The initial results of the Venezuelan opposition’s primary for president show that former lawmaker María Corina Machado is in the lead. She wasted no time in declaring herself the winner and the candidate to put an end to Nicolás Maduro’s tumultuous decade-long presidency.
The National Primary Commission, responsible for overseeing the election, reported that approximately 93% of the initial 601,110 ballots were cast for Machado, who was considered a leading candidate. The remaining votes were divided among the other nine candidates. There is no information on the total number of voters and more results are expected to be announced on Monday.
“Today, Machado addressed her supporters outside her campaign headquarters in Caracas, acknowledging the immense strength that has been unleashed. She stated that the events of today have demonstrated our resilience and determination in overcoming obstacles and injustices.”
The opposition in Venezuela had to collaborate in order to hold the country’s first presidential primary since 2012. Despite the extreme weather conditions, Venezuelans came out in large numbers to cast their votes at polling stations both within and outside of their country.
The exercise in democracy that was seen as monumental may not have a significant impact. Although the government has shown willingness to allow the opposition to select their candidate for the next presidential election, they have already disqualified Machado from running.
Hundreds of individuals assembled at polling stations in various areas of Caracas, well before the official start of voting. They remained in queues despite heavy rainfall that left them drenched. They came prepared with umbrellas, collapsible chairs, and coffee to make the anticipated wait more comfortable, and sought shelter by leaning against buildings or standing under tents.
Stephanie Aguilar, a 34-year-old resident of Caracas, shed tears as she patiently waited to cast her vote. She believes that the primary election is the only hope for her country, her children, and the countless Venezuelans who have been forced to leave due to the country’s economic and political upheaval.
Aguilar, a homemaker, expressed her desire for a better and more liberated country for her children, who have been raised under the current government. As she wiped away tears, she shared that her children often ask to go out to eat or do certain activities, but she has to deny them due to financial constraints. She finds it unfortunate that her children are growing up in a society where such conditions are prevalent.
The chief of the National Primary Commission, Jesús María Casal, attributed the significant delay in releasing election results to limitations on internet access.
The speaker stated that when they started tallying the outcomes, they found that their server, which acted as a means of communication, was obstructed. This hindered them from finishing the process on time.
NetBlocks, a London-based company that monitors the internet, posted data indicating that there is an interruption in internet access in #Venezuela, specifically affecting Caracas. The company also mentioned that a government-run internet provider has reported an issue with their backup power system.
According to David Smilde, a specialist in Venezuelan politics from Tulane University, the primary election was a notable accomplishment for various reasons. This includes compelling political figures and parties within the opposition to engage with and address the public.
According to him, this has sparked a lot of excitement and action among a population that has been doubtful of the opposition’s leadership recently.
The upcoming presidential election is likely to occur in the latter half of 2024. Maduro aims to prolong his presidency until 2030, surpassing the duration of his mentor, Hugo Chávez, who implemented his self-proclaimed socialist policies during his time in power.