Costa Rica’s Supreme Elections Tribunal (TSE) announced Tuesday that security concerns in Venezuela motivated their decision to close a polling station at the Costa Rican Consulate in Caracas. Ticos registered in Venezuela can instead cast their ballot for the presidential runoff on April 6 in Bogotá, Colombia.
Paola Alvarado, the TSE official in charge of the expat vote abroad, told The Tico Times that continued unrest in the capital, especially in the Altamira neighborhood where opposition protesters for weeks have held demonstrations near the Costa Rican Consulate, led officials there to conclude it was unsafe for voters to travel there.
The official added that the TSE had more staff and resources in Bogotá, including an official representative along with lawyers from the Citizen Action Party (PAC) and the National Liberation Party (PLN), and election volunteers. Many of the election volunteers in the Caracas office who worked the first-round vote on Feb. 2 have since left the country because of the flare of violence, she added.
Alvarado said that 162 Costa Ricans are registered to vote in Venezuela, but only 33 cast ballots in the first round. This year was the first time Ticos had the opportunity to vote abroad.
Since Feb. 4, 29 people have been killed and another 400 injured in clashes between members of the opposition and government supporters in Venezuela.
Costa Ricans will head to the polls April 6 to choose either PAC candidate Luis Guillermo Solís or PLN’s Johnny Araya as their next president. On March 5, Araya announced that he was dropping out of the race and would no longer campaign, but legally his name cannot be removed from the ballot, and PLN activists have continued the campaign despite his statements.
AFP contributed to this report