Venezuelan opposition mobilizes against order to repeat elections they won

Caracas, Nov 30 (EFE).- The Venezuelan opposition on Tuesday mobilized against the order by the country’s Supreme Court (TSL) to repeat the regional elections in the state of Barinas on Jan. 9, despite the fact that the anti-government candidate, Freddy Superlano, obtained the most votes in the Nov. 21 gubernatorial election there.

Barinas is the home state of late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who died in 1913, and the country is still governed by his successor and protege, Nicolas Maduro.

The controversial decision was abruptly announced by the TSJ just minutes before midnight on Monday as a result of an “amparo” motion by opposition dissident Adolfo Ramon Superlano, no relation to Freddy Superlano.

The aspiring opposition candidate obtained 37.6 percent of the votes to just over 37.2 percent for his rival, according to projections released by the high court based on figures tabulated by the National Electoral Council (CNE).

The Electoral Chamber of the TSJ noted that Freddy Superlano competed in the race despite being disqualified, something that had not caused any problem in enabling him to register as a candidate with the automated CNE system.

However, Freddy Superlano noted on Tuesday that he was included on a list of people given amnesty by President Nicolas Maduro in August 2020, according to which he refuses to recognize the reasons whereby he was disqualified.

After learning of the decision the candidate said at a press conference that this is a sign that in Venezuela the separation of powers is “null and void” and he called a protest for this Saturday.

“Not only are there little technicalities having to do with the electoral arbiter, not only having to do with the presence that we have before the CNE, but that have to do with the null and void separation of state branches. It has to do with the fact there there’s no independence of the branches and that one branch controls another,” said Freddy Superlano at a press conference in Caracas.

To be able to overcome what he called an “injustice,” Superlano emphasized that he will turn to national and international bodies to ply his case, although he did not specify which ones.

In his judgment, what happened in Barinas is an “institutional coup” against the region, the institutions and what the vote represents as an expression of the popular will.

Meanwhile, former lawmaker Juan Guaido, who had said he was skeptical about participating in the Nov. 21 local and regional elections, the first time that the opposition had sent its voters to the polls en masse in five years, also came out in defense of the opposition candidate.

“Freddy Superlano defeated the Chavez forces in Barinas and the dictatorship,” he said, referring to Argenis Chavez, the government’s candidate and the brother of the late president.

The opposition leader, who remained in the background during the campaign and did not involve himself in calling for people to vote in the regional elections, said that the TSJ decision shows “once again the systematic violation of human rights in the country and the internal fight within” the governing United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV).

Argenis Chavez, the current governor of Barinas and candidate for reelection, withdrew his candidacy for the Jan. 9 vote and abandoned his post as regional chief, as a result of which the PSUV will have to select a new gubernatorial aspirant for the state, control of which is of great importance to the PSUV.

“I have decided to separate myself from the post, an irrevocable resignation and the post of general secretary of government will be assumed by commissioner Jesus Monsalve,” he said.

The now ex-governor expressed hopes that his party “will define its strategy for the new elections called by the TSJ on Jan. 9.”

He said that “preserving political power in Barinas is above the aspirations of any of the regional leaders.”

“The fundamental thing is to preserve political power,” he said.

The TSJ magistrates, who were responsible for making the decision to hold a new state election, were selected in a controversial express procedure that ended on Dec. 23, 2015, with the legislative session already over and just a few weeks before the opposition majority took possession of the National Assembly, as Venezuela’s parliament is known.

The Electoral Chamber of the TSJ is presided over by Indira Alfonzo, who is considered to be very close to Chavism and who was sanctioned by Canada in 2018 for supporting the presidential election that year in which Maduro was reelected, a vote that was rejected by a significant portion of the international community.

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