Venezuela – Maduro’s Power Grab Election
The front page article in Monday’s (7/31/2017) Seattle Times, falsely suggests that Sunday’s (7/30/17) election in Venezuelan was a power grab by Pres. Nicholas Maduro to gain dictatorial power.
This was an election for delegates to a Constituent Assembly to rewrite the country’s Constitution and was called by Pres. Maduro according to article 347 and 348 of the Venezuelan Constitution. Opponents incongruously call this election undemocratic. Yet more than 6000 candidates qualified to run by obtaining signatures of 3% of their respective constituencies. The elected delegates have only eight very vague, general, totally high-sounding and unobjectionable guidelines. So they have no mandate to make Maduro a dictator or anything like that and are therefore totally free to propose any changes to the government and electoral structure they want. This open process belies the claim that it is “aimed at giving greater power to Pres. Nicholas Maduro.” But it was a completely legitimate and lawful maneuver by Maduro. To claim that the democratic election of an assembly to amend the constitution under provisions of the current constitution is undemocratic is counterintuitive and patently false.
The Time’s article also misleadingly states that the “new assembly would contain only Maduro loyalists,” without mentioning that the opposition boycotted the election, so naturally the candidates are likely Maduro supporters. The article goes on to claim that the body would replace the democraticall y elected National Assembly, which is sheer one-sided, negative speculation. Why would a duly elected body cede power to a dictator? Let’s wait and see what they come up with. Finally the new draft constitution will be submitted for approval of the people in a referendum. That’s an undemocratic power grab?
The flood of negative and distorted news articles and opinion pieces in the press, along with the US government’s staunch opposition to Maduro, including the imposition of sanctions and even a threat of a military option, makes no sense. What interest does the US government have in intervening in the government of Venezuela? — unless it has something to do with getting better access to Venezuelan oil. It is not in our national interest to interfere. It’s none of our business. Let the Venezuelan people solve their own very deep problems their own way.
Maduro’s re-election to a new 6-year term in May, 2018, is claimed to be a sham by critics of the Maduro regime, including the United States, Canada Israel and a few other US allies, but US allies, Turkey, Egypt and South Africa recognize the election as legitimate. An international observer mission led by the Council of Electoral Experts of Latin America (CEELA), comprised of former top electoral officials from throughout the region, said the election was clean.
The election has been mainly criticized for low voter turnout, but the low turnout was in large part the result of the boycott of the election by the principal opposition party, MUD. Other potential candidates were not allowed on the ballot, some for failing to file proerly. So Maduro was elected.
Why, then, have the US, Canada and a number of other South American (but not Mexico) and Western nations recognized Juan Guido as the legitimate leader of Venezuela, when he has not been elected? The National Assembly has designated him as interim successor to president Nicolas Maduro, who, incidentally was in fact elected president in a contested election in 2013 following the death of President Hugo Chavez and re-elected in the 2018 disputed election. The totally bogus legal argument of Guido and his supporters is that since Maduro’s election was illegitimate, under section 233 of the Venezuelan Constitution, he was deemed to have “abandoned” the presidency, thus allowing the National Assembly to name Guido as successor. But, if that ridiculous interpretation of the Constitution were correct, that same section of the Constitution requires that the designated successor only serve for 30 days and that elections should be conducted within that same 30 days to name a new president. Why hasn’t that happened? Why isn’t the US urging an election do-over, which makes complete sense and is consistent with Venezuelan Constitutional law. Madero’s critics, who claim devotion to the rule of law, have proven themselves to be hypocrites.
US vigorous outspoken support for Guido’s claims to the presidency and its opposition to Maduro, accompanied by severe economic sanctions against the country’s struggling economy and not so subtle saber rattling, strike me as very similar to — if not much worse than — the current outrage over Russian meddling in our elections.
For an in depth analysis of the Venezuela’s economic and political quandary and its historical context see the talk by Joe Emersberger to the Alliance for Global Justice on November 8, 2018. He talked about the media propaganda campaign against Venezuela, the crippling sanctions imposed by the U.S., the loss of revenue from the drop in oil prices and some of the economic troubles encountered and mistakes made by Maduro. It is not a simple picture, but one thing is clear: the U.S. should stop punishing Venezuela or at least keep out of the conflict there. Follow this link: