Most of the voting machines in Venezuela’s automated electoral system were burned in a “raging fire” that affected an installation of the country’s electoral body, the main rector Tibisay Lucena reported on Sunday.
“They burned in that ravenous fire … 49,408 voting machines, 400 electronic ballots, 22,434 current inverters, 127,000 membranes, that is (electronic) ballots, 49,323 integrated authentication systems, that is, the captahuellas,” said the President of the National Electoral Council (CNE) in an appearance before the press in which she did not accept questions.
The fire occurred on Saturday in the CNE sheds in Filas de Mariche, a territory that is part of the depressed neighborhood of Petare, which houses one of the largest favelas in Latin America.
“LITTLE YOU CAN RESCUE”
Lucena said the fire spread rapidly and that in half an hour it was already in the 6,000 square meters of the facility, despite the fact that almost 60 people, including firefighters, police and CNE workers, were fighting the flames.
“In less than 30 minutes the fire was in practically the entire shed, surprising the way it spread, the voracity of that fire,” he insisted.
He also said that “there was little that could be rescued”: 562 voting machines, 724 captahuellas and 24 servers.
“The effort was great, but the fire was even greater,” he explained.
THE ARMED GROUP AWARDS THE EVENT
The Prosecutor’s Office appointed two people to direct the investigations, but according to Lucena they will only visit the site of the event on Monday, more than 24 hours after the fire.
He also said he was “waiting to know” if the fire was caused by “a criminal act”, although yesterday it appeared that it could be caused after sabotage.
Precisely today, an alleged armed group that identified itself as the Venezuelan Patriot Front assumed responsibility for the event in a video released on social networks.
The authorities have not yet ruled on this material.
The president of the Venezuelan electoral body said, in addition, that the CNE has “the ability and human talent” to overcome “any adversity” and guaranteed that the elections planned for this year, when the Parliament will be renewed – which controls the opposition- , will be done on time.
FIGHT TO RENEW THE CNE
Lucena is one of the five principal rectors of the CNE, an entity that the opposition accuses of favoring President Nicolás Maduro, in power since 2013, and the government party, the PSUV.
The opposition, led by Juan Guaidó, whom almost 60 countries recognize as the interim president of Venezuela, has said that he will renew the organ from Parliament, the power empowered by the Constitution to do so.
But a negotiating table between the Government of Maduro and minority opposition parties, as well as a dissent of the opposition, which claims to control the Parliament, simultaneously initiated two mechanisms to renew the CNE.