Venezuelans will go to the polls on November 21 to elect state governors, mayors, regional legislators and local councils.
The election campaign will officially begin on October 28. This time, the many varied parties of the opposition have decided to run, rather than boycott, including the right-wing Democratic Action ticket leader, Bernabe Gutierrez. Democratic Action has pulled together 20 political groupings.
The details of the opposition’s participation were hammered out in a round-table meeting in Mexico, without the presence of the US or Canada. There are 70,000 candidates from 111 political parties to contest 3082 positions (23 governors, 335 mayors, 253 lawmakers and 2471 councillors) with an average of 23 candidates per post.
The Venezuelan government hosted an international online forum on October 19, to brief 160 attendees from the Asia Pacific region about the elections.
The meeting began with a condemnation of the Constitutional Court of Cape Verde, an African island in the Atlantic Ocean, for allowing the extradition to the United States of Venezuelan special envoy Alex Saab.
Saab was detained by Interpol and Cape Verdean authorities during a technical stopover at the Amilcar Cabral Airport in June last year. He is accused of money laundering and conspiracy. This arbitrary action was justified by the existence of an international arrest warrant issued by the US, which considers him a “front man” for Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro.
Cape Verde’s Constitutional Court approved his extradition on September 7.
It is an illegal kidnapping and a violation of international law. Saab was on his way to Iran to negotiate trade for essential food items and medicines for the Venezuelan people, suffering under COVID-19. It is likely the US government will torture him to find out how Venezuela was able to manoeuvre bank accounts to circumvent US-imposed sanctions.
The Maduro government has invited a large number of observers to attend the elections. However, the recent statement by European Union High Commissioner for Foreign Affairs Joseph Borrel, that the EU would determine the legitimacy of the elections, rather than the Venezuelan Electoral Council (CNE), has put that delegation of 11 people in doubt.
This is an arrogant dismissal of Venezuela’s sovereignty, reflecting his blatant bias against the Maduro government. This is the first time the EU has accepted Venezuela’s invitation to observe elections since 2006.
In the forum, Francisco Torealba, Maria Quijada and Eduardo Piñatethe candidate for the governor of Apure state on the border with Colombia, spoke of the need to break the circle of oppressive imperialism and the economic blockade. There are 400 sanctions against Venezuela, legislated by former US president Donald Trump, which have not been lifted by president Joe Biden. Venezuela has little access to imported medicines, machinery, equipment and food. Palestinian-Venezuelan, Issam Alkhawaja, called on the Arabic working class for their support to overcome the criminal blockade.
Matthew Robson, a former member of the New Zealand parliament spoke about the achievements of the Hugo Chavez and Maduro governments and their example of struggle. Talks by Daniel Gaspari, Venezuelan consulate in Australia and Adan Chavez, the Venezuelan ambassador in Cuba ended the session.