In the Aftermath of the Elections

Geraldina Colotti

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Maduro outflanks the opposition

Translated by: Alessandra Perugini

The media strategy with respect to Bolivarian Venezuela has always been the same: blast out a narrow selection of one-sided information to build a particular matrix of opinions. If that version of events is contradicted or contested, it nevertheless continues to be circulated, and official outlets maintain absolute silence regarding alternative narratives. This was also the case in the regional elections of October 15th, which handed Chavismo—the ruling PSUV and its allies—victory in 18 out of 23 states (the 24th, the Capital District, has a special status and did not participate in the vote).

When the CNE, the electoral body, announced the results, Federica Mogherini—High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy—was said to be "astonished". For months a wide range of polls indicated the vote would prove to be a "plebiscite" by the opposition against Maduro, with a high abstention rate. Instead, out of a population of 31.5 million inhabitants—of which some 18 million have voting rights—61.7% voted. This marked a 7.2% increase in voter turnout from 2012, when Hugo Chávez was still alive.

The participation rate is even higher than voter participation in recent regional elections in Mexico (53.70%) and in Colombia (60.28%). In 18 years of government, Chavismo has organized 22 elections and has lost 2. This is a lesson in democracy. Despite the alarmism about Maduro's "dictatorial turn", the Asamblea Nacional Constituyente (the Constituent National Assembly, or ANC)—elected by more than 8 million citizens—has brought peace back to the country and, since August, has worked full time to face the serious problems of the country, subject to an economic war exacerbated by Trump's financial-economic sanctions.

But it is not a democracy in subaltern relation to the great powers, and for this reason cannot please Washington and its allies, who now close ranks against Bolivarian Socialism. What credibility does Mexico have when voting there often entails risking one's life? And yet, in the Lima Group, Mexico is one of the neoliberal countries in Latin America that has not recognized the results of Venezuela's elections. What is the level of credibility of Manuel Santos, the president of Colombia, where you can be killed with impunity for having defended your land, your workplace or your right to information? And yet Santos was the first to refuse to recognize the results of the regional elections in Venezuela. What is the level of credibility of Luis Almagro, Secretary-General of the Organization of American States (OAS), who remains silent in the face of real human rights violations in Latin America while readily attacking Bolivarian Venezuela?

Yet, everyone wants to lecture others on democracy. While claiming the rules of the game are changing, they go hand-in-hand with their clients, the Venezuelan opposition, until they take government seats. In the Bolivarian country, regional elections are scheduled every 4 years. It would have happened last year had the opposition—with a majority in the parliament since 2015—not involved the CNE in a referendum to recall president Nicolas Maduro before completing his fixed term in 2018. Even in 2017, the Right tried to accomplish its plan—getting rid of Maduro—with 4 months of violence that resulted in 120 deaths. Many of the victims were burned alive by those that the mainstream Western media have presented as "peaceful protesters against the dictatorship".

The opposition alliance Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD) suddenly decided to take part in the regional elections, resulting in protests by the extremists. After discrediting the CNE and the Constitution, the MUD agreed to hold the vote with the same electoral system and the same "dictatorship". They kept their usual script in their back pocket: If defeated, they would declare vote rigging and flipped the table over. If victorious, they would have finally been able to put their hands on the resources of the country and cancel the achievements of the "Bolivarian Revolution" through internal subversion and international support.

The plan failed, with voters surrendering five states to the MUD: Zulia, Táchira, Mérida, Anzoátegui and Nueva Esparta. Three of these states—Mérida, Zulia and Táchira—border Colombia. And a request to secede is already circulating among the rich areas of the "crescent" where paramilitary infiltration is strong.

The MUD has won two more states than in the previous election, when it had only won in Amazonas, Miranda and Lara. And in these same states, they have now suffered a historic defeat. Miranda has the second-highest number of voters (more than 2 million). It is the state where the ex-candidate of the Primero Justicia party, the anti-chavista Henrique Capriles, has been disqualified for corruption. His place was taken by Carlos Ocariz, who recently set social media ablaze with his xenophobic attacks against "those sweaty blacks [who] smell terribly". The scandal erupted after the publication of a Whatsapp chat, obtained by opposition journalist Patricia Poleo. In Miranda, the young Héctor Rodríguez of the PSUV won with an overwhelming 52.54% of the vote.

Now the governors of the Acción Democrática party, which won in Táchira, Mérida, Anzoátegui and Nueva Esparta, have agreed to take their oath of office in front of the plenipotentiary body, the ANC. Capriles has left the coalition. The MUD has split. The opposition is at each other's throats.

The president of the parliament Julio Borges (of the Primero Justicia party) has fled abroad, decrying purported vote rigging, though no such accusations ever arrived before the CNE. There exists instead the signatures of the whole opposition approving the review of the electoral system, deeming there to be no risk of fraud. This, however, has curiously not been reported by the media.

A fifth governor, Juan Pablo Guanipa, triumphant in Zulia for Borges' party, has not agreed to take his oath in front of the ANC. "I do not kneel in front of the Cuban Constitution", said Guanipa. Obviously—retorts the Left—he is ready to kneel before Trump.