The Nicolás Maduro regime insists on holding parliamentary elections on December 6, despite pressure from the international community to postpone them, in addition to persistent uncertainty about the logistic viability of conducting the voting.
According to the former Venezuelan ambassador to the United Nations, Milos Alcalay, Maduro’s purpose is “to destroy the legitimate National Assembly [AN]” and remove Juan Guaidó from the presidency of that institution.
Guaidó maintains his position not to participate in the parliamentary elections, which he describes as fraudulent due to the illegitimate appointment of National Electoral Council (CNE, in Spanish) officials — something that fell under the AN — and the unconstitutional 66 percent increase in parliamentary seats, among other electoral irregularities. “To participate in an electoral fraud is to legitimize the dictatorship. For a free and democratic process to exist, it requires […] conditions that are not in place today in Venezuela,” Guaidó told the nongovernmental organization Transparencia Venezuela.
Sanctions and negotiations
On September 4, the U.S. Department of the Treasury sanctioned officials of the Maduro regime for undermining the democratic order in Venezuela and interfering in the electoral process in an attempt to prevent free and fair parliamentary elections from taking place in December.
“An unfair and unfree parliamentary election will only deepen Venezuela’s crisis. All those who seek to deprive Venezuelans of a democratic future should consider themselves on notice — the U.S. will stand firm against authoritarianism,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Twitter.
The sanctioned individuals include Reinaldo Enrique Muñoz Pedroza, the country’s attorney general; as well as Indira Maira Alfonzo Izaguirre and José Luis Gutiérrez Parra, both CNE officials.
Subsequently, the Department of the Treasury sanctioned five political leaders on September 20 for taking part in a scheme to rig the December parliamentary elections by “placing control of Venezuela’s opposition parties in the hands of politicians affiliated with Nicolás Maduro’s regime, undermining any credible opposition challenge to that regime,” the institution said in a statement.
For its part, the European Union (EU) sent a diplomatic mission to Caracas in late September in an attempt to postpone the elections. However, it did not achieve its goal.
The Maduro regime’s decision “only serves to worsen the political situation in Venezuela,” Josep Borrell, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, said before the European Parliament.
“The EU cannot even consider sending an election observer mission,” he said.
For Roberto Abdul, a representative of the civil organization Súmate, which monitors Venezuelan elections, the risks of conducting an electoral campaign and voting amid the COVID-19 pandemic are enormous. In addition, due to the quarantine, the electoral schedule was delayed.
One of the most sensitive issues relates to voting machines. After a fire in the CNE warehouses in March, at least two-thirds of the machines were rendered unusable. The regime announced that the import of 15,000 machines, with an unknown voting system, is underway.
“There is no certainty at all. The [CNE] officials themselves have shown concerns about the process going forward,” Abdul said.