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Venezuela elects a National Assembly whose legitimacy is in question beforehand

With the bulk of the opposition betting on the boycott, Maduro has said that if he loses Chavismo he will leave the Presidency

Venezuelans are called this Sunday to elect the new National Assembly that will take over from the one led by the opposition since 2015 and ‘Chavismo’ deprived of powers, in elections boycotted by the main opposition parties and from the international community, With the United States and the EU leading the way, it has already been made clear that they will not be recognized.

Despite calls to postpone the appointment with the polls and give more room to a possible dialogue between the government and the opposition to get Venezuela out of the serious crisis in all the areas in which it is plunged, President Nicolás Maduro has remained firm in his defense of the date of December 6, based on the fact that the Constitution establishes it and not respecting it would be breaking it.

The efforts of dialogue from the EU and the way open to a possible solution to the crisis raised in September by the opposition and former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles have been of no use, who starred in a resounding departure from the hard core of the opposition by not rejecting the holding the elections but betting on a postponement that would allow them to be held with guarantees and in the presence of international observers.

Thus, the more than 20.7 million Venezuelans registered on this occasion will have to elect the 277 members that the new National Assembly will have, of which 52 percent will be chosen through the proportional system (144 deputies) and 48 percent (133 deputies) through the nominal system. In total, there are more than 14,000 candidacies from more than a hundred parties.

These parties will not include the main opposition parties grouped around the current president of the National Assembly, Juan Guaidó, whom a large part of the international community recognizes as the legitimate president of the country since in January 2019 he proclaimed himself president in charge of Venezuela and the objective will be to put an end to Maduro’s “usurpation” of the Presidency.

The opposition has opted for the electoral boycott, denouncing that the elections do not have the guarantees to be free, democratic and fair, given that ‘Chavismo’ is the one that controls all the organs of the State, including the National Electoral Council (CNE ), in charge of organizing these elections.

His thesis has received the support of his main allies in these almost two years, starting with the United States, the first country to recognize him, but also the European Union, including Spain, as well as other regional partners, who have already made it clear that they will not be able to Recognize the result of elections that they do not consider meet the required guarantees.

Although there will be an opposition presence, a fact that the Government has taken advantage of to defend the legitimacy of the elections, this will be a minority. Thus, the elections are attended by some small parties, such as the one led by Henri Falcón, who left the Chavez ranks to be a presidential candidate in the 2018 elections – whose victory at the hands of Maduro has not been recognized by the international community – and is now leading Advanced Progressive.

This party, together with Cambiemos, El Cambio, Acción Democrática and COPEI have formed the opposition coalition Alianza Democrática in the face of these elections. In the case of Acción Democrática and COPEI, these are two historic parties of the Venezuelan opposition that were intervened by the Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ), as well as Volundad Popular – the party of Guaidó and Leopoldo López – and Primero Justicia para install leaders who are less critical of the government.

Another opposition coalition, Alianza Venezuela Unida, has also been formed around the figure of Luis Parra, whom the Chavista deputies elected last January as president of the National Assembly to replace Guaidó, causing a bicephaly, since he it was once ratified by opposition parliamentarians.

This leaves the way open for a resounding victory for the Great Patriotic Pole (GPP) that brings together all the Chavista forces, starting with the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV). Aware of this, Maduro launched an ordeal on Tuesday in which a priori he knows he has everything to win.

“I leave my destiny in the hands of the people of Venezuela. If the opposition wins again in the National Assembly, I am leaving the Presidency, I will no longer stay here,” he said. The president said that as a “warrior” that he is, he is willing to accept the “challenge” posed by the opposition, which maintains that the elections are a plebiscite on the president.

The context in which these elections are being held, in the midst of the opposition boycott and a pandemic, suggests that turnout will be especially low, something that until now has always benefited Chavismo.

Venezuelans are fed up with the serious economic and humanitarian crisis that the country is going through, which has left 7 million people in need of help inside Venezuela and pushed more than 5.4 million to leave the country in recent years.

Measures to contain the pandemic “have had a serious impact on the economy, livelihoods and nutrition of the population,” the head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) told Europa Press. country, Samir Elhawary.

At the same time, some 136,000 Venezuelans have returned “due to the loss of their income, evictions and the growing signs of xenophobia in neighboring countries,” although there are those who continue to leave, although the closure of borders now forces them to resort to illegal steps and leaves them more exposed, he says.

Since 2019, the UN has intensified its presence in Venezuela and based its assistance on “the needs of the population and give priority to the most urgent cases without discrimination on grounds of nationality, race, sex, religious beliefs, social classes or political opinions.” Hence, Elhawary’s request for these elections is that “humanitarian assistance should not be politicized”, something that has happened in the past.

“Insufficient funding remains the biggest challenge” when it comes to providing assistance in Venezuela, acknowledges Elhawary, who appeals to donors to urgently support the request for funds for the country, only financed 20 percent.

Likewise, he adds, greater humanitarian access is necessary, “especially for national and international NGOs, so that they can play a greater role and assist the most vulnerable.” “This involves mitigating logistical impediments due to the lack of fuel and basic services and administrative limitations that affect the entry of humanitarian personnel and supplies into the country.”

Venezuela is also going through “an unprecedented crisis” of Human Rights, highlights the director of Amnesty International for the Americas, Erika Guevara Rosas, in statements to Europa Press. The NGO has continued to receive “complaints of extrajudicial executions, excessive use of force and attacks on those who criticized government policies”, who have also been subjected “to unfair trials and arbitrary arrests”.

It also continues “the practice of torture and other mistreatment and the forced disappearance of arbitrarily detained persons,” he says, ensuring that Amnesty is committed to continuing to contribute to “international scrutiny and justice mechanisms”, such as the UN mission that concluded that possible crimes against humanity or the International Criminal Court (ICC) have been committed, “do not abandon the victims in Venezuela and offer hope for accountability in the near future.”

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