Another day, another report of tyranny from the socialist countries of Latin America. Claims by the government of an “extraordinary turnout” in Sunday’s election in Venezuela are being called fraudulent by the opposition.
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro convened a constituent assembly for the purpose of rewriting the Venezuelan constitution, which was passed under Hugo Chavez in 1999. Yesterday, voters were supposed to choose 500 representatives to make up the assembly.
While election officials claims a turnout of around 41 percent (about 8 million votes), the opposition says that turnout was closer to 12 percent (or around 2.5 million votes). Despite the discrepancy, Maduro, in words that could only come from a propagandist, called the results “a vote for the revolution.”
President Maduro spoke at length on television after the results came out.
It was a victory speech for him and his followers but after a day of violence on the streets it’s a pretty hollow victory – if you can even call it that.
For all the talk of the vote being an example of democracy, critics accuse him of voter fraud and intimidation and many don’t believe the official numbers of voter turnout.
This vote highlights just how polarised the country is with a president who ploughs on regardless of the millions of people who object to it.
Venezuelan elections are not merely untrustworthy nods to nominal democracy — they are also dangerous. In addition to the widespread protests, 10 people were killed, following a pattern of violence that has rocked the country as protests have sprung up for months in response to horrific living conditions.
It is not a monolithic body that is boycotting the constituent assembly. The opposition chose not even to field candidates for the assembly, such is the expectation that the polls are rigged. With no opposition even on the ballot, the legitimacy of the results is in question. On the other side, some Chavistas, who supported Hugo Chavez’s original revolution, are unhappy with Maduro and his decision to have the constitution rewritten. Several million people reportedly voted against the assembly in the first place, knowing it was device from Maduro to consolidate power.
Unsurprisingly, among those elected as representatives were the wife of President Maduro, Cilia Flores, and the president’s close allies Diosdado Cabello, Iris Varela and Delcy Rodríguez, according to the BBC.
The people of Venezuela are not stupid. They want a change, but recognize that there is no hope of it coming from Maduro. This mass murder and suppression on the part of the government, along with the callous indifference toward the suffering of the starving citizens, has hammered home just how oppressive the president is and how little the lives of the people matter.
Fortunately, other countries have not recognized the results as legitimate, among them Colombia, Peru, Panama and Argentina, in South America alone. Nikki Haley, US ambassador the UN, called the election a sham and said the US would not accept the government.
Maduro’s sham election is another step toward dictatorship. We won't accept an illegit govt. The Venezuelan ppl & democracy will prevail.
— Nikki Haley (@nikkihaley) July 30, 2017
Still, aside from some US-imposed sanctions and meetings among Latin American leaders, little outside pressure has been applied to Venezuela’s despotic regime. The UN has wagged its finger at Maduro’s government, but has otherwise not lifted a finger to alleviate the situation. For now, the president is free to violently oppress enemies of socialist Venezuela without reprisal.