Patricia Gutierrez de Ceballos and Rosa Brandonisio—married to Daniel Ceballos and Vicencio Scarano, ousted mayors of San Cristobal and San Diego respectively—won landslide votes in Venezuela’s mayoral elections on Sunday to replace their husbands after both men had been arrested and jailed as part of the opposition protests. The women are both part of the Mesa de la Unidad Democrática (Democratic Unity Roundtable—MUD) opposition group.
Thirty-year-old Patricia Gutierrez de Ceballos, who has no previous political experience, won over 73 percent of the mayoral votes in San Cristobal this Sunday. In the midst of increasing protests in the city, her husband was arrested and sentenced to 12 months in jail under accusation of conspiracy and civil rebellion. In San Diego, Vicencio (Enzo) Scarano was sentenced to over 10 months in prison for refusal to remove protesters’ street barricades. His wife, Rosa Brandonisio, a former City Council member, won over 87 percent of the votes in Sunday’s election. Brandonisio has endorsed continued peaceful protesting in Venezuela as part of her campaign. “The people will remain peacefully in the streets, making people listen, so that it echoes throughout the world that Venezuela right now is going through a very difficult time, economically, socially, morally, and politically,” she said.
President Nicolás Maduro, however, gave ominous declarations during the voting on Sunday. “If elected mayors turn crazy, they will also be judged,” he said.
San Cristobal and San Diego have been among the most violent cities during the Venezuelan protests, with dozens of people killed in each location. Anti-government protests have been taking place since February 13 when student-organized protests flared up and turned violent in Caracas.