Spain's former Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero – among the international monitors of Venezuela's May 20 presidential elections – has celebrated the rigors of the nation's electoral system and denied that Venezuelans are being blackmailed to vote.
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Zapatero told a press conference on Friday that he respects members of the opposition who have decided to boycott the democratic process, "but now the people of Venezuela must speak; it is good for Venezuelans to express themselves."
Referring to previous elections he has monitored in Venezuela, Zapatero said: "I saw how people voted freely. No one has to tell me about it; I have no doubt that it will be the same this Sunday."
The former prime minister also said international commissions have arrived in Venezuela to accompany the electoral process and not to interfere.
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"Venezuela doesn't need prosecutors or oversight, but constructive accompaniment," he said in a reference to governments around the world which have joined the United States in trying to stop the Venezuelan people from voting.
Ecuador's former President Rafael Correa is also in Venezuela to monitor the elections, having landed late Friday. Posting on Twitter, he said: "I feel your light and your scent on my skin, and the four in my heart. Glory to the brave people!"
Part of the Venezuelan opposition has decided to boycott the elections, claiming the National Electoral Council (CNE) is guilty of electoral fraud. The campaign was launched despite the fact the CNE has recognized opposition victories in the past.
Confirmation of international observers hasn't deterred the opposition in its calls for Venezuelans to abstain from voting.
Zapatero, who has promoted dialogue between the Venezuelan opposition and the government, also said observers hope that voting will be "participative, with all the guarantees and where candidates exercise their role as guarantors: peaceful and constructive."
Over 20 million Venezuelans are called to vote for the country's next president and renew representatives in the legislative councils.