Saturday, December 05, 2015

Venezuelan election tomorrow

"Venezuela is Latin America's biggest exporter of crude oil and has the world's largest petroleum reserves." - Brian Ellsworth and Andrew Cawthorne, Venezuela death toll rises to 13 as protests flare Reuters 02/24/2014

Venezuela has national elections tomorrow. As Washington's least-favorite Latin American regime after Cuba, there is a lot of international attention on the outcome. For the reason just quoted, Venezuelan politics always counts for high stakes for people and corporations outside the country.

Jonas Holldack writes about European posturing against Nicolás Maduro's regime in Rightwing European Prime Ministers Publicly Accuse Venezuelan Government of Foul Play Ahead of Elections Venezuela Analysis 12/03/2015:

Last Tuesday several European newspapers published an open-letter written by high ranking rightwing political figures in the European Union (EU) and Latin America, criticising the Venezuelan government and its institutions for violating democratic norms just a few days before the country heads to parliamentary elections this December 6th.

Signed by: Mariano Rajoy (President of Spain), David Cameron (Prime Minister of Great Britain), Manuel Valls (Prime Minister France), Thorbjørn Jagland (Secretary General of the Council of Europe), Felipe González (former President of Spain), Henrique Cardoso (former President of Brasil) and Ricardo Lagos (former President of Chile), the letter accuses the Maduro administration of an “abuse of power,” breaching “democratic” ideals associated with “Western political culture” and using foul play to turn the upcoming election results in its favour.
One might think that the President of Spain, the formal colonial power in Venezuela, would be more circumspect, especially since the conservative government of Spain connived in the 2002 coup attempt against Hugo Chávez. But obviously one would be wrong in that expectation.

Conservative political leaders like the ones signing the letter are making a particular cause out of the imprisonment of far-right leader Leopoldo López:

In particular, the political figures take up the defence of jailed political opposition leader, Leopoldo Lopez, who was sentenced to 13 years in prison by Venezuelan institutions earlier this year for crimes related to the 2014 “barricades”, including incitement to public violence, association to commit crimes, and promoting damage and arson. His wife Lilian Tintori is currently at the forefront of an international campaign to release him. She met with Mariano Rajoy, the European Parliament and other European politicians in October.

The barricades claimed the lives of 43 people - including Chavistas, opposition supporters and state security forces - injuring hundreds and damaging private and public property. Many communities were left without food and gas for months when opposition supporters blocked vehicles transporting food, fuel and medical supplies.
And it's not just European leaders getting into the act (Rachael Boothroyd Rojash, Hillary Clinton: Venezuela’s Maduro Attempting to “Rig” Upcoming Elections Venezuela Analysis 12/01/2015):

Speaking at the Atlanta Council conference “Politics, Government and Women in Latin America: Better than you think?” this past Monday, Clinton beseeched hemispheric leaders to “raise their voices” on behalf of the Venezuelan people this Sunday, when they will elect their representatives to the country’s National Assembly.

“To date, (the Maduro administration) has been doing all it can to rig the elections: jailing political opponents, blocking with trumped up charges, stoking political tensions.”

“The people of Venezuela need to know that their friends and neighbours in the Americas are rallying to their cause and defence. They are not alone,” she stated. ...

As former Secretary of State for the Obama administration between 2009-2013, Clinton’s tenure coincided with an increase in funding for political opposition groups in Venezuela from institutions such as the National Endowment for Democracy – which in return receives an annual appropriation from US Congress through the State Department.

On Monday she vowed that the US would “show leadership and lead in the region more broadly” if she were to become president in 2016.
It sounds like a Hillary Clinton Administration could be expected to continue a policy of intervention on behalf of pro-oligarchical, conservative governments and movements in Latin America.

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