Friday, August 4, 2017

Truth, Lies and the Venezuelan Election

            On Sunday, July 30th, Venezuela held elections for delegates to a new Constituent Assembly - called by President Nicolas Maduro in an effort to break the political deadlock between the executive and legislature, to engage the country’s opposing forces in dialogue, and to calm the street violence. The effort has been widely trashed in the Western media  and  has met with scepticism even by those that proudly proclaim their objectivity like The Guardian and the New York Times . The BBC  joined the action with a truly virtuoso piece of misrepresentation by BBC Mundo journalist Vladimir Hernández in which most of the interviewees were juveniles wearing masks, though he also slavishly lapped up for our delection a  smorgasbord of anti-government slogans from  María Corina Machado who was a signatory to the attempted coup against Hugo Chavez in 2002 and has worked tirelessly since to overthrow the Bolivarian government - including appealling for US intervention.  Even The Guardian’s Paul Mason, a notable drummer for the left, readily drops Maduro into the “dictator” basket with the casual confidence a papal nuncio.
            Spanish-language media have been notably enthusiastic about damning the Maduro government and attributing street violence - even a roadside bomb  against  a patrol of Venezuela’s National Guard - as government savagery, an accusation beyond absurdity and a tacit defence of terrorism. But then terrorism nowadays seems to be in the eye of the beholder - a multi-definitional item in the encyclopaedia of alternative reality.
            Meanwhile, the US State Department condemns the Maduro government and dismisses the constituent assembly for “undermining democracy”. State Department spokesperson, Heather Nauert, has gone on to assure the world that the United States will take action against Maduro with the aim of bringing an end to the “regime” and restoring liberty to the Venezuelan people.  Doubtless this is a noble ambition. Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, and Iraq - countries now descended into violent chaos  - offer examples of the US’s unimpeachable record of helping to bring freedom and democracy to benighted peoples. Surely only unconscionable cynics could maintain that US concern for Venezuela is anything other than honourable, or motivated by that country’s enormous reserves of oil and strategic minerals. For the world’s great superpower, democracy always trumps business as the number one concern as we can plainly see in the US's excellent relationship with Saudi Arabia - one of the world’s great  exemplars of democratic freedoms.
            Maybe a few facts about the recent electoral exercise in Venezuela could help shed light on the reasons for such widespread alarm. Opposition claims that a mere 12% of the electorate voted on Sunday are offered without a shred of supporting evidence and are contradicted not just by the government but by local media. More credibly, the official percentage is not the nearly 100%nonsense routinely put out  by dicators, but 41.5%, equivalent to just over 8 million ballots. Smartmatic, the UK company responsible for the electronic voting system employed in the recent election, has claimed that the results were tampered with and that voter turn-out was at least one million less than the total announced by CNE, the country's electoral commission. This has been widely reported in the Western media. What has not been reported is that the company withdrew its key personnel immediately after the vote, closed its office, and fled to London before  broadcasting its accusation of fraud, having failed even to discuss the matter or to verify the vote tally with CNE.  Eldiario, the on-line news medium based in Valencia, is one of the few European sources to offer a different view via an interview with an on-the-spot observer of the electoral process.
            As points of comparison, in the presidential elections of 2012, Hugo Chavez received 8.2 million votes, while in 2013 Maduro got 7.5 million. The number of votes in the 2015 congressional election, won by the Opposition and proclaimed as 100% legitimate by all and sundry, was a whopping 5.6 million.
            The queues depicted in this video show people of all social backgrounds (not just the white elite interviewed in the BBC’s disreputable report) patiently waiting to vote in Sunday’s election - many of them having travelled some distance to the voting station, because opposition thugs had sabotaged their local station during the previous night. Without such acts of sabotage and the constant threat of opposition violence,  voting numbers would almost certainly have been significantly higher.
            It’s a fair bet that none of the 8 million Venezuelan voters who turned out on Sunday were demanding to be rescued by the United States - or anyone else.

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