Who’s Going to be the Next Venezuelan President?

This Sunday the 20th, there will be elections in Venezuela and the citizen will choose who is going to be the next Venezuelan President. Many would think that this is the step we have been looking forward to for so long, but it is far from the truth. This electoral process was proposed by the Constituent National Assembly which is not recognized internationally as an institution of power, and which is the ultimate weapon of control developed by the government in 2017 and supported by (according to the government) 8 million Venezuelans. Let’s remember that just after the results were given, the company in charge of the election electronic system “Smartmatic” flew out of the country and declared the numbers had been altered. But, as it is common under dictatorships, nothing happened.

Those who oppose the government have made a clear call not to participate in these elections. The argument behind this is that there are no true “elections” to be made since the whole process is unconstitutional and the candidates are just tokens of the still-in-power Chavismo. Anyways, here you have the “options” for the next Venezuelan President:

The Contenders for the Next Venezuelan President

1. Henri Falcon: 56 years old, military and lawyer. He has won twice the position of Mayor in the city of Barquisimeto and he also won twice the position of Governor of Lara State. During the first two, he was on Chavez side, during the second two positions he was against Chavez. He participated in the writing of Chavez’s constitution in 1999 and now decides not to follow the abstentionist trend of the opposition. In 2013, he worked next to Henrique Capriles in the presidential elections as the Campaign leader to help him get some votes from the Chavista people that were deeply sad after their “commander’s” death. We find ourselves in front of a true chameleon in the political game. Falcon proposes:

– A country of unity and a short presidential administration.
– Freeing political prisoners.
– Using the Dollar as an indicator to guide the economy.
– Rebuilding the economy going back to the primary sector.
– New programs of social care.

He says everyone should vote on Sunday because we have to defeat the government at its own game.

2. Javier Bertucci: 49 years old, a former Protestant pastor, Bertucci was born in Portuguesa State and was raised by his grandparents, it was a humble beginning. In 2007 he creates “El Evangelio cambia” (Gospel Changes) a protestant movement carried out mostly by young people who read the bible and present shows in the streets with religious content. In 2010 he was accused of smuggling diesel to the Dominican Republic in a ship that belonged to his company “Tecnopetrol”. After six months of papers he received a judicial order that sets him on probation until a verdict is reached, this decision is still in process.

According to the database, The Open Database Of The Corporate World, Bertucci is listed as owner or associate of Health Supply Inc.; Todo Salud inc.; Sky Suministros inc. all of them in Panama. He was also connected to Panama Papers due to a series of emails that were sent to Mossack Fonseca Firm about being the future president of Stockwin Enterprises Inc. According to the firm these transactions were not done and therefore there were no legal consequences directly relating Bertucci in the business. For this presidential campaign Bertucci proposes:

– Eliminate currency exchange control.
– Rebuilding the education system.
– Allowing the entrance to the country of big Hotels chains to promote tourism.
– Allow the entrance of humanitarian help to the country.
– Modernizing the health sector.

He has talked against gay marriage and legalizing abortion only for those cases of medical risks for the mother.

3. Nicolas Maduro: the piece that cannot be missed. Despite being in the worst moment of popularity, with 17% in favor, Nicolas Maduro wants to have another round as the President of the country. He is sure he is going to win with over 10 million votes. Some people say he knows this because the trap is all set and the government already has the results. Maduro proposes:

– Strengthen free compulsory education with 100% coverage of citizens.
– Expand the health sector: primary, family and community health systems.
– Continue giving houses until they reach 5 Million.
– Consolidate the “Motherland Identification Card” system.
– Consolidate other economic systems and plans already introduced (food boxes, bonuses, etc).

He has said that the people have to give him a chance to reestablish the economy of the country. I suppose 18 years of XXI century socialism hasn’t been enough.

The Others

There are two more men running to be the next Venezuelan President this time: Luis Ratti, who wants to eliminate currency exchange control and promote foreign investment. And, Reinaldo Quijada, who wants to create a new Money Power (just like judicial, legislative, etc), eliminate exchange control, eliminate price control and increase oil production. These two candidates are independent and that is basically the reason why almost nobody knows them.

Many Venezuelans don’t know if they should vote or if they should stay at home. The debate begins with the fact that these elections were called by an institution that is not recognized, the CNA. So, if you go and vote you are basically saying you believe they are constitutional and valid. On the other hand, some Venezuelans say we should go and vote anyway, that if the electors are enough it is more difficult to cheat and they are going to be forced to accept the results.

So, get your popcorn, turn on the TV and, let’s wait for Sunday’s show.

About Isabel Matos

Isabel is a Venezuelan translator that struggles to find a voice and to prosper in today’s political turmoil and tension. She is also an undergraduate English teacher and is currently pursuing a Master’s in English as a Foreign Language. Translator, teacher and always student, she is interested in how language shapes reality and how women and men negotiate power through discourse.

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