Venezuela and Public Disdain for Mayoral Elections

By Cantaura Levy*

The governing socialist party’s point man is Diosdado Cabello. Photo: gov.ve

HAVANA TIMES — On December 10th, mayoral elections will be held in Venezuela’s 335 municipalities. It’s Nicolas Maduro’s priority right now in the middle of a never-ending crisis that has been beating our vast and beautiful country relentlessly.

According to the president’s “spot-on political measures”, these elections promise to be the solution to all of the serious problems that we are suffering as a nation. Elections held at the expense of the great damage that we have suffered to our ethics and morale, as a result of this economic disaster that we experience daily.

It’s important to highlight that in our country, we come from having experienced a transparent election system with democratic participation, during the former and late president Hugo Chavez’s government.

Today, this has become a platform that serves the established power and its directives that come from the National Constituent Assembly (ANC). However, in spite of this, a group of ordinary people who are determined but still believe in these decaying institutions, are nominating several of their candidates who have been key figures in the popular struggle. Just a few days before the mayoral elections, the situation has become contradictory, especially because of the methods or the shape the rules of the game being put forward are taking, and here lies the heart of the problem.

Angel Prado

A well-known case is that of Constituent Assembly delegate Angel Prado, who in spite of handing over all of the signatures that the electoral body requires, doesn’t have the ANC’s approval to run for mayor in these elections. The more than 7,000 signatures from his community and support he received from different social movements weren’t enough for the ANC’s president. It’s then striking that another 40 Constituent Assembly delegates did receive an approval to run as candidates at different cities across the country.

It’s not hard to imagine the reasons why the rural communal leader Angel Prado’s nomination wasn’t approved in his Municipality of Simon Planas in Lara State, which is situated in the country’s central-western area. In this case, the governing United Socialist Party (PSUV) and the ANC’s annointed and ruling directives didn’t give this leader permission to run because he didn’t meet their profile of “hard-line party candidate”.

The fact that he was nominated by his people, the people who live in the state where they have a communal life, struggling with farmers in an organized way so as to create opportunities in the processed food industry to help them get out of the crisis we experience today, wasn’t enough. Is the latter the real reason that his nomination was dismissed by the party of which he is a member? Are they dismissing him in the same way that they dismiss the Venezuelan people? What’s clear here is that the approval of 40 Constituent Assembly delegates to run for mayor at different mayoral offices across the country had to have come from the vertical catacombs of the party’s top down structure.

Rural leader Angel Prado trusted in Maduro to continue Chavez’s legacy, he committed the “political” sin of relying upon his people to legitimize his struggle and his nomination, but he was excluded, blocked, dismissed in his legitimate right to run for mayor. This is just another example of how this government takes off its mask of “popular democracy” with empty socialist discourse.  

This new bourgeoisie is only interested in legitimizing itself in power so it can have control of and continue to hand out our natural and mineral weath to multinational corporations. And it is protected by a dictatorial party and a National Assembly that goes by the name of “Constituent”, which is suffused with limitations that prove just how far-removed it is from the people’s real will and needs, especially during this time of crushing and unjust crisis that we are living as a population.

Eduardo Saman

This isn’t the party dictatorship’s only display; we also have the example of Eduardo Saman, a candidate for Mayor in the Caracas municipality of Libertador.  Saman is a PSUV member too, he was the director of the now-extinct Institute for the Defense of People in the Access to Goods and Services during Hugo Chavez’s presidency.

Saman decided to take one step forward and be a different revolutionary option; he had to win support from other independent parties as he had already been rejected by his own party (PSUV). Up until now, they have made him invisible on the ballot, they have blocked him from having access to state media, even commercials, and he has been victim to political harrassment, threats and his freedom of expression has been violated. Erika Faria is the PSUV’s candidate for this mayoral office in Caracas and she has pretty much been declared mayor even before the election.

In the scope of party and economic interests, the panorama is even more ironclad. Claims of a people’s democracy is just that, a few phrases to legitimize a socialist project which is really a rotting neoliberal system at heart where the people are just fillers for their “social force” rallies. 

The system is rooted in paternalist politics that are directed at the working class, making them dependent on social programs which aren’t enough to bring down the hyperinflation crisis that they have (created by those in power) and this in turn stifles us with insecurity, poor services, never-ending lines to get food, corruption, abuses of power etc. 

All of this subdues the population, who live on tenterhooks. Weakened, manipulated and pacified, the Venezuelan people no longer have the chance to rise up and to create resistance movements and efforts of collective participation. This crisis only favors the political/business class and the military. Amidst public debates and internal conflicts, they are like a pack of hounds behind a huge banquet which continues to be Venezuela’s subsoils’ magnificent and abundant wealth.

*Special from Lara, Venezuela

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