The pandemic, the threat that runs through Venezuela during the electoral campaign

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Massive acts without distancing, candidates without masks and hugs with potential voters. The December legislative race makes us forget the measures against the coronavirus.

A stadium full of crowded people shown on national television has taken a turn in the dynamics of Venezuela, where until recently those who gathered to celebrate were imprisoned. Now the party is electoral and nobody worries about the pandemic, since it seeks to capture votes for the December legislatures at any cost.

With less or greater influx of public, with more whistles or fewer confetti, they have registered numerous acts similar events across the country since November 3, when the political campaign formally began for the December 6 legislative elections. And the candidates forgot the risks of contagion from covid-19.

In these agglomerations, the distance between people is zero, the contact is permanent and the use of chinstraps remains the last option of protection only for a part of the participants, since many of the candidates or supporters go on campaign with their faces uncovered.

Neither the government bans for public meetings nor the calls for attention by the National Electoral Council (CNE) have managed to contain these activities that will last until December 3 and that could trigger coronavirus cases in a country that claims to have an excellent handling of the pandemic, although the opposition questions the official data and assures that the number of cases could even double that of the Chavista government.

Of the more than 14,000 would-be legislators, dozens have taken to the streets to win over voters who feel very little attracted by these elections called by the government of Nicolás Maduro, in which the bulk of the opposition will not participate and will not they will be recognized by the European Union or by the Organization of American States (OAS).

Even so, the candidates tour neighborhoods, give speeches from platforms, lead street assemblies, walk along sidewalks and encourage everyone who crosses their paths to participate on December 6 and, preferably, to support them to get one of the 277 seats. in dispute.

At each of these events, politicians wave to voters, shake hugs, exchange kisses, or hand out things, sometimes food, without the slightest protection or, in the best of cases, with one of the interlocutors protected by a mask.

At least publicly, Venezuelans immersed in the campaign they have disrespected biosafety regulations that were strictly enforced in the first months of the pandemic and that helped the country to register one of the lowest balances, with about 96,000 infected and 840 deaths to date, according to the official figure.

“I am concerned about political campaigns (…) be careful not to neglect sanitary measures,” said the Venezuelan president on Sunday, who criticized that proselytizing acts had been held with up to “300 people on stage” when it had been agreed, he said. that distancing would be respected.

The president’s complaint does not mention the human agglutination organized by his party, the ruling PSUV, in Maracaibo, nor the other dozens of official activities in which thousands of citizens have run the risk of contracting covid-19 in all the country.

The only one reprimanded, according to Maduro, has been his wife, Cilia Flores, a candidate for deputy, who participated in one of these acts in Caracas and was criticized by the president himself. “When she got home, I scolded her,” she said.

Meanwhile, the rest of the candidates for the National Assembly (Parliament) violate current health regulations with impunity and even organize rallies in the vicinity of the CNE, an electoral referee that the opposition accuses of being biased and that the ruling party itself ignores with each public rally.

For its part, the majority opposition that will not participate in the elections because they consider them fraudulent has undertaken a series of public assemblies to promote a parallel consultation that, without being binding, seeks to measure the rejection of citizens of the Maduro Executive and the legislative ones in question.

The opposition leader Juan Guaidó, recognized as interim president of Venezuela by some 50 countries, leads these activities in Caracas, which have been replicated in other cities in the interior, to try to mobilize the largest number of people to this process that will be held between the December 5 and 12.

Guaidó, current head of the Chamber, also broke with the personal example of social distancing and now walks the Venezuelan capital while greeting and hugging, sometimes with a chinstrap and other times without wearing it.

After months calling for confinement and extreme biosecurity measures to contain the pandemic, the state channel VTV has dedicated itself in the last two weeks to broadcasting campaign events, which show crowded citizens, with the incessant invitation to join the “electoral party.”

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