The New Independents

 The regional and local elections in Venezuela this Sunday will more than likely be more of the same from Chavismo. There is one thing that has already been a departure from the past and that is a strategy by Chavista candidates in the governor’s races in states that have previously gone to the opposition. That is the rise of what we’re calling “The New Independents.” We discussed earlier this week at least one other candidate from PSUV (the Chavista’s party) that has broken away from the norm and downplayed connections to Chavismo. It shouldn’t really be a surprise given Maduro’s 15% approval rating but Chavismo has had it’s issues for some time and hasn’t changed tactics… until now.

 Tachira has been an opposition state for many years. PSUV candidate, Freddy Bernal has been “The Protector” since the Chavistas lost the last governor’s race and Maduro came up with the new and totally unconstitutional position “Protector of the People” A quick refresher, after four opposition candidates won their governor’s races in the last election in traditionally strong opposition states and Maduro felt he had seen enough of this from those insolent non-believers in “The Revolution.” Without any legislative process or referendum he simply created the position of “Protector” in each of the four states. (there are no “Protectors” anywhere else) I guess “the people” only need “protecting” from the opposition.Enter Freddy Bernal.

 Freddy calls his campaign “an independent electoral platform” He has been a historical leader of “The Bolivarian Revolution” but is another Chavista distancing himself from Chavismo, or is it from Madurismo? There is no color red (the color of Chavismo) to be seen anywhere. There are no ruling party symbols visible and his campaign never mentions his own party,PSUV. He is even getting support from previously opposition leaning organizations. In the city of San Cristobal,a long time opposition stronghold and center of many demonstrations in Tachira State, you have one Chavista candidate for mayor and four opposition candidates so it’s likely the Chavistas will prevail in the mayor’s race of the state’s centerpiece. That leaves the the governor’s race as an interesting choice. On one hand you have the current governor, Laidy Gomez, running for reelection even though she was unable to accomplish much due to being hamstrung by all the power of her office being diverted to the office of “The Protector”, her opponent (and our ‘other hand’) Freddy Bernal. It should be interesting.

 Now, to other news…also election related.

 The CNE (electoral council) didn’t approve a ballot change for the Miranda governor’s race so all votes for the MUD (an opposition party) candidate will be null. There will be no replacement candidate. Is this the “free and fair election” we have been promised by Maduro and the Chavistas?

 The Venezuela Electoral Observatory reports that the CNE is not informing the public on how to elect individual candidates, preferring to prioritize party line voting.

 Oh, and the electoral observers have arrived from Tunisia,Benin, and Indonesia joining those from Russia, the Carter Center, The EU, the UN, and a partridge in a pear tree. Not that there will be much to observe as we have already said. The electoral fraud has already happened.

 However, still beating the “free and fair” elections drum, we have Telesur (government media) reporting that Maduro is decrying  US meddling in Venezuela’s internal affairs ie; the November 21st elections. He wasn’t happy with comments coming out of the State Department. He played the free and sovereign elections card again along with the usual “interventionist” rhetoric. I’m still waiting for the “imperialist” and “colonialist” lines.

 Then we have AS/COA telling us there are many issues with the elections citing major conditions (too many to list) but we’ll touch on a few. Many potential candidates remain disqualified (even if their party was reinstated). This includes both the opposition and Chavistas that were closer to Chavez than they are to Maduro. We also have the TSJ (supreme court) appointing the heads of those reinstated parties that were previously banned but now graciously allowed to participate albeit with leaders acceptable to Chavismo. How’s that for autonomy?  There remains no free press and the regime candidates are using public funds for television campaign ads while the opposition gets nothing. Sounds “free and fair” to me.

 In other news we have the EU announcing it is extending the sanctions on 55 individuals with the Maduro regime including Delcy Rodriguez, Diosdado Cabello, and 7 TSJ justices, some tied to Human Rights violations…like torture, that haven’t been prosecuted. Cue the ICC (International Criminal Court). Note : not under sanction by the EU is Nicolas Maduro.

 Since we love talking money here at Tales From Teodoro how about this…The BCV (Venezuela Central Bank) due to exchange rate control policies has caused Venezuela to lose $776 million in international reserves.Cash reserves are down 72% since 2013, the year Maduro took power.At the same time gold reserves have gone from over $32 billion to under $5 billion. Things are getting a little thin.

 Oh, and Thomson Reuters tells us that an ICSID tribunal found it didn’t have jurisdiction to hear Kimberly Clark’s claims against Venezuela. Why? Venezuela didn’t consent.

 Well, that’s going to do it for this week. Advisory : We are taking a bit of an hiatus next week so there will be no new posts until the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. I’m taking my wife and daughter East of I95 for a traditional family gathering to celebrate their first Thanksgiving in the US. We’ll be back with the results from the Venezuela elections and more fun and games from the land of “21st Century Bolivarian Socialism” but until then, HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

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