In Caracas, President Maduro led a gathering of the United Socialist Party’s (PSUV) postulates on Friday in which he called on elected lawmakers to “help” in the fight against government officials’ corruption.
“Enough with indolence, enough with corruption, enough with red-dressed bandits who steal and betray the people. We have to persecute them, investigate them,” he said at the large-scale and televised event. “I will be the first collaborator with the [new] National Assembly. I am the first person to call for criticism as long as it is constructive and with solutions,” he added.
Despite Maduro’s invitation of constructive criticism, the leftist Popular Revolutionary Alternative (APR) denounced “premeditated censorship” against its candidates in a campaign rally outside the state television channel VTV on Thursday.
The APR is fielding an alternative list to the government bloc for the 277 seats up for grabs. The grouping is made up of a range of leftist organisations, including the Communist Party (PCV), on whose ticket the candidates have been registered. It also includes the major currents of the Homeland for All Party (PPT) and Tupamaro Party, both of which suffered leadership changes following Supreme Court interventions earlier this year, as well as LGBTIQ, communard and trade union groups.
Speaking at the demonstration, PCV candidate Yul Jabour explained that VTV, alongside the rest of the state-run media network, is “trying to hide the proposals coming out of popular power organisations representing the workers, the communes, the campesinos.” He highlighted that no APR candidates have been invited to participate in the regular televised debates between government and opposition candidates, arguing that this violated articles 57 and 58 of the Constitution which guarantee free access to information.
For his part, candidate Ulises Castro from the Autonomous Communard Network told the crowd that “the doors of the TV channels are opened to right-wing parties like Democratic Action and Copei, but closed to the democratic left.”
The APR has previously denounced sectors of the ruling PSUV for violating electoral law by also using public resources for campaigning, breaking COVID-19 biosecurity regulations and even legitimising police persecution against some of its candidates. The grouping has also called out electoral authorities for failing to fulfil new legal campaign financing obligations.
The numerous center-right and right-wing opposition parties participating in the election were also on the campaign trail across the country this week.
In Trujillo State, current National Assembly President Luis Parra led a rally for his Venezuela First party, stating that “we need an Assembly which discusses why we don’t have cooking gas, an Assembly which legislates for better wages and norms which work towards solutions.”
He also took aim at Venezuela’s US-backed hard-right factions which are boycotting the process, claiming that the “Twitter-based opposition” is “erratic” and that it is “better to vote than just complain.”
“Today, Venezuelans are sending a clear message: we prefer to vote than receive bullets,” he explained in reference to reiterated calls for foreign military intervention in the country to achieve regime change.
Likewise, the right-wing Solutions Party, which is fielding its own set of candidates, was also on the streets.
From Caracas, candidate Claudio Fermin also launched an attack at the hard-right for endorsing abstention, claiming that under their leadership the National Assembly “was kidnapped by elites, and when we look at the debates there were only insults and offenses. They lost their time in attacks.”
Over 14,000 candidates from 107 parties have signed up to contest the amplified 277 National Assembly seats in December. Of these, 95 have registered their own lists and do not back the government’s candidates. Campaigning officially closes at midnight on December 3.