Dear readers, the following report summarizes the most important developments regarding the election process in Venezuela during the last week of August (Wednesday 22 Wednesday 29).
During a week marked by mourning, due to the refinery explosion of Amuay, both campaign teams reacted in different ways. They equally pronounced themselves quickly regarding the situation.However the opposition candidate suspended his “town for a town” tour, while the officialist candidate used the state´s mass media to continue campaigning; adding minutes of coverage to the 78 hours of nationwide broadcast he has summed up during this year.
1. Suspension of the Electoral Simulation and explosion in the refinery of Amuay
The voting simulation, ruled for August 26th of 2012, was reprogrammed by the National Electoral Council (CNE) for September 2nd in the foreseen conditions.
The president of the National Electoral Council (CNE), Tibisay Lucena, declared that « out of respect for the painful situation affecting the country” the CNE announces the suspension of such simulation as an expression of sorrow and solidarity with the families of the victims affected; both by the heavy rains during the weekend, and the explosion of the oil refinery in Amuay (1).
The explosion of two propane-butane gas tanks in the Amuay refinery at the Paraguaná Refining
Complex, located in Estado Falcón, occurred at about 1:11am on Saturday August 25th, a day before the electoral simulation (2). According to the governor of the state, Stella Lugo, they have recorded so far that 48 people died as a result of that explosion (3).
Given the facts, the president and presidential candidate Hugo Chávez arrived at the Amuay refinery on Sunday August 26th to “give strength to the families of the missing, the dead and the wounded”, and he informed that several National Guard officials are missing, and that the government is dedicated to aid in this tragic disaster (4).
Meanwhile, the presidential candidate Henrique Capriles, issued a statement on behalf of the Venezuelan Command, expressing, its solidarity and support to the victims of the explosion and their families (5). Capriles also qualified President Hugo Chavez as “irresponsible and insensitive” because of statements made on his visit to the refinery on Sunday saying that “the show must go on” as closing lines at the military post-mortem ceremony; furthermore he asked the national government to investigate the causes and identify those responsible for the devastating explosion at the Amuay refinery, given that “the government must take responsibility” for the occurred events (6).
2. Súmate demands the CNE to reveal the results of the simulations
The nonprofit civil organization Súmate, with experience facilitating citizen participation processes, through its representative Dashiell López, requested to the CNE the publication of the results of the two fulfilled simulations – on July 14th and August 5th, respectively – with the objective of informing voters, witnesses and members of the polling station, the voting procedure timing, the operation of the fingerprint reader devise and the organization of everything that comprises the process of voting (7).
3. Capriles presents “Hecho en Venezuela”
The presidential candidate, Henrique Capriles Radonski, presented on August 21st in Barquisimeto his plan “Hecho en Venezuela” (Made in Venezuela), with the objective of ending the dependence on imports and oil (8). The candidate explained that “for each good we export, we import three. We are spending more of 46 billon dollars importing products from other countries. We import 70% of our food demand” (9).
In this way, the program presented by the candidate of the Unity will seek to reduce the spending on imported products, diversify the economy and increase exports, in turn generating 3 million new quality jobs, at a rate of 500 thousand per year. (10)
Capriles Radonski assured his plan will be limited to a set of rules, in order to protect the producers and seek confidence in investors. “No more confiscations, no more expropriations. The confiscations have been a failure. The State must begin to enforce rules and protect producers. We believe in a government that promotes production” (11).
4. Chávez and his plans for Sucre
During a meeting held in Cumaná, the president-candidate Chávez, presented 10 plans he wants to carry out in the state of Sucre in order to generate a wave of development along the oriental region.
Among these plans was the commencement stage of “Mariscal Sucre” Gas Project, which expects to generate 300,000 cubic feet of gas per day. Furthermore, the “General Bermúdez” Gas Duct, which will range from Campo Dragón to Güiria, crossing Cumaná (Sucre´s Capital City) and Barcelona (Anzoátegui’s Capital City) with an additional divergence to Margarita Island (Nueva Esparta state).
Along with the rest of the plans presented by the president there is a petroleum harbour in Araya, with the capacity to receive vessels with up to one million barrels of oil. In addition, the plan includes a storage centre of approximately 20 million barrels of oil in the same waterfront.
Following the remaining of the President’s proposals; there is a project for the construction of a thermoelectric plant of one thousand megawatts in Güiria, a Cocoa Agro industrial complex in Carúpano, the intention to boost the semi-industrialization of the fishing business, looking forward to benefit over 378,000 fishermen and finishing the “Gran Mariscal de Ayacucho” highway.
In conclusion, the construction of a railroad that, according to Chávez, “will pass throughout the Orinoco River, Maturín, Cumaná and towards the deep water harbour of Araya” is expected to cost around 7 billion bolívares.
5. Voters in Miami
Last week, the directors of the Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE – Venezuela’s elections regulator organ), Vicente Díaz and Sandra Oblitas, held a meeting with the representative of “Mesa de la Unidad” (Opposition´s unity party) in Miami, Nidia Villegas, in order to agree upon the electors’ guarantees of suffrage for those who reside in the State of Florida. These represent around 70% of Venezuela’s foreign voters. Since the Venezuelan consulate remains inactive, 23,000 Venezuelans have been unconstitutionally reallocated from Miami to New Orleans in order to vote in the October elections. Voters have exposed their difficulties to travel 400 km to Louisiana State.
The gap between different pollsters that survey the voting trends for the next elections has decreased between August 15th and 21st.
According to a study lead by Consultores 30.11, the voting intention is currently around 57% favouring President Hugo Chavéz while a 33.7% would vote for opposition candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski (12). The study took place between August 18th and 21st, where over 3200 people were interviewed (13). Of those interviewed, 81.2% manifested their will to vote.
On the same line, a different pollster, Varianzas, published a poll that took place between the 2nd and 15th of August where President Hugo Chavéz had a 49.3% intention of vote against a 47.2% of opposition candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski, while 3.5% remain undecided (14).
These results are consistent with those published by the firm Hernández Hercon and Predicmática, as presented in our previews newsletter as following : “According to the results given by the pollster firm Hernández Hercon made by evaluating 2700 people, Capriles spearheads the intention of the votes versus Chávez in a relation of 48.6% to 44.2%. These results seem to be in line with the ones provided by the last polling of “Predicmática”, which evaluated 1600 people, and placed the vote intentions in favour of Capriles with a 48.3% against 43.90% for President Chávez. (15)
The Venezuelan Student Movement