The opposition wins the governor’s vote in the heart of Chavismo


Superlano was disqualified on November 29 when he was less than a percentage point ahead of outgoing governor Argenis Chávez, one of Hugo Chávez’s brothers. Superlano’s wife, who was chosen to succeed him, was also disqualified. His replacement too.

Argenis Chávez resigned his governorship following Superlano’s disqualification and did not compete in the special election, leaving the governor’s vote free for a member of the Chavez family for the first time in addition to two decades. The ruling party then chose Arreaza as a candidate.

In choosing Arreaza, President Nicolas Maduro said the ruling party needed a new candidate “to come to the rescue”. The party rallied its base, urging unity, and even ended a system of gasoline rationing that the residents of Barinas hated. But it was enough for many people angry with the lack of basic services like gas, water and electricity, poor health services and hunger due to food shortages.

Arreaza conceded the contest on Sunday evening before the results were announced by election officials.

“The information we have received from our structures (from the ruling party) indicates that although we increased the number of votes, we did not meet the target,” Arreaza tweeted. “I warmly thank our heroic activism. We will continue to protect the people of Barinas in all regions.”

Before dawn on Sunday, government leaders and ruling party supporters gathered in a rally, chanting, “Chávez lives, and in Barinas the homeland continues!”

The importance of the election did not escape voters.

“I am very excited to participate again so that we can finally move forward on this issue which started on November 21,” said Luisa Contreras, 70, before entering a polling center.

The number of votes for the ruling party has been declining since 2017 across the country. About 6.5 million people voted for pro-government candidates in the regional elections that year. On November 21, that number fell to around 3.7 million.

The High Court of Venezuela, which is one of many government bodies considered loyal to Maduro’s government, disqualified Superlano even though he had received a presidential pardon that returned the candidate and other members of the opposition eligible for regional elections in November.

The measures taken in Barinas have raised new doubts about the fairness of Venezuela’s electoral system after the first poll in years in which most of the major political parties participated.

“The beautiful Barinas, where they started, end,” opposition leader Juan Guaido tweeted Sunday evening, referring to the cradle of Chavismo. “United, we will defend the will of a powerful majority that will not surrender, and it will not, until we review democracy in Venezuela.”

The regional elections in November were monitored by more than 130 observers from the European Union, the UN and the US-based Carter Center.

A preliminary report by European Union observers concluded that the competitions had run under better conditions than other Venezuelan polls in recent years, but were still marred by “structural deficiencies”, including the disqualification of candidates from the election. ‘opposition.

The EU team did not comment on the situation in Barinas, but a Carter Center report criticized the court’s intervention.

“There was also a general atmosphere of political repression, and more than 250 people are being held as political prisoners,” the center said. “The recent court decision to suspend the counting of votes for the post of governor of Barinas is another example of its interference in the electoral process.


Garcia Cano reported from Mexico City.


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