Venezuela continues to be deeply affected by a complex humanitarian emergency and a multi-dimensional crisis. This emergency has its origin in a long process of abandonment of the basic responsibilities of the State, as well as in the dismantling of its institutional capacities to address major social and public health crises effectively and to guarantee human rights.
In this context, civil society is making an effort to advance a peaceful and negotiated solution to the political and humanitarian crisis, taking into account its different dimensions.
The sectors and organizations that are part of the Foro Cívico understand that an electoral solution by itself will not solve the crisis that Venezuela is currently undergoing. However, they also understand that a peaceful solution to the Venezuelan conflict inevitably requires the holding of free, fair and democratic elections and for that to be possible, there should be a political will for change and acceptance among the different political actors.
The Center for Justice and Peace (CEPAZ), Dialogo Social and Foro Civico organized- a virtual event to discuss the brief the international community about the Foro Civico and to discuss on the ways in which the international community can support in a coordinated and purposeful manner the efforts being made to demand that political actors participate in the task of reaching agreements that result in benefits for the population.
General considerations about the work of the Foro Cívico in Venezuela and its current agenda
- The Foro Civico seeks to promote better conditions for citizen trust and participation.
- Currently, Foro Civico has managed to have civil society voices within the Electoral Nominations Committee by nominating 15 candidates for the position of principals; they have also pressured relevant international actors to take a stand on the importance of achieving a balanced Electoral National Council (CNE) in Venezuela.
- By proposing candidates for the Electoral National Council (CNE) principals, the Foro Cívico challenged political inertia. They presented candidates with credentials, capacity, credibility, and proven commitment to strengthen the electoral institutions, as well as to restore the right of Venezuelans to elect their own political leaders.
- After weeks of civil demonstrations and continuous negotiations between representatives of the opposition and the Maduro government a new National Electoral Council (CNE) has been appointed in Venezuela on the 4th of May, 2021.
- The designation of members of the Foro Civico as part of the new National Electoral Council opens a new cycle in the history of an institution whose questionable performance undermined confidence in the vote. It is a first step towards the difficult recovery of democratic institutions in Venezuela.
- The Foro Civico seeks to allow the possibility of a national dialogue that includes all sectors and leads Venezuela to a comprehensive negotiation that ensures democratic stability and future governance. Its fundamental demands are:
- Institutional electoral arbitration in order to promote different actions and solutions for the crisis in Venezuela. Having an impartial Electoral Nacional Council (CNE) is essential in order to have free and fair elections. Foro Civico seeks to move towards better conditions which can promote trust and citizen participation.
- Reestablishment of political pluralism: This is necessary to reestablish the right of political parties to use their own symbols and to be led by their own legitimate authorities. This demand also includes the release of political prisoners, and the political habilitation of opposition political leaders.
- National and international electoral observation: It is important for the countries which support an electoral solution for Venezuela to help in promoting the involvement of the United Nations electoral assistance mechanisms, and the deployment of a UN Assessment Mission. Unlike other countries, Venezuela will have elections not only within the context of a complex humanitarian emergency (now aggravated by the Covid19 pandemic) but also without basic political agreements among the main political actors.
- Updating and purging of the Electoral Registry: This is something that the CNE must do in order to allow the registration of millions of young people who are not registered, and other millions who are outside the country without proper IDs and without the right to participate in elections.
- Respect for the popular vote: This should be understood not only as respect for the results on Election Day but also as a guarantee for effective exercise of political power on the part of the elected authorities once they are sworn in. That implies the right of elected authorities to exercise their faculties without having to go through mechanisms created at the last minute to limit their power or without having their powers usurped or drastically curtailed by alternate figures created by the regime, such as the so called “Protectors”.