Elections, Hypocrisy and Venezuela

A letter to the UK Guardian, by Sam McGill, makes excellent points regarding Venezuela’s recent election:

Nicolas Maduro won Sunday's elections by 1.8%, 262,000 votes. Capriles only won the governorship of Miranda in December last year by 40,000 votes, and both sides accepted the results and the transparency of the Venezuelan National Electoral Council. Chávez lost the constitutional reform referendum in 2007 by a narrower margin, 1.4%, and accepted the result. With a turnout of just under 79%, the results mean 40% of the Venezuelan electorate voted for Maduro, more than Thatcher in 1979 (33%), Blair in 1997 (31%), Cameron in 2010 (23%), Obama in 2008 (30%) and Attlee in 1945 (36%). The calls of election fraud are part of a premeditated plan to destabilise the country.

The USA – standing very close to alone in the world– has held back recognizing Maduro as the winner and backed the opposition’s demand for a 100% audit of the count. On Democracy Now! Amy Goodman pointed out the extreme hypocrisy of the US stance given that there was no such 100% audit of Bush’s razor thin electoral "victory" in 2000 – one in which Al Gore actually received more votes. Obviously, if Russia, Iran or some such rival or enemy of the USA took such a flagrantly hypocritical and isolated stance then there would be a stampede of western journalists pointing it out. Unfortunately, US hypocrisy, regardless how blatant, will go largely unnoticed.  Even more unfortunately, this matters to what happens in Venezuela.

The US stance emboldens the “golpistas” (coupsters) within the Venezuelan opposition. If the US position was widely ridiculed, as it deserves to be, in the western media then the political costs of enabling golpistas would increase drastically. Any decent person should care about raising those costs.

The US did not simply support but actually perpetrated a coup in Haiti in 2004. It also backed coup in Honduras in 2009 while feigning opposition to it. Both coups created human rights catastrophes. The anniversary of a briefly successful US backed coup in Venezuela in 2002 just passed a few days ago.  

The US may not have the capacity for regime change in Latin America that it had in the Pinochet era, but nobody should underestimate the damage it (and its rich allies like Canada) can inflict on other countries.  

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