Venezuela: ‘Mega-election’ Campaign Wraps Up with Large Rallies Across the Country

Venezuela is all set for Sunday’s regional and local contests, with electoral material distributed to voting centers and international guests on the ground.

By Andreína Chávez Alava

Guayaquil, Ecuador, November 18, 2021 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan candidates closed their electoral campaigns with a range of demonstrations ahead of the November 21 “mega-elections.”

In the span of three weeks, over 70,000 candidates from 111 political parties held rallies, marches, cultural and sports activities. Social media also played an important role in the campaign, with contestants showing photos and videos of activities and community visits to the 21.2 million eligible voters.

Candidates across the political spectrum received ample airtime on public and private media to promote their electoral proposals, centered on recovering the country’s public services, significantly strained after a years-long economic crisis and under crushing US sanctions.

Sunday's ballot, the twenty-seventh since 1998, will see the election of 3,082 public officers, including 23 state governors, 335 mayors, 253 regional legislators and 2,471 local councilors.

The ruling Socialist Party (PSUV)+ bloc set in motion its electoral machinery in all 23 states. For the final campaign event, the incumbent Miranda state governor Héctor Rodríguez gathered hundreds of supporters in the populous Petare barrio in eastern Caracas.

“Together we have faced storms, and now that good times are coming, we are going to consolidate a victory for life, peace, the future and well-being of our families,” the former youth leader wrote on Twitter.

PSUV+ candidate for mayor of Caracas' Libertador municipality Carmen Meléndez likewise held a final march in the city’s central avenues, reiterating her promises to rescue public spaces and reactivate tourism. “We are going to guarantee peace in Caracas and create harmony between social and economic sectors,” said the former minister to the crowd.

The government-led bloc is facing challenges in some key races from right-wing forces, with the US-backed Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) returning to the ballot after four years of election boycotts. On Tuesday, former Zulia state governor and now candidate, Manuel Rosales, closed his campaign with a massive event, where he proclaimed an imminent victory.

"On Monday [after the results], we will announce the first steps of our plan. Emergency measures and good news. We are going to stop the destruction and open a new phase for Zulia," Rosales told his sympathizers in Maracaibo.

For his part, Justice First politician Tomás Guanipa, running for Caracas mayor on the MUD ticket, finished off his campaign on Wednesday with visits to El Guataro neighborhood and other parts of the capital. His electoral message centered around “change” and “hope.”

Another bloc running is the Democratic Alliance, a coalition of smaller opposition parties. On Wednesday, former presidential candidate Henri Falcón held a final rally where he called followers to “defend the vote” as he runs for the Lara governorship.

The moderate opposition bloc also has its hopes on Carabobo governor candidate Javier Bertucci. The fellow 2018 presidential candidate wrapped up the campaign with a 5 kilometers walk followed by a concentration in Valencia. “Change is in your hands,” he told supporters.

Finally, the leftwing Popular Revolutionary Alternative (APR), with a range of candidates running on the Communist Party (PCV) ticket likewise took to the streets on Thursday. Franklin Rodríguez and Jesús Alarcón, running for Puerto Cabello (Carabobo) and Miranda (Mérida) mayorships, respectively, held sizable rallies.

APR also staged protests to denounce that other six of its candidates were barred from the contests, allegedly with no explanation. “These cases join the eight previous ones making PCV the political organization with more blocked candidates,” a statement read.

For his part, President Nicolás Maduro stated that the electoral campaign has strengthened popular power and condemned the US Deputy Secretary of State Kevin O’Reilly’s remarks about the upcoming elections. “The interference in our internal affairs is regrettable and shameful. The US wishes it had an electoral system like ours,” he said on Tuesday.

The National Electoral Council (CNE) is likewise wrapping up the final details for Sunday’s “mega-elections,” with 90 percent of electoral material already distributed to voting centers. However, a sabotage attempt was reported on November 13.

"We neutralized a terrorist group trying to sabotage one of CNE's facilities in Mariche (Miranda state)," Minister of Interior and Justice, Remigio Ceballos, said in a televised address. Four people allegedly involved were arrested.

More than 300 international guests will accompany Sunday’s vote, including missions from the United Nations, the Carter Center and the European Union (EU).

Edited by Ricardo Vaz from Mérida.

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