FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The US Continues to Undermine Democracy in Venezuela

by DANIEL KOVALIK

I just returned from Venezuela where I was one of 170 international election observers from around the world, including India, Guyana, Surinam, Colombia, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Scotland, England, the United States, Guatemala, Argentina, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, Jamaica, Brazil, Chile, Greece, France, Panama and Mexico.   These observers included two former Presidents (of Guatemala and the Dominican Republic), judges, lawyers and numerous high ranking officials of national electoral councils.   What we found was an election system which was transparent, inherently reliable, well-run and thoroughly audited.

Indeed, as to the auditing, what has been barely mentioned by the mainstream press is the fact that over 54% of all votes are, and indeed have already been, audited to ensure that the electronic votes match up with the paper receipts which serve as back-up for the electronic votes.   And, this auditing is done in the presence of witnesses from both the governing and opposition parties right in the local polling place itself.    I witnessed just such an audit at the end of election day on Sunday.  And, as is the usual case, the paper results matched up perfectly with the electronic ones.   As the former Guatemalan President, Alvaro Colom, who served as an observer, opined, the vote in Venezuela is “secure” and easily verifiable.

In short, the observers’ experience this past week aligns with former U.S. president Jimmy Carter’s observation last year that Venezuela’s electoral system is indeed the “the best in the world.”

VOTER001

Proud Voter: Acevedo, Venezuela. Photo: Dan Kovalik 2013.

And so, what were the results of the election?   With an impressive 79% of registered voters going to the polls, Nicolas Maduro won by over 260,000 votes, with a 1.6 percentage point margin over Henrique Capriles (50.7 to 49.1 percent).   While this was certainly a close race, 260,000 votes is a comfortable victory, certainly by U.S. election standards.   Thus, recall that John F. Kennedy beat Richard Nixon in 1960 with 49.7% of the vote to Nixon’s 49.6%.   In addition, George W. Bush became President in 2000, though losing the popular vote to Al Gore, with 47.87% of the vote to Gore’s 48.38 percent, and with the entire race coming down to several hundred votes in Florida.  And, while the State of Florida itself decided that it was necessary to have a hand re-count of the ballots there, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned this decision and blocked the re-count.   In none of these cases did any nation in the world insist upon a recount or hesitate in recognizing the man declared to be the winner.   Indeed, had a country like Venezuela done so, we would have found such a position absurd.    The U.S.’s current position vis a vis Venezuela is no less absurd.

The U.S.’s position is all the more ridiculous given its quick recognition of the coup government in Paraguay after the former Bishop turned President, Fernando Lugo, was ousted in 2012, and its recognition of the 2009 elections in Honduras despite the fact that the U.S.’s previously-stated precondition for recognizing this election – the return of President Manual Zelaya to power after his forcible ouster by the military – never occurred.    Of course, this even pales in comparison to the U.S.’s active involvement in violent coups against democratically-elected leaders in Latin America (e.g., against President Arbenz in Guatemala in 1954, against President Allende in Chile in 1973, and against President Aristide in Haiti in 2004).

And, the U.S.’s failure to recognize the Venezuelan elections is having devastating consequences in Venezuela, for it is emboldening the Venezuelan opposition to carry out violence in Venezuela in order to destabilize that country.   Unlike Al Gore in 2000 who stepped aside for George W. Bush in the interest of his country and the U.S. Constitution, the Venezuelan opposition, being led by Henrique Capriles, clearly wants to foster chaos and crisis in Venezuela in order to topple the Maduro government by force (just as the same forces represented by Capriles forcibly kidnapped and briefly overthrew President Chavez, with U.S. support, in 2002).   Thus, reasonably believing itself to have the backing of the U.S. and its military, the opposition is causing mayhem in Venezuela, including burning down clinics, destroying property, attacking Cuban doctors and destroying ruling party building.   In all, 7 Venezuelans are dead and dozens injured in this opposition-led violence.

There is no doubt that the U.S. could halt this violence right now by recognizing the results of the Venezuelan elections, just as the nations of the world recognized, without question, the results of the election which put John F. Kennedy in power in 1960 and George W. Bush in power in 2000.

The reason the U.S. is not doing so is obvious – it does not like the Venezuelan’s chosen form of government, and welcomes that government’s demise, even through violence.    The U.S., therefore, is not supporting democracy and stability in Venezuela; it is intentionally undermining it.

Update:  Venezuelan government agrees to expand audit of votes to 100 percent of all votes cast 

Daniel Kovalik is a labor and human rights lawyer living in Pittsburgh, and teaches International Human Rights at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.

 

 

More articles by:

Daniel Kovalik teaches International Human Rights at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

June 26, 2017
William Hawes – Jason Holland
Lies That Capitalists Tell Us
Chairman Brandon Sazue
Out of the Shadow of Custer: Zinke Proves He’s No “Champion” of Indian Country With his Grizzly Lies
Patrick Cockburn
Grenfell Tower: the Tragic Price of the Rolled-Back Stat
Joseph Mangano
Tritium: Toxic Tip of the Nuclear Iceberg
Ray McGovern
Hersh’s Big Scoop: Bad Intel Behind Trump’s Syria Attack
Roy Eidelson
Heart of Darkness: Observations on a Torture Notebook
Geoff Beckman
Why Democrats Lose: the Case of Jon Ossoff
Matthew Stevenson
Travels Around Trump’s America
David Macaray
Law Enforcement’s Dirty Little Secret
Colin Todhunter
Future Shock: Imagining India
Yoav Litvin
Animals at the Roger Waters Concert
Binoy Kampmark
Pride in San Francisco
Stansfield Smith
 North Koreans in South Korea Face Imprisonment for Wanting to Return Home
James Porteous
Seventeen-Year-Old Nabra Hassanen Was Murdered
Weekend Edition
June 23, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Democrats in the Dead Zone
Gary Leupp
Trump, Qatar and the Danger of Total Confusion
Andrew Levine
The “Democracies” We Deserve
Jeffrey St. Clair - Joshua Frank
The FBI’s “Operation Backfire” and the Case of Briana Waters
Rob Urie
Cannibal Corpse
Joseph G. Ramsey
Savage Calculations: On the Exoneration of Philando Castile’s Killer
John Wight
Trump’s Attack on Cuba
Dave Lindorff
We Need a Mass Movement to Demand Radical Progressive Change
Brian Cloughley
Moving Closer to Doom
David Rosen
The Sex Offender: the 21st Century Witch
John Feffer
All Signs Point to Trump’s Coming War With Iran
Jennifer L. Lieberman
What’s Really New About the Gig Economy?
Pete Dolack
Analyzing the Failures of Syriza
Vijay Prashad
The Russian Nexus
Mike Whitney
Putin Tries to Avoid a Wider War With the US
Gregory Barrett
“Realpolitik” in Berlin: Merkel Fawns Over Kissinger
Louis Yako
The Road to Understanding Syria Goes Through Iraq
Graham Peebles
Grenfell Tower: A Disaster Waiting to Happen
Ezra Rosser
The Poverty State of Mind and the State’s Obligations to the Poor
Ron Jacobs
Andrew Jackson and the American Psyche
Pepe Escobar
Fear and Loathing on the Afghan Silk Road
Lawrence Davidson
On Hidden Cultural Corruptors
Andre Vltchek
Why I Reject Western Courts and Justice
Christopher Brauchli
The Routinization of Mass Shootings in America
Missy Comley Beattie
The Poor Need Not Apply
Martin Billheimer
White Man’s Country and the Iron Room
Joseph Natoli
What to Wonder Now
Tom Clifford
Hong Kong: the Chinese Meant Business
Thomas Knapp
The Castile Doctrine: Cops Without Consequences
Nyla Ali Khan
Borders Versus Memory
Binoy Kampmark
Death on the Road: Memory in Tim Winton’s Shrine
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail