The Venezuelan opposition concluded the “popular advisory” vote to disavow President Nicolas Maduro’s government, days after it boycotted the congressional elections, which they considered fraudulent.
The consultations started around Monday and ended with personal participation on Saturday.
With 87 percent of the responses reviewed, the opposition said fewer than 6.5 million people participated. Of these, more than 3 million people voted, and 2.4 million voted online. The opposition reported that approximately 845,000 Venezuelans abroad participated.
The turnout claim cannot be independently verified.
The consultations asked Venezuelans whether they want to change the government and whether they reject the election results, which saw the Maduro-led political coalition win more than 90 percent of the seats in the legislature. Congress was the last government institution not in the hands of the ruling Socialist Party.
The Maduro government said 5.2 million Venezuelans, or about 31 percent of eligible voters, cast their ballots in the Congressional vote.
Opposition leader Juan Guaidó, the outgoing speaker of the National Assembly, and other prominent opposition parties have called on people to boycott the vote.
They claimed the operation was tampered with in Maduro’s favor, a claim echoed by the Western countries that supported Guaidó.
Shortly before the results of the unofficial vote were announced on Saturday, Guaidó tweeted, “Hope has been mobilized in Venezuela.
“We must highlight the heroic people who have mobilized across the country and the world to defend their rights.”
‘The last resource’
Maduro played down the advice, calling Guaido a “quack” and “puppet” of the United States.
“Nobody can believe that these online consultations have legal or constitutional value – an informational value only,” Maduro said Thursday.
“I want to emphasize that this is the last resource we have in the constitution,” Blanca Marmoul, a former Supreme Court judge who helped organize the popular counsel for the opposition, told a news conference.
On Saturday, organizers reported incidents in 11 of Venezuela’s 24 states, in which police and ruling party supporters removed some opposition websites for the unofficial vote.
Merla Di Lorenzo, a 50-year-old bank employee who voted in the popular counsel in her Caracas neighborhood, said she was tired of a situation “that only brought us poverty”.
She told the Associated Press news agency that her daughter moved to Spain and her sister immigrated to Chile from among her relatives who fled the country.
“You cannot compete with deceivers, people who use force, with people who have weapons,” she said. “There is no way.”
Marco Blanco, a 54-year-old taxi driver in the western Katia neighborhood of Caracas, said he was unaware of the vote.
He said, “I heard something about an inquiry, I don’t know what it was for.” “I listened, but very vague. Almost nothing.”
In addition to seeking to unite Venezuelans who dislike Maduro, the symbolic referendum was aimed at sending a message to international supporters, said Risa Grace Tarjo, a Venezuelan analyst with the Eurasia Group.
“They organized a process for their foreign partners from the United States to the European Union and regional governments,” Grace Tarjo told the Associated Press. “So they can continue to support him even when he no longer controls the National Assembly.”
The US ambassador to Venezuela, James Story, praised the opposition poll from the Colombian capital, where he has worked since the United States and Venezuela cut diplomatic ties and the United States closed its embassy in Caracas.
“We are proud to see the people of Venezuela on the street vote for their right to democracy, justice and freedom,” Story wrote on Twitter. I heard their voices. Democracy must return to Venezuela. “
Meanwhile, Maduro’s ruling party held a ceremony in historic downtown Caracas on Saturday to commemorate the victories of their National Assembly candidates, including Maduro’s wife and son. Politicians gave speeches denouncing domestic opposition and the interference of US policy in Venezuela. She played salsa music and people danced.
A political talk show broadcast on state television on Saturday evening showed a clip mocking the referendum by showing mobile phone videos said to have been recorded by people who drove their cars at polling stations in cities across the country.
“Nobody, absolutely no one,” says one unidentified driver. “Look, there are four people standing here and there talking nonsense.”
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