Venezuelan people defy imperialist threats and blackmail, re-elect Nicolás Maduro as president. Canadian and US respond. | MARGARET VILLAMIZAR
On May 20, Venezuelans re-elected Nicolás Maduro as president in an election held under huge pressure from the U.S. and Canada that it should not take place. When their threats of dire consequences, including the intensification of their blockade of Venezuela, did not lead to the election being cancelled they declared the election “illegitimate” and said they would not recognize its results. In sync with this imperial decision, a faction of the Venezuelan opposition that take their direction from Washington refused to participate in the election and called for people to abstain from voting.
While the pressure and blackmail no doubt had an effect, it was resisted by 46 per cent of the electorate who exercised their right to vote. This resulted in Nicolás Maduro being re-elected by a large majority with greater support from the electorate (31%) than either U.S. President Donald Trump or Prime Minister Justin Trudeau could claim in the elections that put them in office (27% in both cases). The same goes for most of the U.S.’s closest allies in the region and those hollering the loudest against Venezuela’s democracy – the neo-liberal Santos of Colombia, Peña Nieto of Mexico, Macri of Argentina and Piñera of Chile.
Press conference, May 21, 2018 announces the election results.
Of the over 9 million valid votes cast, 67.8 per cent went to Maduro who was the candidate for the Broad Front for the Homeland (Frente Amplio de la Patria) consisting of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, We are Venezuela (Somos Venezuela), the Communist Party of Venezuela, Homeland for All (Patria Para Todos) and six other parties.
Henri Falcón of the Progressive Advance Alliance (Avanzada Progresista) came second with 20.9 per cent of the vote. He was followed by Javier Bertucci of Hope for Change (Esperanza para el Cambio) with 10.8 per cent, and Reynaldo Quijada of Popular Political Unity 89 (Unidad Política Popular 89) with 0.4 per cent.
International observers from several countries, among them a delegation from Canada, reported favourably on the running of the election. A mission from the Council of Electoral Experts of Latin America (CEELA) declared the election to have been cleanly run and said they had observed nothing that could disqualify it and that the results should be recognized as reflecting the will of the Venezuelan people.
International observer mission led by the Council of Electoral Experts of Latin America presents their report declaring the elections to have been cleanly run.
Canada on its own and as part of the “Lima Group” declared the election illegitimate and said it would not recognize the results – a position it took the day the election was called. Using its role as Chair of the G7 this year, Canada made sure that body did the same, having already made known it was putting Venezuela on the agenda for the upcoming G7 summit in Quebec.
In a statement on May 21, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland falsely accused the Venezuelan government of “restricting Venezuelans’ rights and liberty” and “preventing the free participation of opposition parties.” Exposing the hypocrisy of the Canadian government on a matter that goes to the heart of its own credibility crisis and the crisis of Canadian democracy, Freeland denounced the Bolivarian government for not allowing its people to have a voice in their own governance.
The Trudeau government’s bailout of the TMX pipeline this week and its dictate that the pipeline will be built, now as a Crown project, despite the vehement opposition of Indigenous peoples and many Canadians, shows what it means when it says it is giving the people a voice. By the people is meant the monopolies who are given the right to do as they please. Meanwhile those who say No! are called extremists, fringe elements and threats to national security and singled out for attack in the same way Canada is going after Venezuela.
What’s more, Freeland’s lament that the people of Venezuela have allegedly been denied a voice came the day after her government denied over 5,000 registered Venezuelan electors resident in Canada their democratic right to vote in the presidential election by prohibiting Venezuela’s embassy and consulates from setting up polling stations inside their premises. The reason given for this gross interference was that Canada had decided the election was “illegitimate”!
Canada has initiated other punitive actions against Venezuela as well. The day after the election it announced it was downgrading its diplomatic relations and limiting its interactions with Venezuela to interfering in its affairs, which it called “advancing key Canadian objectives in this country, such as promoting democracy and respect for human rights.”
Other measures include:
- the Embassy of Canada to Venezuela is to be headed by a chargé d’affaires rather than an ambassador;
- a ban on Canada’s support for Venezuelan candidacies to multilateral and international organizations is to be maintained;
- formal bilateral military cooperation is banned;
- no Canadian government officials are to attend international or bilateral meetings and events hosted by or in Venezuela; and
- the issuance of invitations to senior Venezuelan government and military officials to attend events in or hosted by Canada is to be restricted, except where directly relevant to Canadian policy priorities; and
- More recently the government applied sanctions against fourteen more Venezuelans – many of them elected representatives – and Canadians are prohibited from having any financial dealings with or providing services for them. Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza denounced this move as reflecting “the humiliating subordination of [the Canadian government’s] foreign policy to the racist and supremacist administration of Donald Trump.”
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, representing the Trump administration, called the election fraudulent and “an attack on constitutional order and an affront to Venezuela’s tradition of democracy.” He threatened Venezuela with “isolation from the international community” if it does not give up its own independent path for what is understood to mean U.S.-style democracy.
Pompeo signalled a tightening of the U.S. economic and financial blockade that Trump ordered a few hours later, and its plan to try once more to kick Venezuela out of the Organization of American States at its 48th General Assembly June 4 to 5 in Washington, despite Venezuela already leaving of its own accord. Pompeo threatened “swift economic and diplomatic actions” to “restore democracy” in Venezuela.
All the U.S. and Canada have proved once again is that they are enemies of people’s power and will go to any lengths to protect the property rights and privileges that the oligarchs in Venezuela and elsewhere claim for themselves at the people’s expense.
The U.S. did the same to Cuba in 1960 when it launched the embargo that turned into a full-blown economic, financial and commercial blockade because it sought to destroy Cuba rather than recognize the right of the Cuban people to live a life of dignity and as sovereign masters of their destiny rather than slaves of a corrupt empire. Under all conditions and circumstances Cuba stands up for its rights and no matter how much the imperialists repeat their high-sounding ideals, that by attacking Cuba they are defending the human rights of Cubans, it is clear to the entire world, and especially to the Cuban people, that it is they who are the targets and suffer the effects of this perverse form of warfare. And where has it got the U.S. after 63 years? Former U.S. President Obama answered that question himself when he announced the re-establishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba in December 2014.
(Photos: Telesure, AVN, TML)
TML Weekly, June 2, 2018 – No. 21