By Luis Manuel Aguana
Intervention in the Pío Tamayo Chair of the UCV on 19-11-2018
Once again my thanks to the Pío Tamayo Chair and to Prof. Agustín Blanco Muñoz for this new opportunity to debate Venezuela’s problems, especially in this dark hour when the Venezuelan desperately seeks answers from his political leadership but does not find them. The answers must and must also come from all of us in civil society. Today the Chair invites us to debate to try to answer a serious question: What is the resistance to be promoted to confront this revolution-socialism-communism-dictatorship?
On several occasions I have attended this Chair addressing various issues of a political nature, especially the electoral issue, and there I wish to focus some answers, especially a few weeks away from a new electoral process called by the regime on December 9.
I came to the Chair on October 21, 2013, in response to the electoral process of December 8 of that year to debate “The behavior of the electoral system on 8D-13, another edition of the same fraud-trap?” and the obligatory question of whether or not to attend that process given that, as indicated at the time, the technicians were convinced that there has been electoral fraud since the Revocatory Referendum of 2004.
My answer is still the same as it was then: if we are going to call on the population to abstain from voting, it should be because this call is part of a consolidated strategy among all the opponents, organised between civil society and parties that are not collaborators of the regime, with a specific answer to the population to the question of what to do after nobody is going to vote. No one has done that or tried to organize it until now.
Five years after that a lot has happened. The regime more than proved that it had been cheating in the elections for a long time, no longer said by us but by the same provider of electoral technology, SmartMatic, coupled with the fact that the CNE authorities are still not legitimate and completely biased in favor of the regime’s party. What do we do with that? Will we continue to knowingly endorse the election results in that situation?
It said then, paraphrasing Prince Hamlet in Act Three, Scene One of William Shakespeare’s play :“To vote, or not to vote, that is the question: Whether ‘tis nobler for democracy to suffer / The slings and arrows of outrageous fraud, / Or to take arms against a sea of troubles / not to validate it with our vote” (see in Spanish, Votar o no votar, he aquí la cuestión, en http://ticsddhh.blogspot.com/2013/10/votar-o-no-votar-he-aqui-la-cuestion.html). And that is the core question of this debate. How do we deal with this calamity? What is the civil resistance that we must develop in the face of this situation?
In my opinion, two sides of the same coin of electoral resistance are present here, and their application will depend on the willingness of civil society to confront the regime in this area.
The first of these is what I call passive electoral resistance, whose manifestation is simply not going to validate a new fraud. Stay at home without facing the hordes of the regime and let them see how they do to justify the millions of votes they need. We already did that on July 30, 2017 in the elections of the spurious Constituent of Maduro and on May 20, 2018 in the unconstitutional presidential elections. That had results: on July 30, 2017 Tibisay Lucena took off the hat of an electoral magician 8.1 million votes that nobody saw in the electoral centers and another similar situation happened on May 20. The consequence of that was that nobody in the world recognized those elections or the previous ones. People didn’t go because they didn’t believe in that electoral sainete.
After that last election, on June 13, 2018, the Electoral Chamber of the legitimate TSJ in exile published a sentence, the result of the initiative of Dr. Adriana Vigilanza, and in which I put my grain of sand as a witness, which declares “NULL AND INAPPLICABLE the use of the automated system of voting and scrutiny that currently exists in Venezuela for the election of the positions of popular representation of the public powers, as well as for the holding of referendums, in the terms indicated in article 293.5 of the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela”, and the National Electoral Council (CNE) was ordered, as the governing body of the electoral processes, “…the DEPURATION AND UPDATE of the National Electoral Registry, with the due corrections to be made to the identity of each Venezuelan or foreign citizen qualified to exercise the vote, as well as the design and implementation of a fundamentally manual voting and counting system, where the use of technology and information is auxiliary and only for the benefit of speed, publicity, transparency and efficiency of voting, scrutiny and totalization, without this implying limitation of the right of participation of voters and political parties or organizations, in full guarantee of public confidence in the exercise of suffrage”. The National Assembly was also urged to “begin the process of selection and appointment of new Rectors of the National Electoral Council, ensuring suitable and impartial arbitrators, not linked to organizations with political purposes, which can generate impartiality, transparency and efficiency in the organization, administration, direction and supervision of the next electoral processes”. (see sentence in Spanish TSJ Legítimo declara Nulo el Uso del Voto Automatizado para Elecciones en Venezuela, at http://ticsddhh.blogspot.com/2018/06/tribunal-supremo-de-justicia-declara.html) (highlighted by us).
The CNE and the National Assembly have ignored these provisions and, without complying with them, are once again preparing to carry out and participate in a new electoral process on December 9, 2018 under the same known fraudulent conditions. Those elections are already NULL according to that ruling of June 13, 2018.
It could be said that there is a before and after of this historic ruling of the legitimate TSJ, which gives an important turn to the electoral question. Venezuelans have not realized how transcendental that decision is, and that it has a lot to do with how to approach now the electoral civil resistance to the regime.
As of June 13, 2018 the elections in Venezuela are manuals, even if the regime or the CNE does not want it. The CNE has been ordered to purge the Electoral Registry and the “design and implementation of a fundamentally manual voting and counting system…”.
Consequently, citizens may disobey, but this time in an active manner, participation in a new electoral process that does not meet the conditions that have been ordered by a sentence with this flawed automated system of the CNE. In a practical way, this is what the students have done in their internal elections to choose their representation for several years, which is why the opposition has consistently won these processes in spite of the violence unleashed by the regime, as has just occurred at the University of Carabobo.
What would happen, for example, if citizens were activated and organized to count their own votes in the circuits of those December 9 municipal elections, just as the students have done so far? That would be active civil-electoral resistance. There would not be many tables per circuit and the result, in spite of a probable violent attack, would be very similar to the real popular will, presenting the regime with a citizen challenge to address in the municipalities where the opposition parties insist on voting for that of “not losing the spaces”. So let those parties organize that resistance in conjunction with civil society and set up manual voting kiosks for citizens who wish to face CNE fraud.
To answer the Chair’s question, my answer would be that both sides, both passive and active, can be pushed forward until the judgment of 13 June 2018 is complied with. It would be a non-violent civil-electoral resistance that permanently demonstrates to the world the citizens’ rejection of this vicious electoral system of the regime that governs us.
On November 24, 2013, I announced publicly through an article that I published with the title “Why I will not give you my vote” (see in Spanish http://ticsddhh.blogspot.com/2013/11/porque-no-les-dare-mi-voto.html) my decision not to vote anymore as long as this perverse electoral system of dictatorship existed. I had internalized and put into practice, contrary to everyone, my family, my friends and followers, a fundamental sentence: “Abstentionism only exists in DEMOCRACY. In DICTATORSHIP what exists is civic protest expressed in Nonviolent Struggle”. Prof. Agustín Blanco Muñoz replied with a note that I still thank him for: “As the capacity for reflection like the one that you put forth in this article of commitment and decision advances, the possibilities of clearly and successfully confronting this regime that administers and leads Venecuba’s high command headed by Fidel Castro and the G2 will grow”. Five years later, I believe that society’s capacity for reflection has advanced and, although still distant, I believe that the possibilities have grown. The fact that we are still here proves it…
Thank you so much,
Caracas, November 19, 2018