Mexico City, Mexico, September 30, 2021 (venezuelanalysis.com) – The European Union (EU) has accepted an invitation from Venezuela’s National Electoral Council (CNE) to observe regional elections due to be held in November, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell confirmed Wednesday.
"An unprecedented electoral process will take place, with the concurrence of the majority of political forces for the first time in recent years, to elect more than 3,000 regional and municipal representatives in Venezuela," said Borrell in a statement.
The decision by the EU to send an observation mission comes amid ongoing negotiations between the government of Nicolás Maduro and the US-backed opposition in Mexico. Hardline opposition elements have agreed to participate in the upcoming November 21 regional and local contests after previously abstaining and calling for a boycott of the electoral process.
The EU mission is expected to add further legitimacy to the upcoming “mega” elections after frequent, unfounded accusations of fraud by Washington and Brussels. The European bloc previously observed elections in the South American country in 2005 and 2006 and sent an “exploratory mission” to Venezuela in July to assess the viability of an new observation mission.
Previous elections that did not count on a EU mission were nonetheless declared free and fair by a number of international actors, including the Latin American Council of Electoral Experts (CEELA), which has once again announced that it will send a delegation to Venezuela in November.
The European delegation will be led by Isabel Santos, Member of the European Parliament, who will act as Chief Observer.
“After years of tensions and polarisation, the forthcoming elections are a possible important step towards finding a peaceful and democratic solution to the crisis in Venezuela,” Santos explained in a statement.
The EU mission will consist of 11 election experts who are expected to arrive in Caracas in October and later be joined by 62 Long-Term Observers and further supported by 34 Short-Term Observers as well as 20 locally-recruited Short-Term Observers on election day.
European Union member-states have conducted an inconsistent policy toward the government of Nicolás Maduro, initially backing the US-led strategy of recognizing opposition figure Juan Guaidó as “interim president.” Brussels quietly withdrew support for the Washington-backed politician after it became apparent that he would not exercise any real control over the Venezuelan state apparatus and the expiration of the opposition-led National Assembly in January 2021.
The EU’s initial support for Guaidó has nonetheless created major headaches for Caracas, most recently with the payment to the Pan-American Health Organization for over 13 million vaccines being blocked by Portuguese bank Novo Banco.
European Parliament Deputy Mick Wallace accused Novo Banco of engaging in “state-aided expropriation” of Venezuela assets.
The electoral mission by the EU would pave the way for a recognition of Venezuela’s democratic process and could eventually lead to the total normalization of relations after years of tension and the expulsion of diplomats by both parties.
Brussels’ rapprochement is also expected to put pressure on the United States to respect the outcome of the vote after years of increasingly desperate efforts to push for regime change in Venezuela through unilateral coercive measures and support for radical elements within the opposition. The CNE has guaranteed impartiality, freedom of speech and movement for the mission.
While hardline opposition sectors had put EU observation as a condition to return to electoral processes, its participation in November’s vote has been marred by tension and infighting.
In the pivotal Miranda state, David Uzcátegui from Neighborhood Force (FV) and Carlos Ocariz from Justice First (PJ) traded accusations of foul play as they vied to run for governor on the opposition’s ticket. As a result, both ended up registering, while FV and PJ fielded different candidates for most municipalities in the state. Western-backed factions will also risk splitting the anti-government vote with the more moderate “Democratic Alliance.”
Edited by Ricardo Vaz from Mérida