People of Simon Planas Protest Swearing-In of PSUV Mayoral Candidate

Residents of Simon Planas say the rightful winner of Sunday’s mayoral elections is commune leader Angel Prado.

By Rachael Boothroyd Rojas
Short URL

Bogota, December 12 2017 ( - Hundreds of residents from the Simon Planas municipality mobilized outside the National Electoral Council (CNE) headquarters in Lara this Tuesday, to protest the swearing-in of United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) candidate, Jean Ortiz, as mayor. 

Voters in the municipality say that the rightful winner of Sunday’s mayoral elections is popular grassroots leader Angel Prado, a spokesperson for the El Maizal commune.

Prado was elected as a delegate to the National Constituent Assembly (ANC)  in July with over 80% of his community’s votes, and had also launched a bid for mayor in Sunday’s elections. Nonetheless his campaign was officially blocked by the ANC ahead of the elections, which refused its permission for Prado to stand in spite of mass support. At least 9000 residents signed a petition demanding his candidacy to be allowed, while ten surrounding communes also backed his campaign.

Pro-Prado demonstrators chant "thieves" outside of the swearing-in ceremony.

But Prado and his supporters defied the ANC’s decision and on Sunday called for municipal residents to vote en masse for the party fielding his ticket, the Homeland For All Party (PTT).

The PPT garnered 57.92% of votes cast, trouncing the candidate of the PSUV Jean Ortiz. Nonetheless, the CNE assigned the votes to the PSUV nominee, citing the ANC’s ban on Prado's candidacy.  Ortiz had originally appeared on the PPT's ticket before being officially replaced by Prado on November 11. 

“The incensed people ask for justice and the answer is militarization and repression of the people's voice,” tweeted El Maizal commune, who have condemned the presence of the National Guard to police the protest.

Meanwhile, official representatives of the government have ignored the protest. PSUV Governor for Lara, Carmen Melendez, tweeted several times from inside the swearing-in ceremony congratulating Ortiz.

Tweet reads: "In this swearing-in act for the new mayor of Simon Planas, Jean Ortiz, all of our support to this responsible and patriotic young man! United for Chavez"

Though both the government and CNE have so far refused to respond to the controversy, several prominent members of the Chavista movement have voiced their support for the commune leader, including former Vice-President Elias Jaua, and ex-Minister for Justice Jesse Chacon. A petition backing Prado has also been circulated and includes signatories such as former Communes Minister, Reinaldo Iturriza and dozens of other prominent social movement leaders and organizations.

Prado’s supporters have pledged to continue mobilizing against the ANC's decision and to fight for the recognition of his right to the mayorship.

Readers can watch an exclusive VA interview with Angel Prado carried out last week in the video below.