|Armed forces sent to "guard" the electoral process in Venezuela|
|Maduro's PSUV campaigning on election day in violation of the law|
Former presidents from Latin America, Luis Alberto Lacalle of Uruguay, Andrés Pastrana of Colombia, Jorge Quiroga of Bolivia and Laura Chinchilla of Costa Rica had their credentials suspended and Diosdado Cabello called for their expulsion from Venezuela for having criticized the irregularities in the election.
|Venezuelans lining up to vote this morning in legislative elections (Photo: RMP)|
(1) Ballot positioning: the ruling party is highlighted in the first ballot box, the main opposition party gets lost among countless squares, colors and symbols of minor parties.These are some of the reasons that international organizations have expressed their concerns about today's legislative elections and are trying to assist with observers. María Corina Machado over twitter yesterday explained the stakes: "Win by a landslide or a monumental fraud will be done that we will not accept."
(2) Mainstream media controlled by Maduro. Since 2000 the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, have reiterated the lack of freedom of expression in Venezuela. On November 30, 2015 international reporters were required to sign a good conduct pledge before the election.
(3) Political violence and intimidation are constant. Opposition candidate Luis Manuel Diaz was assassinated. President Nicolas Maduro said that the murder of Diaz was due to a clash between gangs.
(4.) Maduro set the clock back in Latin America three decades, when he did not accept international election observation.
(5) Leopoldo Lopez, one of the leading opposition leaders remains in prison despite complaints from the UN, the IACHR and human rights organizations. Next to him are about seventy others made up of political leaders and students. Lopez was sentenced to 13 years, 9 months, 7 days and 12 hours in prison in a political show trial.
(6) Several opposition leaders have been declared ineligible to be candidates in the elections by Maduro including popular candidates Leopoldo Lopez Mendoza and more recently María Corina Machado. Regional human rights courts found Maduro's disqualification procedure running afoul of the American Convention.
(7) State of siege extended to 23 municipalities in the states of Zulia, Tachira and Apure, prohibiting, among others the rights to public assembly, of transit and to demonstrate peacefully. In these municipalities the military is the "sole authority" that responds directly to Nicolas Maduro who appointed them.