The CNE Storage Fire is Anything But Clear

The incident, with still obscure origins, was used as usual to blame, insult and threaten the opposition; The potential recession due to the coronavirus and the low oil prices add up to the plagues scourging our nation.

Photo: El Periódico Venezolano, retrieved.
  • Last Saturday, March 7th, a fire broke out in the storage center of the Electoral Power, at Filas de Mariche. The National Electoral Council’s president, Tibisay Lucena, demanded an investigation the same day, suggesting sabotage. She announced the loss of 582 computers, 49,408 voting machines, 400 electronic ballots, 22,434 power inverters, 49,323 fingerprint readers and 127 ballots set for disincorporation. The detective body CICPC was assigned to investigate the matter. Lucena gave no info on what insurance company covers the event or what were the security failures. Eugenio Martínez, a journalist specialized in elections, pointed out that it’s possible to have new elections, despite the loss of machines at the site, with manual voting or new hardware. It’d be important then who would sell the equipment to Venezuela, given the sanctions. Martínez also said that the business of buying new machines will be very tempting and requires the willingness to change the entire automated system of voting, scrutiny, transmission and totaling. Anyway, the trust and credibility of the CNE has been at a total loss for a long time now.
  • Delcy Rodríguez says there will be parliamentary elections in Venezuela in 2020. She characterized the fire as “a right-wing sabotage” and took advantage of the occasion to insult Juan Guaidó (“Donald Trump’s puppet,” “a doll,” “thief of the people’s resources,” but didn’t explain which ones or how). She made a strange claim about the role of Venezuelan women and asked them not to reproduce capitalism or patriarchal gender oppression. Then she promised Maduro, the one who told us to have six babies (!): “President, you count with the train of avant-garde Venezuelan women.”
  • An unknown hooded group, self-appointed “Venezuelan Patriotic Front,” claimed responsibility for the CNE’s storage fire. The members announced the Sodoma operation, and promised to be alert of anyone who repressed the upcoming demonstration on March 10th, saying they won’t “rest until achieving the end of tyranny.” The group justifies its actions saying that the CNE has weakened the rights of citizens and carried out fraudulent elections.
  • As expected, Diosdado Cabello called chavismo to demonstrate next Tuesday, March 10th, the same date in which the opposition will mobilize to the Federal Legislative Palace. 
  • Five people died in a presumed clash between irregular armed groups in the Ayacucho municipality of the Táchira state. Security bodies informed that all victims were hit by projectiles. 
  • Juan Guaidó presented the National Sheet of Conflict at the Universidad Católica Andrés Bello. He informed that the document will be discussed at the legislative session on March 10th and suggested a route to celebrate a presidential election with guarantees, with the upholding of human rights. He insisted that we shouldn’t let the regime divide us and reiterated the invitation to gather at the Juan Pablo II square in Chacao next Tuesday, March 10th, to march to the Federal Legislative Palace. 
  • One year after the first mega blackout that left 90% of the country in the dark, there were blackouts again. This time they happened in zones that so far hadn’t suffered the long and disorganized rationing that many states in the west live every day and prevented them from returning to being completely operative. The Venezuelan Association of Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (Aviem) reported 33 transmission failures between January 1st and March 5th of 2020, which have increased the rationing. These failures confirmed the main structural weaknesses of the National Electrical System: most of the energy (more than 85%) has a hydroelectric origin and there isn’t enough capacity for local generation to meet the demand (even though it has decreased more than 40% since 2013). According to Aviem, the 3,000 megawatts that the system lost in March 2019 have not been restored. They alerted about Corpoelec’s mechanism of cannibalizing the systems of some operations to strengthen others, adding vulnerability to the system.
  • The states of Táchira, Mérida, Trujillo, Zulia, Barinas and Apure suffer and will continue to suffer electrical rationing due to the structural deficits of transmission of energy. Without enough gas, the thermoelectric power plants can’t operate. The installations of hydroelectric energy are too damaged because of lack of investment and poor management over the years. Since 2013, the country’s electric demand decreased to the level of 1998, a monumental regression for a service that’s key for development. 
  • Professor Francisco Monaldi explained on Sunday that the company Saudí Aramco made the largest oil price cut of the last two decades. Monaldi estimates that if the price war between Russians and Saudis expands, the surplus of supply combined with the shock of demand produced by the coronavirus could generate a collapse in the oil price. Monaldi pointed out that, for Venezuela, this collapse on top of the sanctions would be brutal. Bloomberg, on the other hand, informs that Venezuelan oil is already sold at great discount, so this collapse in oil price will be catastrophic for such a weak economy. The scenario of the recession is terrible for Venezuela in many aspects.

Naky Soto

Naky gets called Naibet at home and at the bank. She coordinates training programs for an NGO. She collects moments and turns them into words. She has more stories than freckles.