Thursday, April 18, 2013

Veneuzuela faces US plots to overthrow Maduro

The US State Department is at it again, supporting attempts to overturn the results of the Venezuelan election and plotting against the United Socialist Party government.

The election held following the death of Hugo Chavez was won by vice-president Nicolas Maduro. But US secretary of state John Kerry is supporting opposition calls for a recount.

As soon as the result was announced, opposition candidate Henrique Capriles presented a series of claims of fraud to the electoral commission. Maduro agreed to a recount, but the electoral commission turned Capriles down. Analysis shows that all the claims he made were entirely false.

In fact, it is virtually impossible to rig a Venezuelan election (unlike in the United States where George Bush was gerrymandered into power by election fraud courtesy of “hanging chads” and the Supreme Court).

There are no "hanging chads" in Venezuela which has a bang up-to-date touch screen voting system. The voter touches the screen to record their vote electronically and then gets a paper receipt which they verify and put in a ballot box.

The electronic tally is then compared with the paper ballot. To rig the result you would have to first somehow hack into the central computer of the electoral commission and then interfere with the paper ballots to make sure they matched.

The fact that his claims were shown to be false didn't stop Capriles appealing to the Supreme Court, which also turned him down. The court's president said the request was nothing more than "a deceit of the people" aimed at destabilising the country.

Seven government supporters have been killed and 60 injured in demonstrations and semi-riots organised by the opposition. Maduro has now publicly voiced his view that the United States and the opposition are planning a rerun of the 2000 coup attempt to topple Chavez.

So just how close is this election result? Well not as close as the one that gave Kerry his chance at the State Department.

Maduro won 50.66% of the vote on a turnout of 78% of the electorate. In the 2012 US election Obama won 51.1% of the vote on a turnout of 57.5%.  Some 93 million eligible Americans did not vote. So which leader has a stronger mandate?

In Venezuela, 97% of eligible voters are on the register whereas in the US a dozen states have been pushing through laws on identity, birth certificates and education, specifically designed to deprive poor voters of their rights.

The US embassy in Caracas is full of CIA spooks and agents provocateurs, as was proved by State Department cables published on Wikileaks. One cable sent in November 2006 details how dozens of non-government organisations (NGOs) were financially maintained by the US government-funded Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI).

This included “over 300 Venezuelan civil society organizations”, ranging from disability advocates to education programs. All very well-intentioned you might think.

However the real purpose was revealed by then-US ambassador to Venezuela William Brownfield as “penetrating Chavez’s political base... dividing Chavismo... protecting vital US business ...[and] isolating Chavez internationally”. The strategic objective was to develop "opposition-aligned civil society organisations".

So far Capriles is the closest the US has got to achieving this. He is a relatively astute, Columbia University-educated tax lawyer who comes from a wealthy family. He has recognised that there is no way to win elections on a platform of dismantling the social and political achievements of the Chavez era, so he claims he will continue them.

His main target is Venezuela's oil and other resources, which he would make “more efficient” by transferring them to the private sector and opening them up to exploitation by the big oil corporations.

Although the Wikileaks cable refers to a period when George W. Bush was in the White House, there can be little doubt that the Obama administration’s reactionary foreign policy continues his predecessor’s policy of destabilisation. For Washington, democracy is alright – unless you don’t get the result you want.

Penny Cole

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