Desolation and Fear Reign on Election Day at Gran Misión Vivienda Venezuela

A young mother living in a State’s Housing Program building had to suck it up on election day, afraid of Big Brother’s reprisal for not voting... or was it opportunism?

Photo: Nueva Sociedad

“On election day,” Gloria says, “I heard some fireworks at four in the morning. After that, everything was calm. Even for a Sunday.”

Most of her neighbors vote at the new center inside her apartment building, opened in one of the many quiet moves by the National Electoral Council. Being inside a condo, voters can be easily pressured, at least in theory: “That day, I heard fireworks really early, some boys playing loud music and, after 15 minutes, everything went really quiet.”

She’s a young mother of two, her oldest is five years old, and they’ve lived in a Misión Vivienda building for three years now. She doesn’t want to tell me her real name and she’s emphatic when asking: “Don’t write my address in the article, please. You never know.”

No more than 20 people woke up early to open that voting center. “Desolation,” Gloria says. “I can only describe it like that. Nobody knocked on my door to tell me to go vote, not even in the WhatsApp group of neighbors.”

She did vote, though. “Just in case.”

“You could see the disappointment in people’s faces. You go out of fear, and you hear people angry for a CLAP that didn’t arrive, or problems with the elevator, the electricity…”

The process was fast, there was only one woman in line before her. A man asked her if she knew the system and that same person tried to walk with her to the actual voting station, “like he wanted to see my vote. I laughed and walked faster than him. He did that with everyone.”

All the voters had to go to the Punto Rojo then, even if in this case there was no theatrics. It was just a table that the voting station crew pointed at, so you scan your Carnet de la Patria and go home. Gloria did as she was told. “Maybe I’ll get a bonus for this, you know?”

Unlike any other Sunday, there was no salsa or merengue. Quieter than the first day of the year, the only hassle came when results were announced — five minutes of fireworks before silence shouted again.

One week later, nothing has changed.

“Yes, he won, but we still have the same issues. The CLAPs have disappeared, we have water once a week, power comes and goes and crime still makes the rules.”

She pauses to look out the window and the light accentuates the bags under her eyes.

“I’m not happy with my vote,” she says, “but have you seen anyone better?”