(CNE) – Since 2007, the National Electoral Council in Venezuela has been the target of attacks and violent acts that, although have not impeded the success of the election events, have affected the country’s democratic normal life.
These attacks, sometimes organized and executed by political leaders and parties, are expressed through direct aggressions against the facilities, authorities and personnel of CNE, including their relatives.
Direct attacks against the electoral entity is an unprecedented fact in the country’s political life and lacks any international reference.
Through these actions, minority groups of political activists have put a regrettable and shameful pressure on the electoral entity, sometimes reaching high levels of violence that would constitute real crimes. Like in many countries in the world, in Venezuela any violent act disturbs or attempts to disturb the normal development of elections is considered a crime.
Violence against CNE has different purposes and modalities, which significantly affect the civic nature of an election event. Their final goal is to undermine the credibility of the electoral institution in order to discredit their acts and stimulate political confrontation.
In particular, the reiterated harassment and physical aggression acts against officials of the Electoral Branch of Power are worrying. Let’s see some of these facts:
Upon completion of the presidential election in 2013, the then opposition candidate, Henrique Capriles, did not recognize the results and called for violence in the street and against CNE, which resulted in the deaths of 11 people.
Seven CNE offices throughout the country were attacked and their workers were harassed in the states Anzoátegui, Merida, Monagas, Sucre, Trujillo, Zulia and Yaracuy.
Directors of the electoral entity were harassed at their homes, including the President of CNE, Tibisay Lucena, whose home was harassed, including its residents who were practically kidnapped by violent groups the night of April 15.
During a demonstration in support of CNE, near its headquarters in Zulia state on April 16, a young man was killed by sharpshooters.
During the violent protests between February and June, in the context of the so-called “Operacion La Salida” (The Way-out Operation), staged by the opposition, three CNE offices in the states of Lara, Táchira and Anzoátegui were attacked.
The CNE seat in Zulia state was set on fire and completely destroyed.
The homes of top officials of the Nacional Electoral Council were also submitted to harassment and aggression.
Streets were closed and access to some neighborhood in some municipalities throughout the country was blocked, affecting also access to seats of CNE and preventing personnel from traveling from their homes to their worksites.
In 2015, the main opposition leaders staged a campaign discrediting CNE and its authorities. Since the beginning of the year, four negative matrices against the electoral authority were created in the media: The National Electoral Council allows for fraud: it is neither independent nor impartial, and discourages opposition voters. After the congressional elections in 2015, in which the opposition won the majority of posts, no opposition representative or leader rectified for the attacks.
In the context of the activities regarding the request by the opposition to hold a recall referendum against the President, The National Electoral Council and its workers were again harassed by opposition political groups.
During the event to validate signatures in June, more than 20 officials were object of verbal and physical aggressions while they were fulfilling their duties.
Several CNE workers, including the top authorities, were the target of hatred campaigns in social media by opposition political leaders.
Five CNE seats in the states of Táchira, Trujillo, Carabobo, Yaracuy, Merida and Lara were victims of different degrees of aggression, including firearm shooting and throwing of incendiary devices.
The CNE authorities were forced to suspend labor activities on three occasions as a consequence of violent demonstrations against their facilities, as a measure to avoid aggressions against its officials.
Workers of The National Electoral Council were forced to file constitutional complaints with the Supreme Tribunal of Justice, as a consequence of threats against their physical integrity and obstacle to access their worksites.