To live in Ciudad Guayana is to know state-owned enterprise workers —lots of them. With all the nationalized “basic industries” around here, they’re a normal part of daily life. So I called around some of the ones I know to ask about today’s vote. The stories I heard were… remarkably similar.

José at Ferrominera

At Ferrominera, the big mining company in Guayana, workers are being forced to vote for the Constituent Assembly. The deal is simple: vote or you’re fired. At each department, the manager is responsible for making sure his people vote.

“I don’t know what I’ll do if I get fired,” he says. “My daughter is in the hospital.”

There’s nothing subtle about it. The order comes face-to-face, in notices and even via text message. Employees must go to meetings where the order is to vote. Nobody cares who they vote for —this is a single party election, man. Managers are required to make lists with the ID numbers of the employees voting, and send them to human resources by Monday.

José —not his real name— has worked at Ferrominera for 15 years. “They make everyone vote, especially those in higher positions.”

José isn’t voting, though. He’s not wealthy and he doesn’t have a plan B if they fire him, but he’s taking the chance.

“I don’t know what I’ll do if I get fired,” he says. “My daughter is in the hospital, I guess my wife and I will go with her. I don’t know.”

In his office, where barely ten people work, everyone has agreed to boycott the election. But, he adds, many others are compelled out of fear.

Maria’s mom at PDVSA

Martha —like all names, changed for this story— wouldn’t talk to me. I had to approach her daughter María instead. She talked to me in secret, without telling her mom. “I know her, there’s no way she’ll agree to an interview. She’s too scared”.

She must report to her boss the exact voting center she went to, and the time she went at.

Martha didn’t go to the vote drill. Her boss harassed her and the other employees with constant texts, but there was only one voting center in Ciudad Guayana, and it was too far to consider it.

For the real thing, the pressure is absurd. She must report to her boss the exact voting center she went to, and the time she went at. Martha will try a null vote. She’s been in PDVSA for more than 20 years.

Betania’s dad at Venalum

Betania’s dad wouldn’t talk to me (see a pattern?), but his daughter, an old friend, told me what he told the family. Her dad has been working for the big aluminum-maker way before chavismo was a thing: 25 years total.  

I just wish they burn all of the voting machines, so no one can vote. I hate this fucking government with all my soul.

On Sunday, workers are being told to go to the plant first thing. They’ll be put on buses to the voting centers. Managers are responsible for making sure the workers participate, and have lists saying where each worker votes. They must show up in the company’s uniform too —for the picture.

Betania’s dad is determined to vote. He has to protect his job; he’s about to retire, he won’t risk it. His family thinks he should stay home today. “Here, they’ll block the road at 5 am” Betania tells me, “so he might not be able to leave. We want him to stay, something might happen on the way there.”

She catches her thoughts.

“I just wish they burn all of the voting machines, so no one can vote. I hate this fucking government with all my soul.”

Jorge in the Army

Military officers are forced to vote, just like any other state worker. As soldiers, they have to follow orders, or face trial by insubordination.

I wish I could reveal more about my guy, but he wouldn’t let me. He’s a military officer and it’s from el interior. He doesn’t want to vote, and his plan is to show up, say hi and walk out. By showing himself, he thinks, he’ll be off the hook.

I reached out to people at two other state companies, but they refused to talk, even after I offered to change their names. The fear of dismissal makes getting the stories extremely hard, and look at the pattern I discovered: threats are explicit, demands are crystal clear and the workers? Extremely resentful of the position they’ve been put in.

19 COMMENTS

    • I have a relative who is a General (recently retired). He doesn’t like the regime at all but he feels he can’t do much becose would lose the juicy retirements benefits. He owns a Luxury SUV so expensive that no-insurance company would cover. My guess is that he is expecting the no trained Resistance of Venezuela to scarify their lives so one day he can safely drive his SUV around. This situation makes me puke and we should dissolve the military immediately after this nightmare is over for failing to do their job. They failed Venezuela.

      • One of the 3000 “Generals” and i use that term loosely.
        One thing i know having spent 22 years in a real warfighting military, is that Venezuela does not have one.
        But good luck on your task of dissolving it.
        “Verba vana aut risui non loqui”

  1. I just viewed the video of the explosion that injured some police.
    Immediately after the explosion you can hear people cheering and clapping.
    Kill every single person that supports this oppressive regime!

  2. I’m watching VTV on YouTube…fantastic…and as the day goes on, you can see it in Maduro’s eyes:

    He knows he’s a dead man walking.

    It shows.

  3. As of 4 PM there were not 1.5 million votes cast.
    Less than 7% of the electoral roll participated in the fraudulent ANC.
    The MUD needs to grab the initiative. 7 million stood in line to support them, 93% refused to support the regime.
    The MUD is the only legitimate functioning government that Venezuela has.
    The MUD needs to immediately appoint a transitional government with a President that can negotiate with other countries to request for the required assistance needed to right this terrible wrong. Possibly making commitments to repay the countries that offer assistance after the regime is gone.
    I still believe that the mighty national guard and armed forces soldiers would soil themselves and go into hiding if they believed a US military intervention was inevitable.
    Trump may be able to bluff the government into a collapse.

  4. Well, as the events unfold it seems that Venezuela has been taken hostage no just by Maduro but by a corrupt Armed Forces.
    The hope after the July 16th referendum was to clearly let know the world and specially the Military where the Venezuelan people stand. Obviously they have failed miserably to do their most important job.
    Given this unfortunate situation it would be years and years before the Armed Forces give up power by themselves regardless Maduro is “President” or not. Marches, Violent protest and Diplomatic threats would never make them surrender power and expose themselves to justice

    At this point we have three options.
    1. Arm the opposition to fight our own Armed Forces of shame.
    2. External Force intervention.
    3. Give up and live the rest of our lives in shame and humiliated by these subhumans.

  5. Toro, 4. Sanctions that cut off the only thing that matters to the armed forces, money. Without it we’re headed for the Full Cuba.

    • Problem with Sanctions is that the Armed Forces would be the last to starve. Before that, most people would be leaving Venezuela creating a serious refugee crisis in the region.
      Besides there could be unexpected factors like China helping the regime with loans and food sabotaging the sanctions objectives. Brazil could elect another Foro de Sao Paulo goverment, FARC gains power in Colombia , etc
      In the best case the armed forces rise against the regime, but it won’t be because of Democratic values but simple survival needs.
      Then how can we trust that such amoral subhumans will protect a Democratic government post-maduro.
      We would need to dismiss the armed forces and start from scratch.
      I guess the key here is how much we could trust the military.

      Sanctions work for lesser things like policy change, etc but for Regime Change sanctions won’t be enough.
      We need to get a grasp of what we are facing here.

  6. Did MUD took the right strategy not to participate? They could have fielded their candidates and easily won a majority and render the Constituent Assembly worthless. Now Maduro has a powerful tool to smash them.

    • Jeez how naive. The oppossition did win the National Assembly by supermajority despite cheating some votes. However the narcoregime never recognize them or let them execute their constitutional duties.
      Fool me once, shame on you.
      Fool me twice shame on me.

  7. Por un grupito de militares que ostentan bienestar para ellos y familia…privilegios únicos. No se atreven a pensar y dar la cara por aquel inmenso pueblo que es mayoría, sobre todo niños que esta sufriendo y padeciendo calamidades para comer… conseguir medicina, ohhh Dios lo básico para subsistir. Ahora sera peor porque se perpetuaran en el poder en contra del pueblo… Dios los perdone por todo el mal que hacen.

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