Reuters, Afp and Ap

La Jornada newspaper
Monday, January 10, 2022, p. 23

Barinas. Sergio Garrido, standard-bearer for the opposition Democratic Unity Table (MUD), won yesterday the repetition of the elections in the state of Barinas, eastern Venezuela, confirmed the National Electoral Council (CNE), so it will no longer be governed by the family of the late President Hugo Chávez for the first time since 1998.

With 97.4 percent of the minutes counted, the highest electoral body reported that Garrido was victorious with 57.36 percent of the intention to vote (172 thousand votes), followed by Jorge Arreaza, from the official Gran Polo Patriótico (GPP), with 41 points (128 thousand votes) and Claudio Fermin, from the opposition Solutions for Venezuela, got 1.7 points (5 thousand votes).

At the end of this edition, several videos of hundreds of people and opposition militants celebrating Garrido’s victory were already published on social networks.

Moments before the official results were known, Arreaza acknowledged his defeat on Twitter: Barinas dear. The information we receive from our structures of the PSUV (United Socialist Party of Venezuela) indicates that, although we increased the vote, we have not achieved the objective.

The CNE highlighted that the day was carried out in a peaceful manner and with a good influx of about 607 thousand of the 870 thousand inhabitants of the state. Military supported by security elements closed several polling stations shortly after 6 p.m. local time after a 12-hour shift.

In the November elections, the ruling party won 19 of the 23 governorships, although its vote fell to 3.9 million, according to CNE figures, compared to the 5.9 million votes it obtained in the regional elections of 2017, generating alarm signals in the ranks of Chavismo.

Arreaza tried to maintain the hegemony that Chavismo had held since 1998 in this agricultural region, while Garrido tried to emulate the victory of the opposition reached on November 21 by the original candidate Freddy Superlano, who was disqualified by judicial investigations.

This land has welcomed me like a son, Arreaza celebrated after voting in Ciudad Tavacare, a popular housing complex built by the ruling party and full of murals alluding to Chávez, president between 1999 and 2013.

Garridó assured after casting his vote: we will have the same result in 2021, but with much more force and denounced the arrest of two partisan activists in the town of Barrancas.

Barinas has been under the government of Chávez’s relatives for more than 20 years: it began with his father, Hugo de los Reyes (1998-2008), and continued with his brothers Adán (2008-2016) and Argenis (2017-2021), who aspired to be re-elected, but resigned after the Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ), on the pro-government line, ordered a repeat of the elections when Superlano led the counts of the first contest.

The court alleged on December 29 that Superlano, who had 37.6 percent of the votes compared to 37.2 for Argenis, was disqualified by judicial investigations because a list of parliamentarians was suspended for their participation in the attempted coup in 2019.

The MUD alleged that on August 31, Maduro granted his candidate a presidential pardon, along with more than 100 people, to be able to contest, but that argument was rejected by the Superior Court of Justice. As a result of the results, the PSUV appointed Arreaza, who was married to one of Chávez’s daughters, as its standard bearer.