On May 25, the voters of San Diego, Carabobo State and San Cristobal, Táchira State, will go to the polls to elect new mayors for their respective cities.
Although six candidates are registered in each election, the ten-day campaigns are widely considered two-person races between anti-government candidates sponsored by Democratic Unity Table (MUD) and the Great Patriotic Poll (GPP which includes the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela, PSUV).
In San Diego, where 60,614 voters are registered, Rosa Brandonisio de Scarano is the MUD candidate and also the wife of ousted mayor Enzo Scarano. He is currently serving a ten and a half month sentence for violating a Supreme Court order to remove anti-government street barricades in San Diego. She is facing off against the GPP candidate, Alexis Abreu.
Rosa Scarano began her official campaign yesterday with a demonstration demanding freedom for her convicted husband and claimed the purpose of her candidacy is to “recover justice and liberty that has been lost in this country.”
Her MUD supporters, including the National Executive Secretary of MUD, Ramon Guillermo Aveledo, urged votes to put their confidence “in a fighter like Rosa, who during ten years worked side by side with Mayor Enzo Scarano, cooperating and developing social and cultural projects to make San Diego the best municipality in Venezuela.”
The GPP candidate, Abreu, faces an uphill battle to win the majority of votes in San Diego, a stronghold of anti-government opposition. During the December 2013 municipal elections, the MUD won with more than 75% of the vote. According to the Facebook page for the City of San Diego, yesterday Abreu suspended the kickoff of his walking campaign tour “to avoid confrontations with sympathizers of other political parties” which had also been authorized to use the same route.
In San Cristobal, where 207,403 voters are eligible to go to the polls, the leading candidate is Patricia de Ceballos, sponsored by the MUD and wife of convicted Mayor Daniel Ceballos. Her husband was banned from office and sentenced to 12 months in prison for refusing Supreme Court orders to end the violent street barricades. Alejandro Mendez of the GPP is her main electoral opponent.
Towards the end of April, even before official campaigning began, the MUD Metropolitan Mayor of Caracas, Antonio Ledezma, along with other MUD luminaries, travelled to San Cristobal and called on opposition supporters to “vote massively for Ceballos… the courageous woman who…rejects abuses that have been committed.”
While the MUD mayoral candidates are standing firmly on a conservative platform to restore their husbands to office and defend anti-government violence, Mendez, the GPP candidate in San Cristobal, pledged to “establish peace, tranquility and chart a new course for San Cristobal.” On the first day of campaigning, he emphasized his commitment to peace. “Today begins a countdown until San Cristobal finally has a mayor who loves the city and under no conditions will allow terrorism and violence to seize it.”
Yet during the December 2013 municipal elections, the husband of the current MUD candidate for San Cristobal won nearly 68% of the vote. Since then the city saw the first violent anti-government barricades and attacks on public workers.
The GPP’s Mendez, however, remains upbeat. He emphasized that his platform was one based on guaranteeing security and health for the citizens of the city. He said that 85 percent of San Cristóbal residents rejected on-going violence, and that the population desired peace and the ability to return to work.
In the December 2013 municipal elections, candidates identified with the government won around 75% of mayoral seats, with the pro-government coalition beating the opposition in the popular vote by a 10% margin.