The Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela won a resounding victory in the regional elections of October 15. The United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV for its initials in Spanish) won 17 state governorships; two opposition parties, Democratic Action and Justice First, won five; and one contest is undecided. PSUV candidates received 54% of the total votes cast. Voter participation was 61%, the highest in the nation’s history for regional elections, and significantly higher than the 54% attained in the regional elections of 2012.
Since the 1999 Constitution established the Fifth Republic, Venezuela, reacting to the previous system of fraudulent elections, has developed transparent and fair elections. Indeed, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter has called them the best in the world. The elections are managed by the Electoral National Council, an entity that is separate and autonomous from the other governmental branches. The more than thirteen thousand electoral centers in the country are equipped with advanced technology, making possible a system of automated voting. In the October 15 regional elections, 18,099,391 citizens voted in 13,559 electoral centers, equipped with 30,274 voting machines. More than 1500 experts observed the process; international observers, including the Council of Electoral Experts of Latin America (Ceela for its initials in Spanish), certified the elections as fair and legitimate.
Since the election of Hugo Chávez in 1998, twenty-two elections and referenda have been held, and the Chavistas have won all but two of them. That the governing Chavistas accepted the two losses (the 2007 referendum on proposed constitutional amendments and the 2015 parliamentary elections) is itself a confirmation of the democratic character of the Venezuelan electoral process since 1999; as is known, dictators do not lose elections.
The results of the October 15 regional elections indicate a revitalization of the Bolivarian revolutionary process. Taking advantage of the death of Hugo Chávez in 2013 and a dramatic fall of Venezuelan oil revenue as a result of the decline of oil prices in 2014, the Venezuelan opposition escalated its efforts to destabilize the country, intending to provoke a U.S. intervention that would be favorable to its particular interests. The opposition launched an economic war, using its control of commerce to reduce the supply of necessary goods, thus generating shortages and rampant inflation. And it launched a media campaign against the government, using its ownership of the media of communication, blaming the government for the economic difficulties, accusing the government of corruption, and presenting a false international image of the government as repressive. Some sectors of the opposition also have established and supported violent gangs, which have attacked government centers and supporters of the Chavist revolution. These strategies were successful in generating confusion among the people, and they enabled opposition candidates to attain a majority in the parliamentary elections of December 2015. However, the opposition arrived to a parliamentary majority without a politically viable platform. It seeks to restore neoliberal policies and to reestablish an economy that is subordinate to the interests of the United States and transnational capital. Such a platform cannot be presented to the people, inasmuch as a majority has rejected such an approach since the 1990s, having experienced its negative consequences. As a result, rather that presenting an alternative political project through its parliamentary majority, the opposition has escalated its destabilization tactics, and it has sought the removal from office of constitutionally elected President Nicolás Maduro.
Maduro was handpicked by Chávez to be his successor, and he was elected to the presidency in 2013 as the first worker president in Venezuelan history and the first “Chavist” president. He has responded to the opposition efforts at destabilization by constantly exhorting the people to support and defend the Chavist revolution and by persistently maintaining that all political disagreements should be resolved through peaceful means and without foreign interference. Earlier this year, Maduro convoked a new Constitutional Assembly. This appears to have been a successful tactic, as the Chavistas were able to enlist significantly more votes for the election of delegates to the assembly than was the opposition for support of an informal referendum against a constitutional assembly. In addition, decrees issued by the Constitutional Assembly appear to be a stabilizing factor. The Chavist victory in the October 16 regional elections may be a further indication of a retaking of momentum by the Chavist revolution, containing the post-2013 counterattack of the Right.
Unable to accept defeat, the opposition is claiming electoral fraud. The international news media (owned by transnational corporations, principally based in the United States) are active participants in the destabilizing campaign against the government of Venezuela, in violation of the principle of non-interference in the affairs of nations. Given the distorted image of Venezuela that they seek to present, their reporting on the regional elections has focused on the claims of election fraud by the opposition. They ignore fundamental facts with respect to the Venezuelan electoral process since 1999, preying upon the state of ignorance among the English-speaking peoples of the North with respect to Venezuela and Latin America.
Since the attainment of a parliamentary majority by the opposition in December 2015, I have believed that ultimately the people would reject the opposition, because as a parliamentary majority, its incapacity to formulate an alternative national project, and its disregard for the needs of the people and the good of the nation, would stand exposed for all to see. Perhaps this view is confirmed by the results of the regional elections of October 15, 2017.
I have a similar view with respect to current dynamics in Argentina, Brazil, and Ecuador. Electoral games and ideological distortions, if cleverly done, can confuse some of the people for a time. But if the people are presented by a viable national project that seeks social justice, national sovereignty, and a sustainable world-system, a majority will reject the betrayal of the people and the nation in pursuit of particular interests.
For further information on the Chavist revolution in Venezuela, see Chávez and the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela. For more posts on Venezuela, in the category Venezuela, scroll down.
P.S. On October 18, the Electoral National Council confirmed the Chavist candidate as winner in the elections in the state of Bolívar, bringing to eighteen the number of Chavist governors in the twenty-three states of Venezuela (October 20, 2017).