Venezuela: A farcical re-election for Maduro
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has once again triumphed in a “totally credible and convincing election,” said Jesús Silva in Venezuela’s Apporea.org. Maduro secured a second six-year term by winning 6 million votes in this week’s election, more than double the combined haul of his two rivals, Henri Falcón and Javier Bertucci. Such a “gigantic lead” for our Socialist president “consolidates the absolute credibility of the result.” Now the challenge for the Bolivarian Revolution begun by former President Hugo Chávez is to counter the “aggression of U.S. imperialism.” America’s crippling economic blockade and financial manipulations have hurt the Venezuelan people, causing hyperinflation and food shortages. Only Maduro can lead us to victory.
Our dictatorial regime is contorting itself trying to portray the vote as legitimate, said Carmen Victoria Inojosa in Crónica Uno (Venezuela). In fact, Venezuelans rejected the farce by boycotting the election en masse. Most elections here—including the 2013 vote that confirmed Maduro as heir to Chávez—get a huge turnout of about 80 percent of registered voters. Election officials claim the turnout in the latest vote was 45 percent, but observers say it barely topped 20 percent. Polling stations, usually crowded, were “empty and silent” all day, as poll workers “struggled to stay awake.” Some Venezuelans stayed away out of apathy, believing that their votes would have no effect on the nation’s seemingly unstoppable descent into authoritarianism and economic ruin. Many other voters remained at home to honor a boycott called by the leading opposition parties, which were barred from fielding candidates.
The opposition boycott succeeded despite Maduro’s efforts to bully and bribe voters, said La Nación (Argentina) in an editorial. In what sounded like a threat, the president had announced, “I call all Venezuelans, all Venezuelans: Your vote decides—votes or bullets, homeland or colony, peace or violence, independence or subordination.” For those who did cast ballots, there were perks. The ruling Socialist Party set up booths near the voting stations where Venezuelans could have their food ration cards scanned to be entered into a raffle with food and cash prizes. Foreign governments, though, were not fooled. The U.S., the European Union, and the Organization of American States all “consider the vote illegitimate” and have refused to recognize the result. At least 14 nations, including Canada, Argentina, and Brazil, said they would recall their ambassadors from Venezuela to protest Maduro’s fraudulent re-election.
While Maduro is the pretend winner, the undisputed loser is the Venezuelan people, said Jesús Mesa in El Espectador (Colombia). Maduro is now expected to push through his new constitution, which will provide for his “unlimited re-election” and cement state control over private property. That will exacerbate the already catastrophic shortages of food and medicine and push the 18,000 percent inflation rate even higher. More than 850,000 Venezuelans have fled to Colombia and Brazil over the past few years, and many more will surely follow in their footsteps. “The economic and social situation is going to get worse,” says Venezuelan opposition lawmaker William Dávila. “Nothing will improve.” ■