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Monday, 18 January, 2021

Candidates in controversial elections offering gifts to collect votes

Air conditioning units and cured meats. The promise of a skateboard, gasoline, or medicine. Not only is the December 6 vote criticized by the US and the EU as unfair and fraudulent, but the gifts the Maduro regime candidates offer also contradict Venezuelan electoral law.

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Several candidates from Madurismo, and even an opposition candidate, have made atypical donations to collect votes for the parliamentary elections of next December 6. In the different states of Venezuela, candidates to the National Assembly have used the most basic needs of the population to the campaign.
In at least one instance, the gift (illegal in a political campaign) was humanitarian aid brought into the country by UNICEF, the United Nations Children Fund.

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El Pitazo summarizes below the most unusual campaign gifts, and one promise, as an electoral offer before the legislative elections.

Gasoline

The Maduro regime candidate, Maikel Sanchez, self-described moto-taxis organizer, can get that gasoline for you (Venezuela has not produced fuel and has to import it from Iran) if you vote for him come December 6. Only one liter per bike, however. Corruption has been denounced in government sales of scarce, imported gasoline.

An electric transformer

Venezuela has been through an electric emergency since 2008. That is why the candidates of the Psuv delivered an electricity transformer to the community of the Corazon de Jesus sector, located in the state of Zulia, on September 23.

The unusual gift was, however, installed with the help of state electricity monopoly Corpoelec. Ruling party Psuv candidates for Zulia, Oscar Vasquez, Carlos Zabala, Damelis Chavez, and Jairo Gonzalez were merely on hand to deliver it, according to a press release from their campaign command in San Francisco.

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The gift of electricity, a service which is a right, according to the Venezuelan 1999 Constitution, was not only bestowed by chavismo in Zulia but also in neighboring Lara. Francisco Ameliach, leader of Psuv, delivered two in the north of Barquisimeto. Although he was not there during the maneuvers carried out by Corpoelec, spokespersons of the communal councils of the San Lorenzo and El Chalet sectors affirmed that the two teams arrived due to his efforts.

The unusual thing about this delivery of transformers is that on the same day that they were distributed, in the town of Cabudare, one of these devices and Corpoelec assured that they did not have a way to replace it.

Chicken and mortadella

On September 29, the candidate of the Psuv in Anzoategui, Alberto Gago, accompanied by other officials, delivered chickens and mortadella in El Viñedo. Besides defending a regime investigated by the UN and the ICC and taking part in the questioned vote, candidate Gago attacked the National Assembly while delivering gifts that are against the law in Venezuelan campaigns.

“Despite the difficulties that we are living because of the current parliament, here is the government of Nicolas Maduro, showing its face,” he said in a video that circulated in social networks.

Bags of food

Conrado Perez Linares, current deputy to the National Assembly (NA), is running for re-election in the representation of the state of Trujillo. As a campaign method, he gave away bags of food last September. He went to the facilities of the University Hospital Dr. Pedro Emilio Carrillo, in the municipality of Valera, where he gave the staff bags of food products. Venezuela is amid a pandemic and a humanitarian crisis, with food shortages and a four-year hyperinflation bout.

Light bulbs

Gilberto Pinto Blanco, candidate of Psuv for the state of Sucre, accompanied Sucre Governor Edwin Rojas (they should not campaign together, by the way) to distribute light bulbs in more than six communities of Cumana during the first week of October.

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“Sucre is moving towards an Enlightened State, more than 500 light bulbs delivered to the communities of Cumana,” published Pinto in his Twitter account.

School kits

Pinto also promoted pre-campaign activities (illegal) in the second week of October. In collaboration with Governor Rojas and other candidates for Parliament in the state, they brought more than 2000 school kits to the communities of Santa Fe. Among the supplies donated to the students were backpacks, uniforms, shoes, notebooks, pencils, paints, among others.

In Falcon, however, Psuv candidate Marelis Castro gave kits of notebooks and sports shoes donated by UNICEF to preschool and first-grade children in a school in the town of Sabaneta in the municipality of Miranda.

UNICEF denounced the move of Castro in a series of public tweets, calling on all political actors (only pro-Maduro parties are taking part in the vote) not to instrumentalize the humanitarian aid distributed in Venezuela, which is for supporting children. UNICEF indicated that the supplies and support are free and should be only for the care of children and their families.

Medical supplies

The candidates have taken advantage of the lack of supplies in the hospitals of the country. In the state of Monagas, a group of candidates for the National Assembly, with Governor Yelitze Santaella, gave away eight wheelchairs, a nebulizer, a blood pressure monitor, gloves, safety glasses, N95 masks, five 12,000-BTU air conditioners, as well as equipment to carry out maintenance of green areas.

Pati transport

Maduro candidate Diva Guzmán is, however, not giving anything away, except the promise that soon we will all travel on a wooden skateboard, which she calls “Pati Transport” like she is doing. She did not distribute food or objects in the communities of the state of Sucre, but, in her electoral campaign, she is promoting the new transportation system used by the inhabitants of agricultural sectors due to the lack of vehicles, gasoline, and spare parts.

Sardines

Opposition candidate to the National Assembly (NA) Javier Bertucci decided to give away sardines and soup dishes to citizens who participate in his election campaign tours. The candidate who belongs to the political party El Cambio also gave out baskets with supplies for newborns. One thing that stood out during his campaign is that he did not use a mask and did not maintain a social distance from COVID-19.

Additional reporting by Carlos Camacho in Caracas.

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