Presidential Elections: Venezuelan Youth’s Last Shot

Photos: Mabel Sarmiento

Although the National Electoral Council (CNE) opened the registry for data updates and the creation of new voter entries as stealthily as possible, word spread and for the past two weeks, there’s been constant registration lines at the electoral body’s Plaza Venezuela office. Young people decided to burn their last democratic round. They don’t trust the system, but they want to vote.

“Otherwise, I’d have to leave the country, and I don’t want that.”

That’s coming from Luis González, a young man who recently turned 18 and who left his home in El Junquito at 4:00 a.m. He took a perrera (trucks used for public transport) and crossed over 20 km to register as a voter. He carried a backpack with an arepa, a traditional Venezuelan dish that has become the privilege of a few.

Luis didn’t want to climb on the truck, but it was the only means to reach downtown Caracas that early in the morning.

“Just imagine, I’m 18, I have to stand in huge lines in order to eat and now I have to climb on a truck. I don’t want that. I want a free, safe Venezuela where people aren’t starving to death. That’s why I’ll vote. Even though I don’t trust the CNE, it’s a stage for participation that we can’t give up.”

He arrived at CNE offices at 7:30 a.m. After standing in line for almost a block, he managed to be among the 700 people who are registered everyday.

Young people decided to burn their last democratic round. They don’t trust the system, but they want to vote.

He went there expressly for the registration, but he made friends and he speaks his mind: “I went to every march in 2017, two of my friends died in the protests, all of my cousins are living abroad. And again, I don’t want to leave, I’ll wait for these elections. There’s no country like Venezuela, but it’s being destroyed and I want to live, to work on what I love, and I don’t have a chance here.”

His optimism comes and goes. When he talks about the future, he does so with determination but when his feet are back in the line, his eyes grow dark with despair. “We young people don’t deserve this.”

Aretsay Rodríguez agrees: “I’m here to support my country. I know it won’t be easy, with all the CNE’s tricks, but we have to do something. We young people are suffering. There are no jobs, no food, kidney patients die because there’s no dialysis.”

She travelled from Los Teques, Miranda, to formally register as a voter in Caracas. She tried to do it for two weeks with no luck. “But I managed to get them to take my ID today (the first 700 people in line have to surrender their IDs to get entry to CNE offices) and I’ll finally register. It’s a big step. This will be my first vote, because I don’t want to leave my country.”

Dodging the trap

While I talk with Luis and Aretsay, others who are standing in line approach. They didn’t think their first vote would demand such a tortuous track.

Years ago, citizens who reached legal age could readily and gladly register with a system whose credibility and operation weren’t in question.

Since the socialist revolution took over Venezuela, there’s been 19 elections in 17 years and the opposition has called out a fraud in most of them, considering the regime’s multiple electoral violations: no electoral registry updates, no indelible ink, no candidate replacements, voters are relocated in the last minute to other voting stations and abundant proselytism, among other irregularities that have slowly eroded citizen participation.

CNE is completely subservient to the chavista regime. “We know they’ve got the trap set up, but we still have hope, perhaps because we’re young,” says a girl who’s also a single mom and can’t imagine herself leaving her baby with her family as she emigrates. “Because that’s what’s happening, moms leave the country and their children. Why should I miss the first years of my son’s life? What this government does is unfair. I want to vote, so I don’t have to leave.”

A rosary of sorrows

David Rodríguez also made the trip from Los Valles del Tuy at 4:00 a.m. along with two friends. There’s no stable public transport at that time of day and that area is quite unsafe, but he braved all of that.

He stood in line a bit farther back from Luis and Aretsay, but he’d still get to register that day. He’s not overly excited for the implications of that civic act, he’s got a rosary of sorrows on his back: “We don’t get much of a chance to grow here. I’m also thinking of leaving; I want to vote, hope is the last thing we lose. Now everything depends on the candidates. Everything’s about money here and it might end up being a fraud.”

With his arms crossed, David’s optimism, unlike Luis’, is in shambles. “They always cheat.”

Last-ditch hope

It’s 9:30 a.m. and they still have half a block to go. Some eat their breakfast while in line, others are sitting in the garden before the CNE’s office.

Many have left the country and what we’re doing is an act of courage.

“I hope they don’t say the system went down,” says Érika Castillo, another potential voter for the upcoming April 22 elections. “Because that’s the other issue. We come here and sometimes we can’t do what we’re here for.”

Castillo also got up early to leave her home in La Rinconada, Coche parish. “This will be my first vote and what a vote. My family and friends, many have left the country and what we’re doing is an act of courage. We’re coming before a CNE riddled with vices and here we are, standing in line because we don’t want to keep suffering to find food and jobs. Many of us leave school to help our parents. We want a change to stop this.”

I got the feeling that these young citizens burn with the desire to stay, to grow and build their families. I understood that they’re only being forced to emigrate because of the actions of a criminal regime that has taken over production, food and medicine distribution, the media, public transport and services just to stay in power.

Venezuelan citizens turning 18 have until February 20 to register. The current dilemma is whether to vote or not; many think that turning up for elections is once again validating the CNE and others think that not doing so is leaving the streets empty for madurismo.

The one truth is that many of these new voters are determined to make the most of this last round.

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  1. Who exactly could they vote for that, if said person won, would make the slightest difference? Maybe that was not the point of the article, but I don’t get the “if I don’t vote, I have to leave the country” theme –

    • Anyone who isnt Maduro or any member of his clique would make a better president , we dont need demigods or heroes just anyone who isnt tainted with the Psuv love of open corruption and absolute power , this is no ordinary situation , you dont choose a pure perfectly lovable candidate , just anyone who can give us a chance for getting out of this hole …….. Anyone voting for Maduro is a masochist…….!!

      • Ok. I was just asking who that might be. I realize this is hypothetical, since this is a sham, but do you mean Falcon? To say I vote or leave the country does not make sense unless there is a candidate worth staying for.

  2. “Otherwise, I’d have to leave the country, and I don’t want that.”

    Nobody wants that. But sometimes, you gotta do what you gotta do.

    It is commendable that the youth are going through the motions, despite the known outcome. It means they are thoughtful and motivated. And in the end, you may very well have to vote with your feet.

    I have been to Venezuela about a dozen times over the last 30+ years. Beautiful mountains, beaches, and for the most part, the people. That being said, there are other countries with so much to offer… especially the opportunity to grow and self actualize.

    Don’t get caught in the trap that says, “I have to live in (fill in the blank)” because you don’t. The Mrs and I have been all over the United States, and seen a good chunk of the world, and though we have some favorite places we would LOVE to retire to, none of them are outside of the States, BECAUSE of the political system. Not in spite of it.

    If the political situation is unbearable, LEAVE. If you have the opportunity.

  3. Why do you call this “Last-ditch hope”? Arguably this was last year when the people were protesting (and it would not have been an electoral change, mind you). Trying to oust these people through electoral means is a waste of time and, after so many attempts and the clear cheating that went on, people who keep trying are fools.

  4. What would be good to do is to ask these kids where they get their news from. That is, are they highly informed voters, or are mental midgets well suited to be miserable communists? It sounds like the later from what is stated above.

    I think the real resistance needs to have a NO VOTE election campaign to educate these village idiots.

    • I get mine from Russian bots programmed by the White Supremacy Patriarchy Misogyny cos gender shitlord Society (they meet twice a month at their secret temple). I would never have known until Harrison helped me connect the dots.

    • So it would reportedly work if enough Bitcoiners would donate 1% of their holdings…how do you translate “¿Quién le pone el cascabel al gato?”

  5. This is CC at its best. Reporting about the young people in line to register is revealing and is virtually uniique. Excellent work Mabel Sarmiento. As an outsider I have read in the comments here that all is lost and there is no hope because all the good people have left. This story presents an opposite view which is why I found it compelling. Thanks

  6. Is there a political party in Venezuela that is fiscally conservative and socially (fill in the blank)?

    Because when I read through the various Venezuelan political party manifestos and platforms, they all seemed too eager to spend someone elses money in order to placate voters….err…. buy votes. I don’t believe I found a SINGLE political party in Venezuela that sought responsible fiscal stewardship.

    Is there a libertarian-type party in Venezuela?

    Or a “tea party” party that advocates for
    Fiscal responsibility,
    Constitutionally limited government, and
    Free markets

      • Well that was the republicans until November ‘16.. (platform to balance budget within 10 years, cut spending except military, etc). what happened there?

        • I’ve looked at the party platform of every single major (5% or more) political party in Venezuela, and nothing comes close to being a party of fiscal responsibility. You would be hard pressed to find one that couldn’t be called “Chavismo Lite”.

          I doubt I could live in such a place. Its hard enough living in the Peoples Republic of Minnesota… the Land of 10,000 Taxes. But, since we aren’t REQUIRED to live here forever, we are already looking at low tax states to retire to. (South Dakota and Wyoming, for example)

          Who knew that my Venezuelan bride (and half her family) would be so tolerant of winter weather?

          • “the Land of 10,000 Taxes” … Ha!

            Back in the day, I had friends living in the Twin cities area who called it “the Land of 10,000 Big Butts”

  7. To suggest anyone has “a shot” at the obviously bogus ‘elections’ is beyond pathetic at this point.. to put it nicely. The only “last shot” has a first and last name: Rex Tillerson.

    I say let’em vote, the more the merrier, let the circus go on. Let’em take perreras or whatever, bitch about Maduro, vote for the MUD clowns. The bigger the Mega-Fraud, the better. Hopefully that will pave the way for my buddy Rex and severe economic sanctions. Let’s see how long will this supposedly “bravo pueblo” last, after the USA shuts down the only cash cow that’s left: 40 fresh Million US$ per day for the oil.

    The more arrechos they get, the better. Go vote, en masse!!

    Easier for Rex to put down the hammer in May.

  8. I never voted before. Considering doing it now.

    Could be like in chess. The opponent has considerable advantages in pieces and position, but in their hubris overlook a simple but fatal weakness that leads to check mate in two moves.

    If you already embraced defeat, however, you will not see the window. Talented players continúe playing under circumstances that make less experienced players think them stupid.

    • Hey Eñe, you sound like a Russian troll. Yes, the Russians are also great at chess–often times world champions– and they also had a relvolucion bonita that lasted almost a century.

      Please explain how participating in farce elections furthers the cause of freedom in Venezeula???

      Please, give us the details of your argument FOR voting in this farce election??? To most of us here, who are well educated, it sound like a retarded idea.

      Until you do that, you sound like you work for G2 or KGB and are just trying to confuse the issue and otherwise split and demoralize the opposition…or one of those people who like to disagree just to disagree. Your chess argument at this moment does not pass the smell test.

      The world says DO NOT VOTE!!! NO MEANS NO!!!

      Poeta is right, Rex gets the last word.

      • I truly think my buddy Rex, and smart leaders like Macron and Macri are waiting for the Chavista Criminal Tyranny to self destruct a bit more, implode even more after the obvious mega-fraud to come, and when the pueblo-people and malcontent mid-level military are even more miserable and pissed off at the narco-regime, when the economy is even worse than now, Kaboom – time to strike.

        The final blow right in the middle of a perfect storm : another stolen election, plus unprecedented international condemnation solidarity, plus beyond horrific socio-economic conditions, plus utter hatred for Maduro and other thugs.. THEN they deliver the first severe economic sanctions, after cutting worldwide commercial relations, pulling out ambassadors including the Grupo de Lima 12 nations.

        Under those conditions do tell how long can the regime last, the only CASH it now has to bribe the millions of enchufados and thousands of corrupt top-military are the $40 Million per day that Rex’s administration supplies.

        Where, pray tell, are they going to get 40$ Million per day, in Cash, for the heavy oil?


        How long do the 5 Million enchufados and the corrupt military that supports Chavismo last without their monthly bribes, in that rotten economy?

        • The corrupt military/Govt./enchufado higher-ups can last forever on narco income equal to yearly Country oil income. Question is, how long can intentionally/unintentionally collapsing the private economy (Consecomercio says 70-80% of private commerce is shut-down year-to-date) last without some kind of push-back??

        • Yo creo que estamos lidiando con fanáticos y que su respuesta a un bloqueo económico sería sangrienta y radical. Si no existe la voluntad de invadir Venezuela militarmente justo después, las sanciones económicas sólo desencadenarían más violencia por parte de la dictadura contra los ciudadanos.
          Fue lo que pasó en Cuba.
          El comunismo vive de los bloqueos y las las sanciones.
          No es que esté en contra de medidas de ese tipo, pero si no van a ser acompañadas de acciones militares no sirven para nada.
          Las elecciones no significan nada porque no hay liderazgo. La decadencia intelectual y moral de los supuestos líderes de oposición hace inviable cualquier tipo de solución política.
          Las elecciones no son libres y no tiene sentido participar en ellas, pero si existiera un liderazgo auténtico con autoridad moral y facultades comunicativas , quizás podríamos sacar algún provecho de ellas.


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