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Sun Dec 6, 2015, 11:41 AM

A Tale of Two Elections

A Tale of Two Elections

Venezuelans will vote today in fair and transparent elections. But you wouldn’t know it from the US government and media.

by Keane Bhatt

Electoral observers who cover Latin America and the Caribbean see the threat of “systematic, massive fraud” in upcoming elections in a country of longstanding strategic concern to the United States. They argue that “incidents of violence, fraud and voter intimidation” have created a process that falls “far short of minimum standards for fair elections.” The president has been ruling by decree for almost a year, fulfilling a promise articulated in 1997: “First thing, after I establish my power . . . I would close that congress thing.”

A group of leading opposition candidates recently stated that they are “convinced that honest, free, transparent and democratic elections cannot be obtained under the presidency,” citing “reprisals and repression by police against peaceful demonstrators” that left two candidates injured.

The United States isn’t too worried about the state of affairs. In fact, it’s invested nearly $30 million dollars in the elections. After all, this isn’t Venezuela; it’s Haiti. Contrary to the distorted portrayals of Venezuela repeatedly put forth by the media, think tanks, and the US government, the country’s electoral processes couldn’t be more different than Haiti’s. In Haiti’s October 25 presidential primary, over 70 percent of registered voters abstained, just as they did in 2010 for the flawed elections that brought Michel Martelly to power.

Venezuela’s elections routinely produce the opposite result: 79.7 percent of the electorate voted in the 2013 presidential contest, and even its subsequent municipal elections boasted a 58.9 percent participation rate. Polls regarding today’s legislative elections indicate an expected voter turnout of above 70 percent, suggesting that the Venezuelan electorate appears stubbornly unaffected by the “campaigns of fear, violence, and intimidation” that State Department spokesperson John Kirby alleges are occurring.


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