FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Venezuela Survives Another Attempt at Regime Change

by MARK WEISBROT

While most of the news on Venezuela in the week since the April 14 presidential election focused on the efforts of losing candidate Henrique Capriles to challenge the results, there was another campaign based in Washington that was quite revealing.  And the two were most definitely related.  Without Washington’s strong support – the first time it had refused to recognize a Venezuelan election result –  it is unlikely that Capriles would have joined the hard core elements of his camp in pretending that the election was stolen.

Washington’s efforts to de-legitimize the election mark a significant escalation of U.S. efforts at “regime change” in Venezuela.   Not since its involvement in the 2002 military coup has the U.S. government done this much to promote open conflict in Venezuela.  When the White House first announced on Monday that a 100 percent audit of the votes was “an important, prudent and necessary step,” this was not an effort to promote a “recount.”  They had to know that this was a form of hate speech – telling the government of Venezuela what was necessary to make their elections legitimate.  They also had to know that it would not make such a recount more likely.  And this was also their quick reply to Maduro’s efforts, according to the New York Times of April 15, to reach out to the Obama administration for better relations through former Clinton Energy Secretary Bill Richardson.

But the Obama team’s effort failed miserably. On Wednesday the government of Spain, Washington’s only significant ally supporting a “100 percent audit” reversed its position and recognized Maduro’s election.  Then the Secretary General of the OAS, Jose Miguel Insulza, backed off his prior alignment with the Obama administration and recognized the election result. Although some of the press had misreported Insulza’s position as that of the OAS, in reality he had been representing nobody but Washington.  It was not just the left governments of Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, Bolivia, Uruguay and others that had quickly congratulated Maduro on his victory.  Mexico, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Haiti and other non-left governments had joined them.  The Obama administration was completely isolated in the world.

Washington’s clumsy efforts had also helped highlight the election as an issue of national sovereignty, something that is deeply cherished in the region.  “Americans should take care of their own business a little and let us decide our own destiny,” saidLula da Silva at a rally in Brazil. Of course, there were screaming ironies:  George W. Bush “defeated” Gore in 2000, losing the popular vote and “winning” Florida officially by perhaps 900 votes (and quite possibly losing it altogether), with no recount.

But the demand for a “recount” was farcical from the beginning.  In Venezuela, voters mark their choice by pressing a touch screen on a computer, which prints out a receipt of the vote.  The voter checks the receipt and deposits it in a ballot box.  When the polls close, 53 percent of the machines are randomly selected and their results compared with the paper, in front of witnesses from all sides.  There were no reports of mismatches, so far not even from the opposition camp.  The opposition representative on the National Electoral Council, Vicente Díaz, acknowledged that he had “no doubt” that the vote count was accurate.

“No doubt” is an understatement.  My colleague David Rosnick calculated the probability that extending the audit to the remaining 47 percent of machines could change the result of the election:  about one in 25 thousand trillion.

On Thursday night Venezuela’s CNE agreed to do a complete audit of the remaining votes and Capriles called off his protests.  But it’s not clear what the audit entails.  The legal vote in Venezuela is the machine vote (as in parts of the United States where there is electronic voting); the paper receipt is not a vote, and it’s not clear that it would be possible to audit the remaining votes in the way that the first 53 percent were audited on site.

On Wednesday, Secretary of State John Kerry, affirming before Congress the U.S. refusal to recognize Venezuela’s elections, referred to Latin America as the United States’ “back yard.”  Oops.  Well, the contempt was obvious anyway, no?

Mark Weisbrot is an economist and co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. He is co-author, with Dean Baker, of Social Security: the Phony Crisis.

This essay originally appeared in The Guardian

.

Mark Weisbrot is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, in Washington, D.C. and president of Just Foreign Policy. He is also the author of the forthcoming book Failed: What the “Experts” Got Wrong About the Global Economy (Oxford University Press, 2015).

February 09, 2016
Andrew Levine
Hillary Says the Darndest Things
Paul Street
Kill King Capital
Ben Burgis
Lesser Evil Voting and Hillary Clinton’s War on the Poor
Paul Craig Roberts
Are the Payroll Jobs Reports Merely Propaganda Statements?
Fran Quigley
How Corporations Killed Medicine
Ted Rall
How Bernie Can Pay for His Agenda: Slash the Military
Neve Gordon
Israeli Labor Party Adopts the Apartheid Mantra
Kristin Kolb
The “Great” Bear Rainforest Agreement? A Love Affair, Deferred
Joseph Natoli
Politics and Techno-Consciousness
Hrishikesh Joshi
Selective Attention to Diversity: the Case of Cruz and Rubio
Stavros Mavroudeas
Why Syriza is Sinking in Greece
David Macaray
Attention Peyton Manning: Leave Football and Concentrate on Pizza
Arvin Paranjpe
Opening Your Heart
Kathleen Wallace
Boys, Hell, and the Politics of Vagina Voting
Brian Foley
Interview With a Bernie Broad: We Need to Start Focusing on Positions and Stop Relying on Sexism
February 08, 2016
Paul Craig Roberts – Michael Hudson
Privatization: the Atlanticist Tactic to Attack Russia
Mumia Abu-Jamal
Water War Against the Poor: Flint and the Crimes of Capital
John V. Walsh
Did Hillary’s Machine Rig Iowa? The Highly Improbable Iowa Coin Tosses
Vincent Emanuele
The Curse and Failure of Identity Politics
Eliza A. Webb
Hillary Clinton’s Populist Charade
Uri Avnery
Optimism of the Will
Roy Eidelson Trudy Bond, Stephen Soldz, Steven Reisner, Jean Maria Arrigo, Brad Olson, and Bryant Welch
Preserve Do-No-Harm for Military Psychologists: Coalition Responds to Department of Defense Letter to the APA
Patrick Cockburn
Oil Prices and ISIS Ruin Kurdish Dreams of Riches
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange, the UN and Meanings of Arbitrary Detention
Shamus Cooke
The Labor Movement’s Pearl Harbor Moment
W. T. Whitney
Cuba, War and Ana Belen Montes
Jim Goodman
Congress Must Kill the Trans Pacific Partnership
Peter White
Meeting John Ross
Colin Todhunter
Organic Agriculture, Capitalism and the Parallel World of the Pro-GMO Evangelist
Ralph Nader
They’re Just Not Answering!
Cesar Chelala
Beware of the Harm on Eyes Digital Devices Can Cause
Weekend Edition
February 5-7, 2016
Jeffrey St. Clair
When Chivalry Fails: St. Bernard and the Machine
Leonard Peltier
My 40 Years in Prison
John Pilger
Freeing Julian Assange: the Final Chapter
Garry Leech
Terrifying Ted and His Ultra-Conservative Vision for America
Andrew Levine
Smash Clintonism: Why Democrats, Not Republicans, are the Problem
William Blum
Is Bernie Sanders a “Socialist”?
Daniel Raventós - Julie Wark
We Can’t Afford These Billionaires
Enrique C. Ochoa
Super Bowl 50: American Inequality on Display
Jonathan Cook
The Liberal Hounding of Julian Assange: From Alex Gibney to The Guardian
George Wuerthner
How the Bundy Gang Won
Mike Whitney
Peace Talks “Paused” After Putin’s Triumph in Aleppo 
Ted Rall
Hillary Clinton: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Gary Leupp
Is a “Socialist” Really Unelectable? The Potential Significance of the Sanders Campaign
Vijay Prashad
The Fault Line of Race in America
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail