Venezuelan Government Announces December Elections, Fulfilling Longtime Opposition Demand

Tibisay Lucena, President of Venezuela's National Electoral Council (CNE). (Image: Agencia de Notícias ANDES, CC BY-SA 2.0)
Tibisay Lucena, President of Venezuela's National Electoral Council (CNE). (Image: Agencia de Notícias ANDES, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Top Story — Venezuela’s electoral council on Monday set a date of Dec. 6 for legislative elections, fulfilling a long-held demand of the political opposition, which is currently polling favorably against the incumbent socialist party.

Tibisay Lucena, the head of the National Electoral Council (CNE), said the decision was not made due to pressure from the opposition. Figures like Leopóldo Lopez, the former mayor of the Caracas municipality of Chacao, have staged hunger strikes to demand the government call legislative elections. While President Nicolás Maduro’s United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) holds a majority in the National Assembly, polls show that it would lose many seats to the opposition if elections were held today, The Associated Press reported.

As the AP notes, however, some of the candidates expected to appear on ballots for opposition parties such as the Popular Will are in jail for their alleged role in inciting violence during protests that gripped much of the country in 2014.

The election on Dec. 6 will mirror the first time Maduro’s predecessor and mentor Hugo Chávez was elected to the presidency in 1998, an office he held until his death in 2013. Since Chávez’s election, the PSUV has held a majority of seats in the National Assembly.

The party has faced difficulties in recent years. Inflation, shortages of basic goods and rising violent crime have been a drag on the PSUV’s popularity. Additionally, its platform of funding generous social welfare programs with oil revenues, which has earned the PSUV the loyalty of a large base of lower and middle-class voters, has been compromised by a global drop in oil prices.

Headlines from the Western Hemisphere

North America

  • One of the police officers who shot unarmed Mexican farmworker Antonio Zambrano-Montes in February, has announced his resignation following mass protests and an ongoing investigation.

Caribbean

  • Migrants in the Dominican Republic– largely from neighboring Haiti– have been offered assistance from the government in the form of a free bus across the border, ahead of anticipated mass deportations.
  • The first movie theater in Haiti’s capital of Port-au-Prince to operate in over 20 years opened its doors Monday in a newly renovated downtown square, a potential sign of progress and change in the city still recovering from the 2010 earthquake.
  • Famed American author Ernest Hemingway’s historic Cuban home, now a museum in the outskirts of Havana, will receive nearly $900,000 dollars of supplies from a U.S. foundation, the first large shipment of construction materials since the U.S. and Cuba restored diplomatic relations in December.

Central America

  • Levels of fear regarding gang violence in El Salvador have reached such extremes that women are even dying their hair, or avoid wearing certain colors, due to rumors that it will make them the target of attacks.
  • Dozens of migrants from Central America told police they were kidnapped in southern Mexico by a gang posing as security forces who stopped their bus and held them for hours, stealing their belongings, until they were able to fight back and escape.

Andes

  • Former FARC rebels face a difficult road ahead in attempting to re-enter society after nearly a lifetime spent fighting in the Colombian jungle, an issue that will become all the more urgent if a peace deal is reached between the government and the leftist rebel group, reports Reuters.
  • The Colombian Supreme Court has ruled that Miguel Ángel Alfaro– better known as El Flaco– a drug-trafficking intermediary between Colombia’s Urabeños cartel and Mexico’s Los Zetas, be extradited to the United States and face narco-trafficking charges in Texas, a decision indicative of the Urabeños’s position as the preeminent drug cartel in Colombia.

Southern Cone

  • Officials in Chile’s capital city of Santiago declared a state of environmental emergency on Monday due to pollution smog, forcing hundreds of businesses to shut down and banning thousands of cars from navigating the streets.
  • Citing the case brought against FIFA by U.S. authorities as an inspiration, the Brazilian federal prosecutor’s office announced on Monday that it will seek help from the United States in building the case against high-ranking government and business officials in the Petrobras corruption case.

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