By Nino Pagliccia – Jan 11, 2022
Last Sunday, January 9, many Venezuelans received the news of an electoral result that undoubtedly disappointed those who support Chavismo and made opponents happy. That was the election for governor of the state of Barinas that was repeated following the irregularities detected on November 21 in the previous candidacy presented by the extreme right.
Jorge Arreaza himself, the candidate of the Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela (PSUV), broke the news with the following words: “Dear Barinas. The information we receive from our PSUV organization indicates that, although we increased in number of votes, we have not achieved the objective. I warmly thank our heroic militancy. We will continue to protect the Barinese people from all areas.“
The journalist Geraldina Colotti reminds us that similar words were pronounced by Hugo Chavez after the failure of the civic-military rebellion of February 4, 1992 when he said “Comrades, the objectives have not been achieved … for now.” We already know what followed.
This electoral loss was a surprise in that it is difficult to identify a more qualified candidate than Jorge Arreaza to represent the Bolivarian revolution as state governor. His history of personal closeness to Hugo Chavez and his impeccable performance as Minister of foreign affairs (Chancellor) of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela have given him a special capacity to govern, duly noted by those who closely follow Venezuela’s foreign relations. But perhaps the position of Chancellor has not put him very close to the popular base in a single state.
Arreaza himself almost alluded to that when he said: “Our people tell us that we have neglected the bases, that we have not worked enough for their well-being despite the imperialist blockade that is imposed on us every day, and that we must be more revolutionary.” Those were brave words of self-criticism that show his political and personal integrity but no one can agree that he has not worked enough for the welfare of the people. He has worked hard for the well-being not only of the Barinese people but of all Venezuelans as Chancellor since 2017.
Arreaza is a prominent personality in Venezuelan politics and his appointment as a candidate indicates the importance on the part of Chavismo to maintain strategic control of Barinas, a state that is usually considered a border state, strongly affected by Colombian paramilitary and drug trafficking activity, although technically it does not share a border with the neighboring nation. The town of El Cantón is less than 80 kilometers from La Victoria, Apure state, where Colombian paramilitary bands sowed violence and killed more than ten Venezuelan soldiers in March and April 2021.
However, we cannot ignore the disappointment of having lost in the Barinas state, which represents so much symbolically for the Chavistas as it is the birthplace of Hugo Chavez. But that’s just a sentiment that will soon have to be overcome as Chavez has transcended Barinas to go global. His birthplace is Venezuela. His cradle is the Patria Grande (Great Homeland). His cradle is wherever independence and social justice are needed.
Arreaza seems to be aware of the universality and continuity of the struggle by reaffirming his Bolivarian commitment with his promise that, “We will fight to the point of exhaustion so that our country remains free and we will redouble our efforts to recover, in the next elections, the governorships and municipalities lost.” Of course that is also the Homeland of Bolivar, the visionary of the Patria Grande.
The winner of the Barinas governorship has been Sergio Garrido who has been sponsored by Ramos Allup, the secretary general of the Acción Democratica party, and the former candidate Freddy Superlano, after the controversy over the ruling of the Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ), which ordered the repetition of the elections for governor and disqualified the candidate of the Democratic Unity Table (MUD), Freddy Superlano, from running again.
Garrido is the current regional secretary of Acción Democratica in the state of Barinas, and has been a member of the party since 1984. During the November 21 elections, Sergio Garrido was elected regional deputy and headed the list of MUD deputies.
During his political career, Garrido was a councilor in the management of former mayor José Luis Machín (2013-2017) and presided over the Mayor’s Office of the Barinas municipality in the 2015-2016 period. His history and political notoriety in the state were surely factors in his favor in the elections. But the Barinese people will have to carefully observe the policies of the new governor but also that the territorial integrity be maintained.
With Barinas there are now four states under the control of the opposition of the 23 Venezuelan states, or 24 territorial entities if the Capital District is included. The Bolivarian revolution and Chavismo remain strong with the support of the majority of Venezuelans. The United States “has not achieved the goal” of regime change in Venezuela despite the most brutal economic coercive measures imposed over the past seven years. The main reason is that while the US insists on making people believe that there is a dictatorship in Venezuela, Venezuela responds with demonstrations of democracy such as the mega-elections on November 21 and the elections last Sunday in Barinas. While the US insists on saying that the elections in Venezuela are a fraud, Venezuela responds with the dignity of a good loser in fair elections. This is not the end. Just the beginning of a different victory.
Featured image: PSUV candidate Jorge Arreaza after casting his vote last Sunday, January 9. Photo: BBC News.
Nino Pagliccia is a Venezuelan-Canadian statistician who writes about international relations with a focus on the Americas. Nino Pagliccia has managed collaborative projects with Cuban partners in the University of British Columbia’s Global Health Research Program. He is the editor of "Cuba Solidarity in Canada—Five Decades of People-to-People Foreign Relations" (2014). He has been the vice-president of the Canadian-Cuban Friendship Association in Vancouver and founding co-chair of the Canadian Network on Cuba. He has led groups doing volunteer work in Cuba for over 12 years.
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