Jesús Rodríguez Espinoza
Caracas, January 9, 2021 —The re-election for the governorship of Barinas state was held peacefully this Sunday, January 9, in all the12 municipalities (Arismendi, Barinas, Bolívar, Ezequiel Zamora, Bishops, Pedraza, Rojas, Sosa, Alberto Arvelo Torrealba, Antonio José de Sucre, Cruz Paredes, and Andrés Eloy Blanco) of the state, with 961 polling stations at 543 voting centers throughout the state.
Although official results are yet to be announced, former foreign affairs minister and PSUV candidate for governor in the state, Jorge Arreaza, posted a tweet conceding his defeat.
“Dear Barinas,” wrote Arreaza on Twitter. “The information that we are receiving from our PSUV structures indicates that, although our votes increased, we have not been able to achieve our goal. I thank our heroic members from my heart. We will continue to protect the people of Barinas from wherever we are.”
Barinas querida. La información que recibimos de nuestras estructuras del PSUV, indican que, aunque aumentamos en votación, no hemos logrado el objetivo. Agradezco de corazón a nuestra heroica militancia. Seguiremos protegiendo al pueblo barinés desde todos los espacios.
— Jorge Arreaza M (@jaarreaza) January 10, 2022
The National Electoral Council (CNE) installed 543 voting centers so that the 607,646 registered voters could exercise their right to vote. Likewise, 30 political parties had witnesses in the national and regional boards, at the voting centers, as well as at the national counting center and the national support center.
In the re-election, five candidates competed for the governorship: Jorge Arreaza (PSUV), Claudio Fermín (SPV), Sergio Garrido (MUD), Adolfo Superlano (MinUnidad) and Jesús Linares (MovRep).
Freddy Superlano, the opposition (MUD) candidate in the November 21 election, was disqualified after the election was complete, in a very controversial ruling by Venezuela’s Supreme Court (TSJ), citing an alleged pre-existing prohibition against him regarding running for public office. Said prohibition was announced after he had registered as candidate and ran for governor. However, at that time, no rejection was flagged by the CNE that uses automated systems connected with the Comptroller’s Office, the agency in charge of issuing such bans when a public official has committed an administrative misconduct. In the same TSJ ruling, Freddy Superlano was recognized as the winner of that election, and a re-election was called.
Barinas politician Sergio Garrido of Democratic Action (AD) party, running on the MUD platform, seems to be the new elected governor in Barinas state, according to a Twitter post by his party. Garrido was postulated as candidate after Freddy Superlano’s wife was also banned for running as candidate in another controversial decision.
Desde hoy Venezuela entera dirá: ¡SEGUID EL EJEMPLO QUE BARINAS DIÓ!🏴🇻🇪 https://t.co/LB2ZbpPT5Q
— Secretaría de Organización Nacional AD (@organizacionAD) January 10, 2022
Many mainstream as well as Chavista news outlets consider Barinas state as a symbol of pride for Chavismo because it is the home state of Hugo Chávez and his family. It is a fact that Chávez family members have run the state as governor or mayors for several years.
However, there are analysts who consider that the Chávez family management was not always well regarded by the Chavista base in Barinas, as can be seen by an analysis of electoral results for governor and mayors in that state over the past years. This might explain the abrupt resignation of Argenis Chávez, the incumbent candidate and brother of Hugo Chávez, announced just a few days after the re-election ruling was announced by the TSJ.
Until official results from the CNE are available, it is not possible to measure the impact of another relevant opposition candidate in the race, Claudio Fermin (SPV); how his presence affected Garrido and Arreaza. Whatever it may be, many analysts see this result as an strengthening of the democratic institutions of Venezuela, as another evidence of the strength of the Venezuelan democracy, despite the adverse result for the PSUV.
Featured image: PSUV candidate for governor in Barinas state, Jorge Arreaza, who conceded defeat shortly before midnight of Sunday. File photo.
Special for Orinoco Tribune by Jesús Rodríguez Espinoza
Jesús Rodríguez-Espinoza is an expert in international relations, Venezuelan politics and communication. He served for several years as Consul General of Venezuela in Chicago (United States) and prior to that he was part of the foundational editorial team of the website Aporrea.org. He is the founder and editor of the Venezuelan progressive website Orinoco Tribune.