Setback for Maduro, low turnout in the referendum despite pressure

CARACAS. More than 20.6 million Venezuelans were called to vote in a referendum consultative, promoted by the Nicolás Maduro regime over the Essequibo to claim sovereignty over a large swath of Guyana, arguing that the oil and mineral-rich territory was stolen when the border was drawn more than a century ago. There was low attendance throughout the day, despite pressure from Chavismo.

The low vote is a setback for Maduro, who seeks to sell the image that Chavismo has a call after the opposition primaries that had a call despite the obstacles imposed by the regime. María Corina Machado was the winner with more than 90% of the votes, making her the undisputed leader of the opposition.

Despite this, the electoral body extended the process until 8 p.m. and the vice president of Communications and president of the Official Venezuelan Television Channel (VTV) Alfred Nazareth said on his social networks “let’s vote.”

Regarding the level of participation, some analysts have indicated that it may be around 25% or less, as pointed out by consultant Francisco Rodríguez.

In the consultation, Venezuelans are asked if they support the establishment of a new state in the disputed territory, known as Essequibo, in which Venezuela would grant citizenship to current and future residents, rejecting the jurisdiction of the highest court of the United Nations. to resolve the disagreement between the two South American countries.

It is not clear how this idea, formulated in one of the questions, of exercising jurisdiction over that territory is intended to be realized once it is declared part of Venezuela, currently made up of 23 states and a capital district.

The five-question referendum has been described as a diversionary tactic that includes a question rejecting the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to decide which country belongs to the territory around the Essequibo River, which generates controversy with Guyana that also claims that coveted territory.

The ICJ responded to a request from Guyana to stop the referendum, ordering Venezuela to refrain from taking any action that would alter the status quo, without expressly prohibiting the vote.

Despite government pressure for public sector workers to appear at the voting centers, until 6 p.m. the voting centers were sparsely populated. Radio Fe y Alegría made a specific search of a voting center in Zulia almost at 5 in the afternoon.

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Opposition leaders voted

Some opposition leaders participated in the consultation although not following the government line of voting “5 times Yes”. Among these Stalin González, leader of Un Nuevo Tiempo; Carlos Properi, former primary candidate for Democratic Action; Andrés Caleca, former primary candidate and former rector of the National Electoral Council (CNE); and the governors of Barinas and Zulia, Sergio Garrido and Manuel Rosales. Henrique Capriles, former governor of the state of Miranda, also did so.

Dissident Chavismo describes it as a failure

Andrés Izarra and Rafael Ramírez, former ministers of Chavismo and two voices of dissident Chavismo, expressed that the consultative referendum on Essequibo was a failure for Chavismo and affirmed that the ruling coalition put an end to Chavismo’s electoral machinery.

The former Minister of Communication and Information, Andrés Izarra, stated through his account on X (formerly Twitter) that “Maduro seems to be finishing burying his possibility of being a candidate next year.”

Izarra highlighted that the Maduro regime overestimated the participation of Venezuelans in the referendum and announced that the surveys gave a participation ceiling of 20%. “The PSUV machinery does not exist. They even finished with that,” Izarra lashed out.

“It looks like the first of January”

While there were no longer lines of voters at the voting centers, the city streets also looked empty. “It seems like the first of January,” commented a motorist in Petare.

In this, one of the most populous parishes in Venezuela, people were seen on the street, but not in the voting centers.

A similar situation was seen at the other end of the city, in Catia, where the population seemed more intent on enjoying Sunday and not expressing their electoral will, is reported in a chronicle by Estudio Cocuyo.