The High Representative for European Foreign Policy, Josep Borrell, has decided to risk making a concession to the Venezuelan dictatorship and has announced that it will send an electoral observation mission to the municipal elections that have been called for November 21. Borrell’s spokesmen clarified yesterday that “in no case has our policy on Venezuela changed” and that “observing the elections does not mean that we have modified our policy on Venezuela and our demands on this country.”
The European decision has been made officially at the request of the Venezuelan National Electoral Council, whose reform to make it an independent body of the executive power is one of the European requirements that has not yet been carried out, and also maintains among its leaders several personalities sanctioned by the EU. Officially in the summer, a technical mission was in Caracas that had to verify if there were minimum conditions for electoral observation, but its report has not been made public. European sources attribute this decision also to the progress in the negotiations between the regime and the opposition in Mexico, despite the fact that there has been no progress on essential issues and the representatives of the dictatorship maintain positions that are not very favorable to the agreement, such as insisting that Alex Saab, currently detained in Cape Verde and pending extradition to the United States, is a “plenipotentiary member” of the delegation.
The factor that has weighed the most, however, has been that a part of the opposition has decided to participate in these elections, so Borrell seems to hope that the mission could favor the entry of leaders not linked to the dictatorship in local institutions, to stimulate the opening of the regime. Other opposition leaders point out that at this point the electoral roll has not even been renewed to take into account that a not inconsiderable part of the voters have fled the country and will not be able to vote, but are still registered. The Venezuelan electoral law does not contemplate the figure of electoral observation.
The decision has also been taken in the absence of the support of the European Parliament, which is the institution that traditionally sends a delegation of MEPs to complement electoral observation missions. But Borrell has appointed the Portuguese Socialist MEP Isabel Santos as a manager.
One of the issues that figured in the first line of the European position defended by Borrell was that of favoring the arrival of humanitarian aid to the population, but the issue has completely disappeared.