HAVANA TIMES – Venezuelans will vote or abstain Sunday in a controversial election in which President Nicolas Maduro seeks re-election against three rivals of little weight, after the leading opposition candidates were disqualified. The opposition coalition calls on citizens to boycott the vote claiming it is fraudulent, reports dpa news.
A total of 20.5 million voters are eligible to cast their ballots at 33,000 polling stations.
Henri Falcon, a former Chavez supporter, accepted the challenge of participating without the support of the opposition alliance Mesa de Unidad Democratica (MUD), which called for the boycott, so there are doubts about the level of participation that this election will have.
The MUD argued that several of its candidates were disqualified, as was the case of Henrique Capriles who barely lost to Maduro in 2013, and that several political parties were outlawed. For that reason, the opposition leadership called to abstain, telling people to go to the churches instead of polls.
In addition to the office of president, voters will also elect members of 23 State legislative assemblies, with more than 2,000 seats in dispute.
The other candidates for president, among which are the evangelical pastor Javier Bertucci and the engineer Reinaldo Quijada, had 25 days to deploy their proposals in the electoral campaign, but they received little attention from the voters, more concerned about surviving the main economic problem: hyperinflation.
In the campaign, Maduro argued that the economic crisis is caused by the financial sanctions of the United States, an economic war imposed by hoarding businessmen and the opposition’s effort to overthrow him. He promised to fix the country’s economy if he gets his re-election with at least 10 million votes.
Faced with the situation, Falcon proposed the dollarization of the economy (as in Ecuador and Panama) as a formula to curb hyperinflation, which in the last 12 months climbed to almost 13,000 percent. For several months now there is a severe shortage of cash in circulation and on the street the dollar has come to be worth more than 750,000 bolivars.
In short, the elections take place in a chaotic social scenario due to the rising prices of consumer goods, as well as the shortages of food and medicines. Likewise, thousands of Venezuelans are fleeing the country daily looking for better opportunities in any country that will accept them.
The elections have been questioned by several countries, which advanced that they will not recognized their results, after Maduro refused to suspend the vote. These are the 14 countries of the so-called Lima Group (Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Chile, Peru, Paraguay, Panama, Honduras, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Canada, Guyana and Saint Lucia), plus the United States and the 28 nations of the European Union.
Maduro has the governments of Cuba, Nicaragua and Bolivia as his closest allies in the continent plus Vladimir Putin in Russia.