Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro debuted a logo for his upcoming presidential campaign that violates the nation’s electoral laws, and he illegally used public television to promote himself this weekend in anticipation of a presidential election few believe will yield legitimate results.
Maduro announced a snap presidential election last week, to take place before April 30. The nation’s Supreme Court banned the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), the nation’s largest opposition coalition, from participating in the election, and most obvious opposition presidential candidates have been banned from public office, arrested or forced into exile.
On Sunday, Maduro debuted a music video for his new campaign theme song, “Everyone with Maduro,” through national broadcaster VTV. The song, which boasts a reggaeton beat, calls Maduro “the conductor of victories [who] will direct Venezuela towards peace and glory” and a “just and combative … working man.” The video features footage of Maduro dancing on state television, which he does frequently:
As the Venezuelan newspaper El Nacional notes, the campaign song – which was presented with no equal time for other candidates – violates Article 69 of the nation’s electoral legal code, which demands public broadcasters “observe a rigorous balance regarding time, space, and organization of information relative to activities developed by candidates.”
As Maduro’s regime has not confirmed an election date, no other candidates have surfaced to challenge him. Maduro has, nonetheless, activated campaign mode on his public television program and diverted the government’s attention strictly to his re-election.
On Friday, Maduro debuted the new logo for his campaign, which also violates election law:
En exclusiva, les adelanto el logo de campaña con el que junto al Pueblo venezolano llegaremos a la victoria y lanzaremos hoy en encuentro con jóvenes. Durante el evento mi equipo usará mi Twitter para que se enteren de todo en directo. #JuntosPodemosMás pic.twitter.com/WIE1AmZqb3
— Nicolás Maduro (@NicolasMaduro) January 26, 2018
The logo features the colors of the Venezuelan flag and one of its signature stars. This campaign material violates Article 63 of the electoral legal code, which reads, “Campaign propaganda will not be permitted if: it uses national or regional symbols of the nation or the image of the heroes of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, or the colors of the national flag or regional flags.”
Maduro called for a presidential election last week, granting the “national constituent assembly” (ANC) the power to decree when they would occur. The ANC is an illegitimate legislative body Maduro created extra-constitutionally to usurp the power of the National Assembly, the Venezuelan federal legislature. While the National Assembly, controlled by opposition groups, continues to govern in theory, Maduro routinely disregards its legislation and enforces ANC decisions.
Maduro argued on television last week that the election was necessary as an act of defiance against American President Donald Trump.
“Let’s get over with this, win the presidential poll and put an end to the imperialist threat,” he said. “Donald Trump is not the boss of Venezuela!”
Shortly after his announcement, the Venezuelan Supreme Court announced it would ban the MUD from participating. The court argued that the MUD was an unnecessary party given that it was a coalition of multiple parties and that it would allow the parties within the MUD the field their own candidates. Yet the Supreme Court also banned one of the nation’s largest opposition parties, Popular Will, from participating in the election. Popular Will is led by Leopoldo López, Venezuela’s most famous political prisoner.
The opposition has nominated former governor of Miranda, Henrique Capriles Radonski of the Justice First party, as its presidential candidate during the last two elections, both of whom faced accusations of fraud. Capriles lost his governorship during regional elections last year – again widely criticized for voting irregularities the government did not address – and has been banned from holding public office in Venezuela for 15 years for peaceful dissent against the regime.
It is unclear who the regime will allow to run against Maduro, the candidate for the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV). Some members of the Justice First party have begun urging Lorenzo Mendoza, the head of the Polar food conglomerate, to run for office. Polar has long been Maduro’s target for being one of the only surviving businesses in Venezuela. Mendoza has not expressed any interest in running, however.
El Nacional reports that many within the opposition are inclined to boycott the election, worried that the April 30 deadline will not leave any time for a legitimate primary contest within the opposition.
Despite the lack of candidates, Maduro’s campaign has already hit roadblocks. The dictator held his first-ever appearance on Facebook Live this weekend, a medium that critics used to bombard his page with insults and “Venezuela is hungry” comments. The video received more than 50,000 angry reactions, compared to just 10,000 “likes.”