Biagio Pilieri spokesman of the Democratic Unitary Platform speaks during a press conference in Caracas, Venezuela, 1 November 2023. EFE/ Miguel Gutiérrez

Despite summonses and rulings, Venezuelan opposition ratifies validity of primaries

Caracas, Nov 1 (EFE).- Venezuela’s opposition, grouped in the United Democratic Platform (PUD), on Wednesday affirmed the legitimacy of the Oct. 22 primaries, won by María Corina Machado, despite an open investigation by the Attorney General’s Office and a suspension order by the Supreme Court.

“The primaries were an absolute, resounding and unquestionable success, and neither summonses nor rulings will erase that,” said former congressman Biagio Pilieri, spokesman for the anti-Chavez bloc, at a press conference.

The pro-government Electoral Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ) accepted an appeal for legal protection against the primaries introduced by José Brito, a dissident opposition deputy who was accused of collaboration by other opposition members and who was prevented from running in the primaries.

Brito claimed that the number of participants in the primaries, 2.4 million in Venezuela and abroad according to the organizers, was “inflated.”

The PUD also expressed its support and solidarity with the National Primary Commission, the organizers of the electoral process, whose main leaders were summoned to testify on Monday by the Attorney General’s Office to answer allegations of fraud.

In this sense, Pilieri, on behalf of the majority sector of the opposition, rejected “all kinds of intimidating and abusive actions” against the members of the commission.

The public prosecutor, Tarek William Saab, opened an investigation into the alleged commission of crimes of usurpation of electoral function and identity, as well as money laundering and association to commit crimes.

The National Primary Commission was created by the PUD when the National Electoral Council, the state body, refused to guarantee that candidates with disqualifications for public office could register for the opposition primaries.

Chavismo, in power for 24 years, has used the disqualification of opposition leaders as a political tool against them. Henrique Capriles, Leopoldo López, Juan Guaidó and Maria Corina Machado, the most visible opposition leaders of the last two decades, have all been barred from running for office.

Machado, who won the primaries with 92.35% of the vote, was the latest victim of disqualification when in July 2023 the National Comptroller’s Office, an administrative body and not a court of law, disqualified her for the next 15 years for allegedly supporting international sanctions against Nicolás Maduro and failing to declare bonuses she received when she was a congresswoman.

The United States has lifted some of its sanctions against Venezuela on Oct. 18 in exchange for electoral guarantees for the 2024 presidential elections, demanding, among other things, the definition of “a specific timeline and process for the expedited reinstatement of all candidates”. EFE