Thousands of Venezuelans voted this Sunday in the opposition primaries in the hope of a change of president in 2024, a long race that citizens opposed to chavismo took on with enthusiasm, with the purpose of voting. Liberal María Corina Machado, a pariah of the Venezuelan opposition for the past decade, is now emerging as a strong favorite.
One of the day's voters was Hernán Lugo, a 70-year-old university professor who said he was surprised by the large turnout, for which he had to wait in line for an hour, three times the time he says it always takes him to go to the polls.
Experts estimate that around 1.5 million people have so far taken part in the internal elections, which were organised by the opposition itself after it ruled out technical assistance from the National Electoral Council (CNE) following months of prevarication on the part of this authority, which finally proposed at the last minute to postpone the process for a month in order to manage it.
”The system is fast, faster than the others, what happens is that now there are more people, people who are anxious, who feel they want to get out of this man (President Nicolás Maduro), out of the system we have, Lugo told EFE after casting his ballot in eastern Caracas.
The teacher, who says he has been injured during anti-government protests in previous years, is convinced that Venezuela, under the power of chavismo since 1999, will achieve political change in 2024 because this government can't take any more and its representatives know they are finished.
In addition, Lugo considers that the disqualifications issued by the Comptroller General's Office against several opponents, including Machado, are a measure outside the norm that seeks to take out of the game those who dispute the power of the head of state.
Nothing else is done by dictators when they get people who they know are above them, who they know they are going to beat them, he said, according to EFE.
In a similar vein, 57-year-old Elizabeth Uribe defends the candidacy of Machado, who will not be able to register for the presidential elections unless her disqualification is lifted, as she believes that citizens, not institutions, should be able to choose their candidates.
It is we, the Venezuelans, who have to choose the president, stressed the woman, who voted in the west of the Venezuelan capital, in a public place that Chavismo considers its territory and where thousands of people turned out today to act against it.
He also said the country needs a change that will bring freedom for Venezuelans”.
Although she did not participate in the 2018 presidential election, in which Maduro was re-elected with the lowest turnout ever in such elections, she is determined to support whoever is elected today in the second half of 2024.
The primaries, a self-managed process without the help of the electoral body, have made use of thousands of people who, as volunteers, are working at the polling stations and helping Venezuelans to locate the authorised points, as they do not have the usual centres.