Merida, April 14th 2013 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – The voting process in Venezuela today has been peaceful, with a large turnout, and so far only minor incidents. As opposition candidate Henrique Capriles voted, he called publically for an “avalanche” of his supporters at the booths at 2pm, while government candidate Nicolas Maduro affirmed he would accept the election results.
Government officials reported that 8 million people had voted by 11am, 11 million people had voted by 2pm, and 13.5 million people by 4pm. Jorge Rodriguez, head of the campaign for Nicolas Maduro, said that the voting process was fast, and for that reason queues were largely short at booths around the country.
Capriles voted at 1.30pm, then gave a speech and responded to questions from the press. This speech was broadcast by Globovision and reported online. He used the opportunity to criticise the CNE and the government, and to encourage his supporters to vote.
He asked supporters to be “reporters that denounce the irregularities” in the voting process, and in doing so, rather than making legal denunciations, he asked supporters to post photos to social networks and send them to his campaign team. “Can we defeat the abuse?” he asked.
“We will respect the will of the people… but careful with the ballot boxes…that they want to try to interfere with,” he said.
He called for an “avalanche” in voting at around 2-3pm, especially requesting youth and student supporters to vote for him then. However, while it was observed in many areas that more people came out to vote at around 2.30 pm, the numbers were not significant. In Merida’s largest voting booth for example, in a predominantly opposition area, Venezuelanalysis.com counted 60 youths in an hour. A total of 5,000 people are registered to vote in that booth.
Capriles’ campaign team also disagreed with the voting participation rates reported by the government. His campaign coordinator Ramon Aveledo said that only 4.5 million had voted by 11am, quoting the CNE as his source.
Capriles said that Rodriguez had announced the so called exaggerated turn-out numbers “in order to disrupt the process, because we all know what’s happening”.
Later today, just before 6pm, Capriles wrote on his Twitter account that the government was announcing “results that don’t exist, be aware! that’s their speciality”.
At the same time, Nicolas Maduro’s Twitter account, as well as the PSUV’s one, were hacked. The hacking, rude and making fun of the candidate, has been done by someone registered as “Lulzsecperu”. Also, there has been some opposition led violence in Sucre, Miranda state.
Candidate for the government, Nicolas Maduro voted this afternoon in Catia, Caracas, and also promised to accept the results, “even if I lose by one vote, but if I win by one vote I will be the president of the republic”.
Maduro said the electoral process has been “impeccable” but also pervaded by “sabotage to the electrical system, which is part of a strategy, sabotage to the food distribution system, the dirty war against myself, my family, and the country”.
He also reported that during the electoral campaign, of the information provided by the media, “80% was for the other candidate [Capriles], 20% for me, and half of that was against me, and that’s just on television… on the radio and in the press it was worse”.
However he said, “We don’t need to be on the covers of newspapers, we’re in the …hearts of the people”, and he called on everyone to carry out their right to vote.
El Universal reported that Diego Scharifker, national youth secretary of the opposition New Time party, was detained this morning. The national guard reported that he had been participating in electoral campaigning, something that is illegal in Venezuela on voting day. He responded however that he was only encouraging people to vote. According to El Nacional Scharifker was released four hours later and was able to vote.
El Universal also reported five denunciations so far of government supporters participating in illegal campaigning, such as shouting political slogans, sticking up speeches by Hugo Chavez, and playing the national anthem sung by Chavez.
Head of strategic operations of the National Bolivarian Armed Forces, Wilmer Barrientos, reported this afternoon that 18 people so far are being investigated for electoral related crimes. These include carrying arms, impeding the electoral process, and distributing political propaganda. He said one person was detained for illegally wearing army uniform, including a bullet-proof vest, and carrying guns and ammunition.
Today’s election will be the 18th one in the 14 years since Hugo Chavez was elected in 1998.