The cabildoadministrative council originates in the non-peninsular territories of colonial Spain. Initially conceived as a sort of municipal corporation established in the Canary Islands and then in the Philippines and in the Spanish West Indies. The cabildowas modelled on the Spanish medieval councils. Thecabildohave always been deliberation and decision-making assemblies, initially conceived as mechanisms for the representation of local elites faced with royal bureaucracy, granted a certain degree of self-sufficiency in the light of geographic distances. On April 19 1910, thanks to an open cabildo– that the Libertador Simon Bolivar could not attend as he had been sent by Emparan to his property in Yare – Venezuela made its first decisive step towards freedom, a step that was to be confirmed with the signing of the Act of Independence on July 5ththe following year, in a Hall of today’s Central University of Venezuela, the veritable Altar of the Fatherland.
Cabildosare defined in two Articles of our Constitution, art. 70 and 348. Article 70 states: “Participation and involvement of people in the exercise of their sovereignty in political affairs: voting to fill public offices, referendum, consultation of public opinion, mandate revocation, legislative, constitutional and constituent initiative, open forums and meetings of citizens whose decisions shall be binding among others; and in social and economic affairs: citizen service organs, self-management, co-management, cooperatives in all forms, including those of a financial nature, savings funds, community enterprises, and other forms of association guided by the values of mutual cooperation and solidarity. […]The law shall establish conditions for the effective, functioning of the means of participation provided for under the present article.”
As provided for in this Article, the national Assembly elected by over 16 million citizens in 2015 convened an open assembly, referred to as an open cabildo, past January 23rd, but it was not like all others…
It was convened at the same time in many cities across the country that recognized its open, extraordinary and national features, as opposed to the void of unbalanced military deployment in Plaza O’Leary. The mass protests of citizens who took to the streets in cities nationwide legitimized the President of the National Assembly, MP Juan Guaidó, as interim President of Venezuela until free and transparent presidential elections were guaranteed. Just as the inhabitants of Caracas said NO to Emparam, the Spanish Governor, in 1810, with the largest open cabildoin the history of the Country the Venezuelan people said NO to Maduro, without failing to acknowledge that the same claim has been made in many world cities.
Since then the course of events followed the direction indicated by the National Assembly, with envisaged elections that must comply with a set of conditions.
The first condition is that Maduro must declare that he will “ step down” – unlikely but not impossible, whence would ensue the release of political prisoners, the rehabilitation of politicians prevented from serving in office; the renewal of the board of the body responsible for administering the electoral process, with impartial judges and experts in this field.
A set of actions summarized in the following ten points would naturally follow:
1. Renewal of the permanent electoral Register;
2. Opening of polling stations in all Countries where Venezuelans live with the creation of voting machines in places where polling stations cannot be set up;
3. Creating a timeframe enabling the registration of new voters and to communicate change of residence;
4. Reviewing the IT system with high-level experts and international observers to prevent rigged votes;
5. Ensuring transparent procedures for the appointment of the members of the electoral college charged with guaranteeing valid elections;
6. Revision of the nomination system, ensuring that all candidates deliver birth certificates;
7. Revision of political parties’ funding system;
8. Invitation to international observers;
9. Ensuring effective mechanisms for prior, concurrent and subsequent hearings and consultations;
10. Holding elections.
(*) Professor, Central University of Venezuela – Caracas