Photo: Diario La Nación

Nicolás can feel a bit more relaxed with the validity of his electoral circus on April 22, although every one of his fake contenders are chavista dissidents. Aside from evangelical pastor Luis Alejandro Ratti and engineer Reinaldo Quijada, yesterday the former soldier Francisco Visconti went to the CNE, claiming that he’s presenting his option to “structurally transform the Venezuelan State and hand power back to the people”; remember that one? Visconti asked the CNE for equality and fairness in the process, demanding that Nicolás leave his post during the campaign and until the election. Visconti was involved in the failed coups on February 4 and November 27, 1992, and that same year he fled the country and requested political asylum in Peru, to return in 1994 and run for the Aragua state governorship the following year. He lost. In 1999, he was a member of the National Constituent Assembly for Barinas; and in 2000, he was a candidate to the Barinas Governorship. He lost again. For some strange reason, he thinks he can win in the ANC-imposed reelection of Nicolás.

Only public employees

With an flimsy audience around him, Nicolás arrived at the Diego Ibarra square after fulfilling the step of visiting el finado’s tomb in the Military Museum. With one of the vehicles from the multidimensional exercise, better painted than Cilia Flores’ hair, the background of his stage was set with a vulgar copy of Soviet communist iconography, changing the profiles of Lenin and Stalin for his own and el finado’s.

Photo: Diario Las Américas

Héctor Rodríguez introduced him. Nicolás dedicated part of his speech to boost hard feelings (he chose February 27 for a reason, after all) and attacked the opposition, while promising to conquer the 10 million votes that Chávez couldn’t accomplish in his best moment. In fact, he claimed that his “engine does work,” that he’s physically prepared for his candidacy, a daring wink since Chávez was the only candidate who has run for president with an ongoing terminal disease. His memorable phrase: “All opposition candidates have guarantees, the only guarantees I will never give them is that they beat me in elections.” Aside from the deeply red attire, the investment in confetti and VTV’s effort to get favorable takes to add some audience in the empty spots, Nicolás didn’t look comfortable or secure.

The other chavista

Public media has censored any statements from opposition leaders for many years. Yesterday Henri Falcón’s registration before the CNE was broadcast live, proving what he is. Sadly, he didn’t rehearse the long text he read for almost an hour, so he made all kinds of mistakes: pronunciation, pitch, modulation and, of course, coherence. He spoke of the mark left by his administration in Lara (where he lost by a landslide in October last year); he requested that elections be postponed (the only offer made by the Rodríguez siblings) and asked for social and political coercion to be abolished or at least removed from voting stations. So cute. He called himself “the candidate of prosperity and salvation” and for an even stranger reason than Visconti, he claimed to be assured of his victory. In the same event where he breaks away from MUD and mocks the decision not to participate in elections for lack of conditions, he remarked that he’ll assemble a government of national unity.

Last night, MUD repudiated Falcón’s registration:

“With this decision, Henri Falcón steps away from the Coalition as well as the democratic feeling of the Venezuelan people. We cannot validate a fraudulent electoral system.”

Is the other evangelical pastor, Javier Bertucci, so committed to his candidacy that his registration was formalized by a representative?

Non-negotiable conditions

The Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) sent a document to Nicolás titled “Non-negotiable conditions for a free election in Venezuela,” in which they restated their willingness to participate in elections as long as the democratic guarantees they demand are respected.

“These elections, in those conditions, won’t solve anything (…) they will close the only escape valve for national tension,” the document reads. Among other conditions, MUD demands that elections are set within the schedule established by law, with international observation from the start of the process, the immediate and agreed appointment of two new CNE authorities, equal opportunities for all candidates in media outlets, the suspension of mandatory TV and radio broadcasts during the entire campaign and the reversal of political party invalidations.

Humanitarian aid

Yesterday, the Inter American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) demanded that the Venezuelan government allow access of humanitarian aid: “The IACHR not only urges but in fact demands that the Venezuelan State accepts the humanitarian aid being offered because it’s obvious that for whatever reasons, it can’t fulfill its duty and the guarantee of protecting essential rights,” said Francisco Eguiguren, IACHR rapporteur in Venezuela. The Venezuelan State, represented by the executive secretary of the National Human Rights Council, Larry Devoe, offered an abject performance and blamed the crisis we suffer on the financial sanctions imposed by the U.S. in August 2017. Francisco Eguiguren schooled him, explaining that receiving humanitarian aid isn’t an ideological matter because “people’s lives are at risk,” and Devoe claimed: “Venezuela has the capacity to purchase and provide the required resources to its people. Venezuela doesn’t need anyone to give us anything.”

Abroad

  • UN Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees (Acnur) Kelly Clements acknowledged that the exodus of Venezuelan refugees is concerning and that they’re analyzing the situation to find a better solution.
  • Nikki Haley, U.S. ambassador in the UN, said that Venezuela is one of her country’s greatest concerns because “we’ve seen how a successful democracy has turned into dictatorship,” saying that they’ll continue to work with OAS “to see what can be done.”
  • Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said that the normalization of political and diplomatic relations with Spain depends on the government of Madrid. His Spanish counterpart Alfonso Dastis said that there’s no chance for now that Spain and Venezuela exchange ambassadors once again after both countries expelled their respective diplomats in January.
  • Yesterday, a group of eleven U.S. senators presented a resolution against “the repressive and anti-democratic actions of the Venezuelan government,” on which they also call for the holding of free and fair elections, establishing that any election that doesn’t comply with international standards will be deemed illegitimate. The text says that the Senate will ask the Venezuelan government to postpone the presidential elections set for April 22.
  • Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski said that American countries must think of a way to help improve Venezuela’s critical situation.

Yesterday was the 29th anniversary of February 27th, 1989. The dimension of this humanitarian crisis far exceeds the conditions that explained the Caracazo.

Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.