Today, a broad and growing civil society coalition in Venezuela took a major step forward in a campaign for free and fair elections. The group of Venezuelan organizations announced a list of 15 individuals to be candidates for rectors of the National Electoral Council (CNE), the authority that oversees elections in the country. Under the constitution, the CNE is elected by the National Assembly and its five rectors serve seven-year terms.

The list of 15 candidates was announced by the Foro Civico (Civic Forum), a growing coalition of Venezuelan human rights NGOs, academics, faith groups, business leaders, labor unions, and other independent civil society organizations. As the coalition made clear in a February 5 declaration, Foro Civico does not seek to replace Venezuelan political actors in the opposition or the Maduro government, but instead envisions its role as vital to pressuring political elites to seek a peaceful, democratic solution. Its objective is a “National Democratic Agreement” that can lead to a return to democracy.

The Foro Civico’s 15 candidates for CNE include some of the most-respected electoral experts in the country. The list includes opposition electoral strategist and former prisoner of conscience Roberto Picón, Luis Lander of the Observatorio Electoral Venezolano, Griselda Colina, member of the Global Observatory of Communication and Democracy Griselda Colina, and elections journalist Eugenio Martinez

The final makeup will be selected by the National Assembly selected in December’s widely-questioned vote, and lawmakers in the PSUV-dominated legislature say they expect a vote by April. However, various reports have indicated that quiet talks about the makeup of the new CNE are ongoing. Today’s announcement is a clear effort by civil society to try to get momentum going for negotiations that can lead to a more credible electoral authority.

Read the English-language version of today’s Foro Civico statement here, and the Spanish version is available here.

The full list of CNE candidates is:

  1. Luis Lander, miembro del Observatorio Electoral Venezolano, postulated by ROAE. (Red de Observación Electoral de Asamblea de Educación). 
  2. Francisco Martínez, ex Presidente de Fedecámaras, postulated by SINERGIA. 
  3. Robinson Rivas, Director de la escuela de Computación de la UCV, postulated by OEV (Observatorio Electoral Venezolano). 
  4. David Delgado Iturriza, Académico de la ULA, facultad de ciencias políticas. Postulated by OEV (Observatorio Electoral Venezolano). 
  5. Griselda Colina, miembro del Observatorio global de comunicaciones y democracia. Postulated by Asosaber (Asociación Civil Saber es Poder). 
  6. Roberto Picón, Ingeniero de Sistemas, Asesor electoral. Postulated by la Red Sinergia. 
  7. León Arismendi, abogado, profesor en la cátedra de Derecho del Trabajo de la UCV. Director del Instituto Nacional de Altos Estudios Sindicales, Inaesin. Postulated by ROAE (Red de Observación Electoral de Asamblea de Educación). 
  8. Bernardo Méndez, ex vicerrector administrativo, Doctor en Química. Profesor en la Facultad de Ciencias UCV. By ROAE (Red de Observación Electoral de Asamblea de Educación).
  9. Céliz Mendoza, Ex consultor Jurídico del CNE. By Asosaber (Asociación Civil Saber es Poder). 
  10. Helen Aguiar, Presidente de la Red de Observadores Electorales de Venezuela, Postulado por OGCD (Observatorio Global de Comunicación y Democracia). 
  11. Noel Mavárez, Funcionario del CNE. Postulated by OGCD (Observatorio Global de Comunicación y Democracia). 
  12. Carmen González, Abogada jubilada del CNE y especialista en temas de género, directora de Asosaber. Postulated by OGCD (Observatorio Global de Comunicación y Democracia). 
  13. Tulio Ramírez, Profesor Titular de la UCV, Director del Doctorado y Postdoctorado en Educación UCAB. Postulated by CEPAZ (Centro de Justicia y Paz). 
  14. Williams Fernández, Ingeniero Civil / Abogado Profesor de Derecho UCV especialización en materia electoral, Registro Civil y Electoral. Jubilado del CNE. Postulated by Cepaz (Centro de Justicia y Paz). 
  15. Eugenio Martínez, periodista especializado en temas políticos y electorales, postulated by Asosaber (Asociación Civil Saber es Poder).