A few days before regime-sponsored gubernatorial elections on Sunday, 18 Venezuelan political prisoners being held at the notorious El Helicoide prison– a former futuristic shopping mall— released an open letter to the people of Venezuela.
The prisoners did not call for a boycott. Instead they urged people to do what they themselves cannot– vote.
We’re taking the risk of writing this statement from El Helicoide’s dungeons, where Nicolás Maduro keeps us imprisoned for the crime of exercising our freedom of thought. We do it in the hope that the people of Venezuela will rise up and express their will on behalf of all us who are being silenced. The democracy missing in our country today remains alive in the heart of Venezuelans.
We’re asking the people to participate massively in these elections, voting for Democratic Unity Roundtable candidates and actively working in polling stations, mobilizing and informing voters and defending votes in every electoral center.
These elections were illegally delayed by the same CNE [government election commission] that has prevented the people from expressing their political will since 2016, on Nicolás Maduro’s orders. And even now, as they’re forced to call for elections, the CNE itself has dismissed candidate replacements on the electoral ballot, arbitrarily scrapped voting stations and imposed uneven and, therefore, unconstitutional conditions. Despite all of that, we’re the majority and we’re unstoppable. Today, we’re not voting because we’re in a democracy, we vote because we can’t give democracy away. Elections are an irreplaceable method for those who believe in freedom to raise our voice against fraud and repression.
And for urging people to participate in the regime’s elections, the regime is punishing them by denying family visits (and who knows what else).
Many of these political prisoners hold distinctly left-of-center views. But because they dare to oppose the Bolivarian regime, they are treated as rightwing enemies of the state.
Ever since I started posting at Harry’s Place about Venezuela, I’ve been at pains to emphasize that there has been a principled democratic leftwing opposition to Hugo Chavez and now Maduro.