'Red points' spark contention in vote

After voting in the election on Sunday, people come to register there in the hope of receiving prizes promised by the President Nicolas Maduro, who is seeking a new mandate despite an economic crisis.

These so-called "red points" situated close to polling stations are at the heart of controversy in the election, with Maduro's opponents, Henri Falcon and Javier Bertucci, accusing the ruling party of using them to manipulate the vote.

"In the red points they were engaging in shameless vote manipulation," said Bertucci.

Maduro promised "a really good prize" for those who would vote and who possess a 'Carnet de la Patria', or electronic identity card needed to access social food handouts or receive government coupons.

But the head of the electoral commission, Tibisay Lucena, on Saturday denied there would be any prizes for voting, and ruled that the "red points" must be at least 200 meters (yards) from polling stations.

"I am looking for rewards, everyone wants to win prizes," said Maximino Ramos at another "red point" in Petare, just 50 meters from a polling center.

The main opposition coalition, which boycotted the election, has accused the government of using the electronic cards, a system set up under Maduro, as a means of social coercion.

Some 16 million people use the cards, but they are not required for voting.

Under the faded red canopy in the strongly pro-Maduro favela of Petare, Magalis Torres encourages her neighbors to scan the code on the cards.

"I am a Chavista one hundred percent, whether there is food or not I am a Chavista," said the 51-year-old woman who got up early to organize voting in her neighborhood and set up the "red point".

'Economic war'

Like Magalis, other local community leaders appeal to voters.

"To scan your cards, you have to have voted!" said one woman at another red point in Petare.

Feliciano Tovar, 62, said that no one forced him to come to a "red point."

"I came voluntarily," he said. By voting he hopes that "the country will emerge" from a "critical" situation that forced one of his three daughters to emigrate.

"The two others want to leave also, I will be all alone," he said.

Luis Rojas, a 66-year-old pensioner who receives government coupons, said he agrees with Maduro, who said the crisis is due to "an economic war" being staged by a group of countries.

Manuel Rodríguez, a 67-year-old lawyer, came out to vote and then went immediately to a "red point."

He believes that the opposition boycotted the elections because all its leaders want to be president.

"In the opposition, personal desires weighed more than a real desire to get Maduro out and that's what the people see."

JOIN OUR PULSE COMMUNITY!

Unblock notifications in browser settings.

Eyewitness? Submit your stories now via social or:

Email: eyewitness@pulse.ng

Recommended articles

Mama Boko Haram, co-defendants bag jail terms for N66m fraud

Mama Boko Haram, co-defendants bag jail terms for N66m fraud

Lagos Govt tackles Peter Obi over false claim about ASUU strike

Lagos Govt tackles Peter Obi over false claim about ASUU strike

I wish I had 12 children - Adeboye

I wish I had 12 children - Adeboye

Lagos govt reintroduces history in schools' curriculum

Lagos govt reintroduces history in schools' curriculum

Obi is a tribal bigot, we can't vote for him - Miyetti Allah

Obi is a tribal bigot, we can't vote for him - Miyetti Allah

I will bring massive change to Osun in 100 days - Adeleke vows

I will bring massive change to Osun in 100 days - Adeleke vows

2023: We must shift away from politics of bread and butter - Jonathan

2023: We must shift away from politics of bread and butter - Jonathan

Only improved power supply can transform Nigeria's economy - Peter Obi

Only improved power supply can transform Nigeria's economy - Peter Obi

Police restore normalcy in Kwara after deadly clash between OPC, cow dealers

Police restore normalcy in Kwara after deadly clash between OPC, cow dealers