Caracas, 19 November, 2008—In a press conference yesterday, Interior and Justice Minister Tarek el Aissami announced that all police will be on stand-by in their precincts from Saturday the 22nd and that the sale of alcohol will be prohibited from 2 pm on Friday the 21st until 2 pm on Monday the 24th of November in preparation for local and regional elections on Sunday.
Aissami noted that in Venezuela there are 121,506 police functionaries organized in 123 bodies. This call to the barracks will not impact services, Aissami assured, but will make the police better prepared to respond to crises that might emerge around the elections for mayors, governors and city council members on the 23rd of this month.
Aissami also announced that police will be allowed to vote, and vote in uniform, but will not be able to do so while armed.
The measures announced yesterday by Aissami are in line with the ‘Plan Republica,’ which coordinates the actions of municipal police and the military to maintain peace on election day. Recent turmoil in the aftermath of elections in Bolivia and Nicaragua as well as the violent history of the domestic opposition here in Venezuela has been the cause of much concern amongst government supporters throughout the course of the campaign.
In other public order related election news, Minister of Defense, General Gustavo Rangel Briceño reiterated that the military has not been politicized and that “there has been no campaign in the barracks.” Briceño continued, “the functions of the National Armed Force (FAN, for its initials in Spanish) are restricted to three specific areas. First is the security and care of electoral spaces, persons, authorities and materials; the second is the transport of ballots to the places where they will be analyzed; and certainly, public order is the most important job.”
Briceño also noted that the FAN has begun the process of transforming schools throughout Venezuela into voting sites. “On Wednesday we will begin taking over schools in order to set up the antennas that will broadcast the results; we hope to begin the installation of voting booths on Friday; Saturday will be dedicated to final revisions and inspections and on Sunday from 5 am on we will be waiting for the poll workers to open the vote.”
“Venezuela Ready for first Completely Automated Election.” http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/news/3959
“Plan República will Guarantee Security and Order during the Elections”
(This post includes translations from two stories in today's Últimas Noticias: "Cero caña y armas desde el viernes 21 a las 2pm" by Eligio Rojas; and "'El Ejército no hace campaña en los cuarteles'" by Lexander Loaiza)