Following the script

For Monday, May 21, 2018. Translated by Javier Liendo.

Photo: Efecto Cocuyo


National Electoral Council chairwoman Tibisay Lucena proclaimed Nicolás’ victory as president with 92.6% of votes tallied, a 46.01% turnout and a 48% projection.

According to Lucena, Nicolás obtained 5,823,728 votes (67.7% of votes tallied); Henri Falcón, 1,820,552 (21.2%) and Javier Bertucci, 925,942 votes. These results gives Nicolás a 47-point advantage over Falcón, denying all estimates made by local pollsters and giving the man responsible for our humanitarian crisis, the biggest advantage in the history of presidential elections.

Journalist Eugenio Martínez says that abstention in this process has been the largest in our democratic history since 1958, adding that if CNE’s data is correct, 71% of citizens didn’t vote for this “re-election”. It took Nicolás just a year to eradicate three million votes compared with the imposed ANC election. Before Lucena’s statement, and not by accident, the military high command issued its own, with minister Padrino López pleased with turnout and minister Néstor Reverol glad for peace.

Another election, but fair

At 9:30 p.m., Henri Falcón said: “It’s clear today that this proposal of a sector of the country, of calling a sizable part of citizens to do nothing, no doubt has let pass an extraordinary possibility to bring this tragedy back on track,” adding that abstention increased the efficacy of the trap, without accepting his responsibility for the result, blaming citizens for everything.

All the variables he used to describe official advantage, he could’ve denounced during the campaign, including the violation of the agreement of electoral guarantees and the Constitution. Falcón said: “the process lacks legitimacy, and in that sense we disregard the electoral process,” but don’t worry, he’s willing to participate in other elections, as long as they’re fair. Aside from his mistakes, this last straw vanishes any distance between his stance (up to last night) and that of the rest of the opposition. Meanwhile, Javier Bertucci claimed that the agreement of electoral guarantees was fulfilled until Saturday and that based on the analysis he can make about the CNE’s results, he’ll decide whether he’ll recognize them or not. He also demanded that the election be repeated and that Nicolás refuses to run as candidate, cautioning him that “the country’s been beyond your control for a while now.”

A poor speech

After the cacerolazo caused by Tibisay Lucena’s announcement, the streets went silent as a grave, very much like they were throughout the day. No music, no celebrations. In Miraflores, with a group that served as his audience even though they weren’t smiling, Nicolás thanked the nobility, courage and bravery of voters, repeating several times that thanks to them he’ll be the President for the 2019-2025 period; but not without pointing out how much he’s been underestimated. Nicolás was the only one who didn’t understand this plebiscite and that’s why he called for a permanent dialogue, inviting defeated candidates, proclaiming them opposition leaders. He swore he’ll focus on recovering the economy that he destroyed and activating the engines that he broke down, also making threats and even giving a heads up of his plan: “Electoral processes are done for now. We have two years without elections for now, to focus on working”; and thus, he pushed the referendums against National Assembly lawmakers off the map. He didn’t say how many votes he’d lost and how many he’d obtained from the total of carnet holders (13 million people) but he did pay “homage” to red stations and the UBCh. He told the United States: “Calm down,” with the argument that Venezuela is the guarantee of stability.

Defeating fear

Abstention was as massive as expected. It’s early to understand what drove it, but all the coercion on social program beneficiaries; all the propaganda linking carnet de la patria records with votes and with it, the possibility of knowing who citizens voted for; all the CLAP boxes and the strange restocking of Bicentenario supermarkets, weren’t enough to mobilize chavista voters. It’s worth keeping in mind that, early in the morning, several journalists reported longer lines in red stations (scanning the carnet de la patria was a requisite to get the bonuses for voting) than in voting centers themselves. The incentive worked, but not the coercion; a message that should bring together that 71% who didn’t vote, because this wasn’t a fair election, because they don’t trust the electoral authority, because PSUV itself hollowed out the vote of any meaning, because it’s hard to find worse reprisals than the circumstances that we’re already living.

Expectations

Although the Broad Front issued several statements throughout the day, it’ll be today when they set a stance about the results, and the same goes for NGOs specialized in electoral matters such as the Venezuelan Electoral Observatory (@OEVenezolano) that maintained a detailed record of the irregularities denounced during the entire Sunday. Espacio Público did his part systematizing complaints about the difficulties faced by the national and international press to do their coverage job. Hyper-informed citizens on social media expected statements about the action plan, answers to the most repeated question in these last few days: What happens on May 21? We can only surmise that a sizable majority of the country holds to the overwhelming certainty of what they can’t solve: the collapse of basic services, hyperinflation, shortages of food, medicines and cash, the gradual shutdown of public transport and homicide and epidemiology rates. Will the political leadership provide answers this Monday?

Abroad

  • The Foreign Ministers of G20 member nations started a two-day meeting in Buenos Aires this Sunday to discuss the role of international institutions in the global governance system and the challenges presented by new technologies worldwide. Regarding Venezuela’s situation, U.S. State Secretary Mike Pompeo condemned the elections and demanded that Joshua Holt be released: “Watching Venezuela today.  Sham elections change nothing. We need Venezuelan people running this country…a nation with so much to offer the world,” he posted on Twitter.

  • Colombia used the closing of the border to clean the Simón Bolívar international bridge.
  • The governments of Panama and Chile ratified that they don’t recognize these electoral results.

  • France, Chile, China, Switzerland, Hungary, the United Kingdom, Australia, Norway and Spain were some of the countries were Venezuelan citizens protested against the election, from iconic spaces.

They can pretend they won, just like Nicolás waving his hands to the emptiness in his polling station, but silence is what it is. Nicolás didn’t win, he simply imposed himself with the help of a structure that has been developed through time, with no scrupules, no respect for appearances and much less for Venezuelans. Nicolás didn’t win.

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