US-backed coup fails in Venezuela
By Yusuf Fernandez
A US-sponsored soft coup against the Venezuela´s government and the recently-elected President Nicolas Maduro failed after Venezuelan authorities and people successfully contained the wave of violence unleashed against pro-government activists, eight of whom were brutally murdered on April 15, on a night of extreme violence, by an angry mobs of followers of Henrique Capriles Randoski, a pro-US right-wing politician who is currently governor of the state of Miranda.
The headquarters of the ruling party, the PSUV, in some cities were burned or attacked. Opposition activists also set fire to 18 Central Diagnostic Centres (CDIs - health centers), and three subsidized food markets (Mercals). Groups of thugs attacked the house of the director of the Electoral National Council (CNE), Tibisay Lucena, and the offices of two TV channels, Telesur and VTV.
The defeated candidate refused to recognize Maduro´s victory and called for a march to reach the CNE headquarters in Caracas and for a general strike the following day. However, shortly after he called off the march and the general strike became a failure because both workers and students just ignored it.
Capriles lost the election by a bit more than 250.000 votes and demanded a recount of votes, although he was unable to present any real evidence of a possible electoral fraud. He only gave one example of vote irregularities but it turned out to be false. He said that at a voting center in the state of Trujillo the number of voters was 536, but that a total of 717 votes were tallied. However, CNE´s results for this voting center show that only 369 votes were tallied, not 717.
In reality, Venezuelan electoral system has been praised for its transparency and accuracy. In October, Jimmy Carter said, “Election process in Venezuela is the best in the world”. Despite all this, on April 19 the National Electoral Council (CNE), Tibisay Lucena, agreed to count the 100 percent of the votes.
For his part, new President Nicolas Maduro warned the right-wing circles fomenting violent protests that they would be held responsible before the law. He also blamed Capriles for the eight murders of members of the PSUV.
Maduro said that violence was part of a plan “to take Venezuela off the road of democracy” and called on his followers to remain peaceful and not “fall for provocations”.
He also declared “the coup d’état defeated” but added that the “destabilizations could continue”.
The Venezuelan President also accused the US Embassy in Caracas of promoting the incidents.
“The US Embassy has funded the violence here. The Pentagon, the US Department of State and the CIA are those who rule the United States. Here in Venezuela, it is the people who do it”.
He added that the US intervention in Venezuelan internal affairs in recent months, and particularly during the election campaign, had been “brutal and vulgar... Its direct coordination with the oligarchs has been truly obscene”.
According to many media, Venezuelan opposition has been receiving money and other support from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the International Republican Institute (IRI), USAID and several US-backed NGOs. Some media have also claimed that Capriles plans his electoral strategies with US political consultants.
One month before the elections, Roberta Jacobson, US Assistant Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere, said in an interview with the Spanish newspaper El Paيs, known by its hostility towards the Bolivarian Revolution, that “it will be a little difficult” for Venezuela's elections to be “clean and transparent” adding that “Capriles could be a very good president”. Venezuela, for its part, rejected US criticism against its electoral system. “Statements from US officials are part of a long campaign to discredit Venezuelan institutions,” said a senior official with the National Electoral Council (CNE).
The Obama administration has also refused to recognize Nicolas Maduro as President. Testifying before Congress, Secretary of State John Kerry backed Capriles´s call for a vote recount. He also warned that if it was found that there were irregularities during the electoral process, as reported by the opposition, Washington would require “serious explanations” to the Venezuelan government. For her part, Cuban-born and extremist Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen urged Kerry not to legitimize the “corrupt policies of a loyal to Chavez,” referring to Maduro.
Actually, the US calls for a recount were a rude interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign state and an open support for the right-wing candidate, who, Washington hoped, should put an end to Venezuelan independent foreign policies and revolutionary social and economic policies, which have resulted in a steep decline of poverty and illiteracy rates in the country.
Furthermore, the US stance on the Venezuelan election is a blatant example of hypocrisy. The US 2000 presidential election is a good example of it. In 2001, two studies -one conducted by the Washington Post and the other by Tribune Co., the owner of the Chicago Tribune and other newspapers- confirmed that Democrat Al Gore won the election in Florida by about 30,000 votes and George W. Bush lost. However, Bush was installed as president after an unprecedented and anti-democratic intervention by the US Supreme Court. These studies were mostly ignored by US media, except for the newspapers that commissioned them.
Latin America supports Maduro
However, Washington has become isolated once again with its policies towards Venezuela both in the Latin American and international context. Countries like Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Costa Rica, Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Guatemala, China, Russia and Iran have publicly expressed support for the President Nicolas Maduro.
The government of Ecuador, for example, said that free and democratic elections in Venezuela should be respected and that the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) “will not tolerate a coup” in that country, or anywhere else in the region.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that “all independent agencies that monitored the electoral process have legitimized it”, including UNASUR, the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), the Central American Parliament (PARLACEN) and the Inter American Union of Electoral Organisms (UNIORE), among others. The Ministry pointed out that “request by the US and the US-controlled Organization of American States” was “out of place” and constituted a “simple intrusion” in Venezuela´s internal affairs. “Latin American brothers will not allow Venezuela´s borders to be violated,” the statement added.
Bolivia´s President Evo Morales accused the United States of being planning to stage a coup in Venezuela and condemned Washington´s questioning of the Venezuelan presidential election results as interference.
“I am certain that behind those remarks, the United States is preparing a coup d’état in Venezuela”, said Morales. “I would like to express that this (US demand for a recount) is a flagrant US interference in Venezuela’s democracy, as neither that US spokesperson nor the US government have moral authority to question electoral results in any Latin American country or around the world.”
Former Brazilian President, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, also called the US government’s position to request a recount “an act of interference”. “Americans should mind their own business and let us choose our destiny”, said Lula, who congratulated Maduro in Belo Horizonte, a city that is located in the heart of Brazil. He appeared next to the current president, Dilma Rousseff, in a meeting that celebrated the tenth anniversary of the coming to power of the Workers Party (PT). Significantly, the crowd burst into applause when Lula referred to Maduro, echoing a popular sentiment that is widespread across Latin America. For her part, Rousseff telephoned Maduro, congratulated him and told him that she was “ready to work together.”
Actually, Latin American countries are conscious that Venezuela is still the epicenter of the fight for Latin America´s integration and independence from the United States. Maduro was a key figure in this process for the six years in which he occupied the post of foreign minister. From that position, he became one of the promoters of the new Latin American blocks, such as Petrocaribe, ALBA, UNASUR or CELAC and actively worked for a new multipolar world order.
Therefore, US maneuvers against Venezuela have backfired. Venezuelans consider that Washington´s hostile actions and double-standards - criticizing a country´s transparent electoral system while backing unelected usurpers - against Venezuela represented one more reason to cast a ballot in favor of Maduro. Moreover, overwhelming support for Maduro from throughout Latin American and Venezuela itself will undoubtedly lead US plans to oust him and put an end to the Bolivarian Revolution to another resounding failure.