Despite right wing economic war in recent months, the candidates of ‘Chavismo’ comfortably won Sunday’s municipal elections, consolidating President Maduro’s leadership, and further enhancing Venezuelan democracy, writes VSC Secretary Francisco Dominguez.
The 7 December 2013 municipal elections in Venezuela have produced a robust and convincing victory for chavismo: late last night the national electoral authority (CNE) announced that with 97.52 per cent of the votes processed, PSUV candidates won 210 mayoralties (76 per cent of the total) whilst candidates of the right wing (MUD coalition) were victorious in 53 (15.82 per cent). A total of about 76 mayoralties have to yet be adjudicated by the national electoral authority (CNE.)
The PSUV and allied candidates got 49.24 per cent of the popular vote, whilst the right wing candidates, got 42.72 per cent. Thus, the PSUV had an electoral victory by a healthy margin of 7 per cent. The electoral turnout was 59.82 per cent. This is high, since in Venezuela municipal elections tend to have low electoral turnouts.
Key sections of the MUD and the MUD’s allies in the US saw the untimely death of President Hugo Chavez earlier this year as a window of opportunity to destabilise and oust the Bolivarian government. And they thought this opportunity increased when at the presidential election to replace president Chavez on 14 April 2013, Nicolas Maduro won by a slender 1.5 per cent.
To prepare the ground in the run-up to April they waged a massive and intense but groundless campaign to discredit the CNE (National Electoral Council.) Believing the moment was ripe, they unleashed a wave of violence prompted by their leader Henrique Capriles, who on April 15, on national TV called upon his supporters to come out into the streets to protest at the ‘electoral fraud’ and invited them ‘to vent your anger’. The resulting violence led to the death of 11 people, and two children.
The false accusation of fraud was a charge used by Capriles and the MUD not to accept defeat and to not recognise the Maduro government. This position of non-recognition is a position supported by only one government in the world: the United States. Still today, Capriles and the MUD have yet to recognise the Maduro government and accept the election result of April 2013. US state agencies continue to fund with millions of dollars (of taxpayers money) the activities of Venezuela’s right wing.
For the municipal elections of December 7, the MUD and its leader, Henrique Capriles, alongside sections of the world media, spread the fallacy that this election represented a plebiscite on President Nicolas Maduro – indeed, Henrique Capriles even called on president Maduro to resign if the PSUV lost the popular vote!
The MUD’s ‘plebiscite deception’ was part of their destabilisation campaign against the legitimate, democratically elected, Bolivarian government.
In this worth noting at this point, that the Right’s campaign of destabilisation had begun well before the 14 April 2013 presidential election and continues today, intensifying in recent months. It has involved discrediting the armed forces with the declared intention to sow internal divisions, sabotage of electricity plants, massive speculation on US dollars in the black market, deliberate creation of shortages of basic commodities such as milk, edible oil and toilette paper, the hoarding of electro domestics, and incredible retail commerce overcharging (usually by 100 per cent and 200 per cent, but which on some items could reach 1000 per cent or 2000 per cent, and with one trader overcharging as much as 12000 per cent!)
Such destabilisation efforts are all part of a well orchestrated campaign aimed at creating conditions such as those that led to the overthrow of Salvador Allende in Chile in 1973. Right wing propaganda kept making ominous predictions that during October and November Venezuela would face ‘total collapse’.
This is worth keeping in mind when noting that whilst having suffered another electoral defeat, the MUD has scored reasonably well in some urban centres, where the worst manifestations of the economic war have been felt.
However, whilst Opposition strategists counted on discontent resulting from the difficulties arising out of economic sabotage and ongoing destabilisation, President Maduro took speedy and effective measures to counter the economic war. He tightened the market on hard currency, thus substantially reducing black market speculation, and imposed limits on the outrageous overpricing being practiced by traders.
The President’s countermeasures seem to both have proved rather popular and also deflated the opposition. In response to his measures, on 23 November the MUD organised a poorly attended ‘monster march’ in only a few cities in Venezuela to oppose Maduro’s measures, including a law putting a very reasonable ceiling of 30 per cent profit on non-food retail items and a substantial reduction of the price of rents to commercial establishments.
Thanks to the leadership of president Maduro and his government’s effective measures, Venezuela had its 19th election in 14 years taking place peacefully, with civic consciousness by a calm and relaxed population, who, despite opposition efforts to discredit it, clearly trust the electoral authority. Indeed, this was yet another impeccably conducted electoral process, characterised, as every previous election since 1999, for its total transparency.
In this sense, thanks to Bolivarian politics, Venezuela’s democracy, permanently under threat from sections of the right wing in cahoots with key US agencies, has had another boost,
Finally, in terms the nonsense about the 7 December 2013 election being a plebiscite on what the opposition claimed was an unpopular Government, the democratic verdict of the Venezuelan people’s behaviour tells us exactly the opposite. After the death of Hugo Chavez, they elected a Chavista president, somebody recommended to them by Hugo Chavez himself, exactly one year ago on 8 Dec 2012, just before he went to Havana for his last cancer treatment. They have also given chavismo a majority in the National Assembly (99 against 64), a majority of governors (20 out of total of 23), a majority of local legislatures (22 out of 23), and now a majority of mayoralties.
Venezuelan democracy is alive, vibrant and now stronger. At the victory rally President Maduro asserted that the economic war unleashed against Venezuela could not defeat the Bolivarian process. Maduro also called for a process of national dialogue with all the elected mayors, regardless of political allegiance. About the electoral victory, he said: “the people of Venezuela has told the word that the Bolivarian Revolution is as strong as ever.”
Will Venezuela’s right and their supporters and sponsors in the US ever respect the will of the people?