Venezuela’s electoral authority eliminates the direct election of indigenous deputies | International

The President of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, signs himself while exercising his vote in the last presidential elections, in Caracas on May 20, 2018.Ariana Cubillos / AP

The hasty call for the December 6 parliamentary elections in Venezuela continues. He National Electoral Council (CNE), unilaterally appointed by the Supreme Court, akin to Chavismo, began preparations to hold the elections against the clock in which the National Assembly will be renewed, the stone in the shoe of Nicolás Maduro for five years, when the opposition managed to keep the majority of the seats. Parliament is today the platform from where Juan Guaidó struggles to achieve a political transition and the departure of the Maduro government. In the midst of this process, the opening of the registration of new candidates in a quarantined country due to the increase in cases of at covid-19, the agency continues to make law reforms that jeopardize demands such as the direct election of indigenous people and the right to universal and secret voting guaranteed by the Venezuelan Constitution.

The National Electoral Council elaborated a new regulation for the election of indigenous deputies to the National Assembly. Before witnesses of indigenous candidate organizations and the electoral body, the vote will be taken by show of hands in community assemblies through a system of delegates, who will then elect the deputies in second degree voting, on behalf of the communities. This system of delegates by sectors was already used in the questioned election of the National Constituent Assembly, a body that operates without an opposition presence as the legislative arm of the Government. The rest of the country, on the other hand, will vote directly and through machines.

The modification of the norm violates the Electoral Processes Law that establishes that there should be no modifications in the previous six months. When the vote is just over four months away, the rules of the game are being changed. The new rector of the electoral authority, Indira Alfonzo, had already modified the composition of the Parliament, increasing the number of members from 167 to 277, in supposed agreement with the projections of the population increase, although recent studies such as the Survey of Living Conditions of Venezuelans They point out that it has been reduced. Faced with the increase in deputies, the seats assigned to indigenous representatives continue to be three, thus losing weight within the legislative forum, with a general award that gives more representation to the vote in lists than to the nominal vote. Indigenous people, according to the last census of 2011, are 2.8% of the population, some 800,000 Venezuelans belonging to 44 ethnic groups.

Alfonzo comes from occupying the presidency of the Electoral Chamber of the Supreme, from where he prevented in 2016 the swearing in of the three indigenous deputies of the Amazonas State for challenges to the process that has not yet been resolved by that court and that have served as an argument to Chavismo to indicate the supposed contempt of the Assembly, after it decided to incorporate them in 2017. The changes have already generated the rejection of some indigenous organizations. From the Guajira Rights Committee they indicated that the vote by show of hands exposes “the indigenous brothers and sisters to reveal their position openly and publicly in front of the supposed defenders of their collective rights, attached to the national Government, thereby curtailing the right to elect their representatives without any type of coercion or intimidation ”.

The road to parliamentarians has continued despite the questions that have been raised from the opposition and the international community, including the European Union and the so-called International Contact Group, formed to mediate the Venezuelan political crisis. The CNE was renewed by laminating the participation of the Assembly, to whom corresponds that faculty. Nor does it have a balanced conformation in its limbs.

In the last month, Chavismo has lined up against the main opposition parties, replacing its directives, through Supreme Court rulings, with leaders more related to the Government. This process has been endorsed by the National Dialogue Table, a pact that chavism arranged last year with a minority sector of the opposition, as well as participating in the negotiations sponsored with Norway with representatives of Juan Guaidó, conversations that are trying to resume.

The stage looks like a already seen of the anticipated presidential elections of May 2018, which unleashed Maduro’s crisis of legitimacy. As the process progresses, the Parliament that is elected in December – and that must be installed on January 5, 2021 – would have the same flaws of origin of the presidency of the leader of chavismo, chosen in a flawed process, which also left out most of the opposition, and not internationally recognized. The continuity beyond December of the current body of deputies under the command of Guaidó, still recognized as interim president by almost 60 countries, is a thesis that has been timidly proposed, but that in itself opens a new loop of conflict in the already convoluted institutionality of the country.

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