In his Miami Herald column today Andres Oppenheimer sets out eight reasons why the Venezuelan election, due to take place within the next several weeks after the death of Hugo Chavez, is will be all but impossible for the opposition to win. Some are due to natural occurrences while several are products of manipulation by Chavez’ hand picked successor, Nicolás Maduro,of the election process. How does a modern, oil-rich country get away with this?
First, acting President Nicolás Maduro, the government’s candidate, has manipulated the electoral agenda by extending Chávez’s mourning for several weeks.
Second, Maduro has enjoyed much more time than Capriles to organize his electoral machine because he misled Venezuelans into believing that Chávez’s health was improving, and that there would be no need for an election.
Third, Maduro will have a more than 10-1 advantage in television propaganda time. The opposition candidate’s campaign will have the right to use only four minutes of paid advertising time per day, per television channel.
Fourth, the government has so far not accepted Capriles’ request for a nationally televised debate.
Fifth, the government has not allowed time for a thorough review of voter registration lists.
Sixth, government intimidation of anti-Chávez voters is rampant. Defense Minister Diego Molero, whose armed forces will be in charge of protecting voting places on Election Day, said in a public ceremony on March 7 that Venezuela’s National Bolivarian Armed Forces are “anti-imperialist, socialist and Chavistas.”
Seventh, Maduro’s government will not allow neutral international election observers, such as electoral missions from the European Union or the Organization of American States.
Eighth, Venezuela’s election oversight authorities are a joke, as is its entire justice system.