Friday, December 4, 2020

Doubts Over Electoral Integrity Following Opposition Leader’s Assassination

Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela vice president

Venezuelan opposition leader Luis Manuel Diaz, head of the Democratic Action Party, was shot and killed at a rally in Altagracia de Orituco ahead of this month’s legislative elections in which the ruling United Socialist Party is, for the first time in its nearly 16 years since coming to power, in danger of losing control of the National Assembly.

Diaz was shot when a man approached the stage following Diaz’s remarks to the crowd. The U.S. State Department Spokesman John Kirby issued a statement that read, “we call on the Government of Venezuela to protect all political candidates and we call on the National Electoral Council to ensure that this campaign is conducted in a manner to encourage full participation by the people of Venezuela. We further note that campaigns of fear, violence, and intimidation have no place in democracy.”

Numerous other opposition leaders in Venezuela including Miranda State Governor Henrique Capriles, who stood unsuccessfully against President Nicolas Maduro in the last presidential election, have stated that they have been victims of intimidation and violence in the weeks running up to the December 6th vote.

For its part, the socialist government of President Maduro has said that the recent violence and assassination of Diaz is no more than gang related activity.

Responding to opposition claims and statements from the United States, the United Nations, and Venezuela’s Latin American neighbors, Brazil, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez commented that “trying to link a murder between criminal gangs with Venezuela’s electoral process shows desperation and bad faith.”

 

Latin Post, BBC