Sep 18, 2015
The National Electoral Council (Consejo Nacional Electoral, CNE) rectors decided to partially admit the complaint filed against the nomination of Carlos Vecchio of the Popular Will party (Voluntad Popular, VP) in the state of Monagas. This is the first candidate from the opposition that the electoral body has rejected.
Carlos Vecchio has been on the run from Venezuelan law enforcement since an arrest warrant was issued on February 17, 2014 by Supervisory Judge 16 of Caracas, Ralenis Tovar Guillén (who also ordered the detention of the main leader of VP, Leopoldo López) for allegedly planning the violent events that took place after the student and opposition protest on February 12, 2014. In the arrest warrant issued by the Public Ministry, Vecchio is named as responsible for the criminal offences of planning illegal activities, arson, incitement and criminal association.
For the upcoming parliamentary elections, the Democratic Unity Roundtable (Mesa de la Unidad Democrática, MUD) nominated Carlos Vecchio as the first list candidate for Monagas. However, the rectors partially admitted the contestation of his nomination, presented by a member of the PSUV, who argued that Vecchio is a fugitive from justice, as he is linked to the 2014 protests against the government.
The CNE decision also said that Carlos Vecchio’s nomination would constitute legal “fraud.” This conclusion was based on the November 4, 2008 ruling of the Electoral Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice (Tribunal Supremo de Justicia, TSJ). In this decision, the judges prohibited the nomination of Eduardo Lapi as candidate in Yaracuy state. Lapi was also being sought by the authorities. The judges ruled that the nomination was a way to ensure his return into the country without the risk of his being incarcerated and thus constituted constitutional fraud. The TSJ rejected Lapi’s representatives’ argument that Modesto Freites and former president Carlos Andrés Pérez were elected governor and senator, respectively, “with the purpose of saving them from prison.” According to the TSJ, the cases of Modesto Freites and former president Carlos Andrés Pérez were different from Eduardo Lapi’s case because “while [Lapi] evaded prison, flagrantly violating the prohibition against fleeing stated in Article 259 of the Criminal Code (…) Modesto Freites and Pérez were following the orders of the Judicial Power.”
In response to this recent decision from the CNE, the new nominations from the opposition in Monagas are: José Gregorio Aparicio (first in the list), Dignora Hernández (second in the list) and Carmen Serrada (third in the list). The CNE published the list, which is expected to be incorporated in the Electoral Gazette once it is clear who the candidates are from the government party, the opposition and independents who have followed the legal requirements for nominations.