Caracas, November 27, 2011.
The Venezuelan Constitution establishes that the only requisite to exercise the vote is the identity card and that is what Carlos Suarez, economist, spokesman of Voluntad Popular Internacional, demands, to comply with the national residents abroad.
The right to vote of Venezuelans living outside the country is in danger, warns Suárez, by article 124 of the Electoral Processes Law. The norm adds as a requisite for the suffrage the proof of legal residence (in the other country), a disposition that the economist qualifies as discriminatory, since "all the voters, here and there or wherever they are, must have the same treatment". For that reason, he trusts the good judgment of the Venezuelan Supreme Court that last Wednesday admitted a recourse for the revision of the controversial Law.
For Suarez, the requirement of legal residence is an element that adds to the persecution that is made to the group of 'Venezuelans abroad' whose only sin, he says, is to live outside the country. The concern has forced to denounce the case in governmental and judicial organisms in the planet.
- Until now in how many organisms and institutions of different countries have denounced the situation of the Venezuelan voters abroad?
We can speak of two denunciations, of two fronts that Voluntad Popular has opened in defense of the political rights of Venezuelans abroad. First, there is the complaint regarding the violation of the rights of political participation of Venezuelans when asking as a requirement to demonstrate that the voters are legally resident. This is a requirement to register and vote in the consulates and this clearly violates the Venezuelan Constitution and the international conventions that derive from this in the universal declaration of human rights. We responsibly presented before the Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ) this appeal for annulment and the precautionary measure of the LOPE that was admitted by the TSJ, which is a great achievement, one more step towards what we hope will be an act of vindication of the justice owed to Venezuelans abroad.
- What answers have you had with the allegations that the Venezuelan consular officials claimed responsibility for immigration agents, at least in the case of the US, and that violated the laws of the country?
That's what the consulates used to ask for immigration documents from the country where they are located, say Spain, the United States, Mexico, they violate international conventions and national laws that regulate the treatment of immigrants around the world. This aspect of the "double violation" that the consulates commit as conscious, responsible and militant agents of this demand of the CNE, we have denounced before the national prosecutors and some defense cases in several countries of the world including Mexico, Chile, Spain, and the United States. United. Of these, Chile has already stated that the migratory status that a Venezuelan citizen may have in Chile does not affect at all their possibilities of participating in the electoral processes of their country of origin.
- Do you trust that the Venezuelan justice agencies will rule in favor of the voters who live abroad once the TSJ admitted the appeal?
For principles and conviction we believe that the Supreme Court will do justice. We also believe in the strength of our cause and our argument and that is reflected in the admission of the appeal. Remember that not long ago the TSJ rejected an appeal on the matter. The fact that the Supreme Court has admitted our appeal is a sign of the strength of the argument we present.
- What is the point of making that proof of residence a requirement? How do you evaluate it?
It is a discrimination, it is one more proof of the political persecution that the Venezuelans live, in particular the Venezuelans abroad as a collective. This is precisely the argument of our appeal: requiring proof of legal residence for Venezuelan voters abroad is discriminatory. While in Venezuela the elector registers exclusively with his identity card and a good faith principle applies when he provides his residence information, Venezuelans abroad are not only required to prove residence, and this would be discriminatory in itself. which implies a different treatment with respect to the treatment of the elector in Venezuela. Beyond a voucher, legality is required in your immigration status. For us all this is a repugnant act that adds to the character of economic displaced, violence and political persecution against this collective whose only sin is to live abroad.
-What is plan B if the Supreme Court fails against its proposals?