Maduro Claims Dubious Election Victory in Venezuela

Maduro Claims Dubious Election Victory in Venezuela
Brian Oaster

88 percent of people refrained from voting Sunday in Venezuela’s election, refusing to recognize its legitimacy, according to opposition numbers.

41.5 percent of people turned out to vote Sunday in Venezuela’s election, and voted for President Nicolás 

Maduro to tighten his hold on the government, according to electoral officials.

Which story is true? We may never know the correct numbers.

Maduro Crows Victory

In a televised speech, Maduro touted his victory as a “vote for the revolution.” He was referring, presumably, to the now-institutionalized Bolivarian revolution. The establishment resulted from the efforts of Maduro’s predecessor, Che Guevara. Guevara’s policies, carried forward by Maduro, helped push the country’s once-thriving economy into ruin.

Maduro’s comment was dismissive of the other potential revolution–the one happening right outside in the streets.

Protesters in Caracas ignored a protest ban to gather in the streets on the day of Venezuela’s election. They built barricades, anticipating attacks by a police force still loyal to Maduro. At least 10 people were killed amid Venezuela’s election process, adding to a body count of at least 125 since the protests began in April.

Opponents Call Venezuela’s Election a Sham

The results of Venezuela’s election outraged the vocal opposition. They claim that because it did not not follow usual procedures, the results are not valid.

There were no third party observers to audit the polling process, nor did officials take the usual measures to prevent people from voting twice.

Only 2.5 million Venezuelans turned out to vote, estimates opposition politician Henry Ramos Allup.

Tibisay Lucena, Maduro’s head of the National Electoral Council (CNE), praised the “extraordinary turnout” of more than 8 million voters.

Maduro’s Plan to Change the Constitution

On May 1st, Maduro replaced the national assembly, the existing legislative body, with a new constituent assembly, which would have the power to rewrite the constitution.

Rewriting the constitution, he said without giving detail or examples, would be a step toward “reconciliation and peace” for the severely divided country.

Detractors point out that rewriting the constitution will allow Maduro to stay in power as a fully fledged dictator.

Venezuela’s election Sunday was to choose the members that would make up the constituent assembly. Allies of Maduro’s Socialist Party won all 545 seats in the assembly.

The assembly will also have the power to dissolve existing state institutions, like the opposition-lead Congress.

The opposition organized a nationwide boycott on Venezuela’s election, because having a constituent assembly in the first place doesn’t represent the public’s wishes.

José Félix Pineda, a candidate for the constituent assembly, was shot to death the night before Venezuela’s election.

International Response to Venezuela’s Election

Critics are calling Venezuela’s election, and Maduro’s victory, a sham democracy.

Luis Almagro, head of the Organization of American States, has repeatedly denounced Maduro’s government. Maduro has countered by threatening a Brexit-style withdrawal from the OAS.

The European Union has expressed serious doubts about recognizing Venezuela’s election, denouncing “the excessive and disproportionate use of force by security forces.”

The U.S., no stranger to use of force against citizens, has also denounced the election as a sham.

U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley condemned the election, tweeting: “Maduro’s sham election is another step toward dictatorship. We won’t accept an illegit govt. The Venezuelan ppl & democracy will prevail.”

The U.S. is threatening further sanctions after Venezuela’s election, targeting a crippled oil industry that needs foreign investment to survive.

Venezuela is home the world’s richest oil deposits, making it a target for economically powerful countries.

“A spokesperson for emperor Donald Trump said that they would not recognize the results of Venezuela’s constituent assembly election,” Maduro said in a speech following the election.

“Why the hell should we care what Trump says? We care about what the sovereign people of Venezuela say.”

Constituents will be sworn in at the constituent assembly on Wednesday. There are no signs of tensions diffusing.

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