Venezuela’s Huge Diaspora Facing Hurdles in Registering to Vote

Fri Mar 29 2024
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BUENOS AIRES, Argentina: Millions of Venezuelans who fled the home country owing to economic misery could find themselves unable to vote in key July presidential elections, as complaints increase over hurdles at consulates abroad for those seeking to register as voters.

“We want to vote, we want to vote!” a tiny group of Venezuelans protesting outside the country’s Buenos Aires consulate was found as chanting in recent days. They were holding mock-ups of urns and ballots after being unable to sign up.

The registration was to start on March 18 and continue for a month, before the July 28 vote in which incumbent President Nicolas Maduro is seeking a third term with the opposition unable to field their first choices as contenders.

More worrying is the fact that in some countries in Europe and Latin America, the process hasn’t even started yet.

A Venezuelan Adriana Flores was found as saying outside the consulate in Argentina capital that, “Each consulate has its own demands which they communicate verbally, there is nothing official… no uniform criteria” to register.

According to the UN estimates, around eight million Venezuelans have fled their country since 2014 — the year after Maduro took office.

The past decade, especially, has seen a severe economic crisis marked by high inflation and food and medicine shortages, plunging the people into misery.

It was in 2018 when the last time the electoral register was updated for elections and only 107,000 Venezuelans signed up from abroad.

According to an opposition leader Eduardo Battistini, who lives in Colombia, home to 2.8 million Venezuelans, registration opened a week late there and no-one has yet been able to sign up.

The same thing is happening here that we are seeing in other countries, he said. He said the excuse is being given that the digital fingerprint machines that the national electoral council is supposed to send have not arrived yet which he denounced as “ridiculous” excuses.

Local media quoted Venezuelan authorities as attributing the delays in shipping the machines to international sanctions. In Spain also which is home to half a million Venezuelans, registration began a week late.


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