elections in Caracas, Venezuela, Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018. Venezuelans head to the polls Sunday to elect local city councils amid widespread apathy driven by a crushing economic crisis and threats of expulsion by opposition groups for candidates wh
TOPSHOT – A voter looks for his name at a polling station in Caracas during Venezuela’s municipal council elections, on December 9, 2018. – The election, in which opposition parties were banned from participating, comes one month before President Nicolas Maduro begins his second te

The illegitimate Maduro regime has been promoting its unconstitutional reshaping of the election of Venezuela’s National Assembly members with the social media tag #ParticipaYElige — “participate and choose.”

Nicolás Maduro’s attempt to undermine the election process of National Assembly members is further evidence of the regime’s deepening corruption, said Elliott Abrams, the U.S. Department of State’s special representative to Venezuela.

“The conditions for free and fair elections are actually much worse today than they were in May 2018, when Maduro held the presidential elections that democracies all over the world have said were fraudulent,” Abrams said July 28.

Given the importance of the upcoming election and the regime’s record of electoral deception, it’s worth examining what “participate” and “choose” mean to Maduro.

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro votes during local elections in Caracas, Venezuela, Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018. Venezuelans head to the polls Sunday to elect local city councils amid widespread apathy driven by a crushing economic crisis and threats of expulsion by opposition groups for candida

Participating in elections under Maduro

Recent history makes it clear Venezuelans face the threat of retribution if they stand up for their right to choose anyone who is not Maduro or his supporters.

In recent elections, Maduro:

  • Implemented the CLAP program — an acronym for Local Committees for Supply and Production — to distribute boxes of food only to those who promised to support Maduro.
  • Used the Fatherland Card to track who voted for Maduro and subsequently rewarded them with government-issued food boxes.
  • Sent doctors from Cuba’s international medical corps to poor neighborhoods and told residents they would lose their medical services if they did not vote for Maduro.
  • Stifled media coverage other than Maduro propaganda — even though Venezuelan election law dictates that all press coverage be free and fair. Because of censorship and self-censorship, opposition figures do not have equal access to the media.

Choosing without a choice

Maduro has already taken extreme measures to destroy democratic institutions he doesn’t like. He has also rigged past elections by getting rid of institutional regulations.

Maduro and his cronies have:

  • Dropped the practice of marking voters’ fingers with indelible ink after they cast their votes — which prevented citizens from voting more than once — in the 2018 presidential election. This may have contributed to a higher vote count for Maduro.
  • Engaged in voter suppression. Voter turnout was around 46 percent in 2018, while in years past the figure was closer to 80 percent. This suggests a coordinated effort to discourage voter turnout.
  • Disqualified the country’s most popular opposition politicians and parties.
  • Appointed pro-regime politicians to the Supreme Court, who then illegally replaced the National Electoral Council and heads of political parties.
  • Detained, forced into exile or revoked constitutional immunity for over 20 percent of the National Assembly’s deputies.

It is clear that the National Assembly elections planned in December will not be free or fair, nor will they be democratic, Abrams said.

“This is yet another demonstration that with Maduro still in power and in a position to manipulate the elections and their outcome there can be no free and fair election in Venezuela,” Abrams added.