Photo: Notiactual retrieved.
Venezuela’s Supreme Tribunal (TSJ) just imposed chavista student Jessica Bello as the new president of the University of Carabobo’s (UC) Student Federation, ignoring the actual results from two weeks ago, proving, for the millionth time, that the regime won’t accept losing elections, even at this level.
See, last November 14, elections for the UC’s Student Federation took place, following the arbitrary detention of former Federation president, Iván Uzcátegui, and Dining Hall director, Ramón Bracho. They were accused of corruption by Carabobo’s governor, Rafael Lacava. The night before the election, chavista student groups, supported by Lacava and Diosdado Cabello, named a new electoral commission to replace the one installed a year ago, led by student Eduardo León. The new commission, headed by chavista Law student Álvaro Londoño, claimed that León abandoned his post after failing to show up at meetings prior to the election. The move was described as a “coup” by Pablo Aure, the university’s secretary.
Two parallel elections took place, each one overseen by a different electoral commission, both marked by violence and armed groups rampaging through campus, allegedly under command of the governor’s office.
Student Federations here are made up and elected entirely by students. They’re an integral part of universities, but not at a judicial or administrative levels. Instead, they coordinate the student movements and satellite groups from both chavista and opposition political parties within all major universities. Federations are meant to fight for student’s rights, while working with different guilds to solve institutional and academic problems. Although their real power is limited, they’re a major force in protests and rallies, also incubating future politicians. Many well-known figures, like Tarek El Aissami, Hugbel Roa, Freddy Guevara, Miguel Pizarro and Juan Requesens, were all part of student movements and their Federations.
So, given their influence, student elections are a serious business.
A few hours after voting stations were closed at the UC, contradictory reports came from both electoral commissions. Londoño’s group claimed that chavista Jessica Bello won, without giving figures. This was quickly spread on social networks by Lacava.
Hoy triunfaron los estudiantes que apostaron a un cambio en la universidad de Carabobo y con coraje le dieron una lección histórica a las mafias q desde hace 15 años delinquian impunemente en contra de los estudiantes y comunidad universitaria en general #FueraMafiasDeLaUC pic.twitter.com/Pp0n281iMW
— Rafael Lacava (@rafaellacava10) November 15, 2018
León’s commission, however, announced through the University’s social networks that opposition candidate and med student, Marlon Díaz, had won with 6,083 votes, about 80% of the total.
— Universidad de Carabobo (@UCarabobo) November 14, 2018
A few hours later, Díaz proclaimed his victory, supported by university authorities who scrutinized the results:
Comunicado para la opinión pública nacional e internacional. Porque hoy #14nov en las elecciones de nuestra Universidad de Carabobo, ¡Hicimos historia y la seguiremos Haciendo! ¡Viva la Universidad!#EleccionesUC #HagamosHistoria #UnidadEstudiantil pic.twitter.com/ktG5kdYmb4
— Marlon Díaz G. (@marlonjesusd) November 15, 2018
The news went viral, with prominent figures from most opposition parties showing their support. Díaz’s victory was a small, yet much needed triumph for the heavily-hit oppo; some highlighted this result as proof that, with proper organization and unity, the government could be electorally beaten.
But last Tuesday, almost two weeks later, the TSJ admitted a request introduced by Bello, reminding everyone how elections work under chavismo. The Tribunal named Bello as the Federation’s president, since Eduardo León “usurped the functions of the legally constituted commission led by Álvaro Londoño.” The ruling is a perfect example of chavista pseudo-law.
The university’s response came quickly after, with a promise to “enforce its autonomy and its community’s will.”
La Universidad de Carabobo hará respetar la voluntad de su comunidad. Ningún ente externo vulnerará su autonomía. Somos respetuosos de las leyes y exigimos respeto para nuestros estudiantes .Mañana como rectora informaré la posición institucional.
— Jessy Divo De Romero (@jessydivo) November 28, 2018
So expect protests, and the repression they bring, in the coming days.
The TSJ’s decision comes just three weeks before the municipal elections, where only a fraction of the opposition will run. Chavismo is expected to win comfortably at those, and although the Federations are far from being key organizations for chavismo, this thing is about the message: We don’t impose our candidate because we need to, we do it because we can.
After all, what’s stealing a college election once you’ve neutered the entire National Assembly?