The first country I want to discuss had a presidential election in 2016. The person declared the winner lost by nearly three million votes.
Just over half the eligible voters voted and the winner got less than half those voted – around 25% of all eligible voters.
The truth is that this is the second election in the last few decades when the losing candidate was declared the winner. It happened in 2000.
No government or world leader criticised those elections. No one said it was undemocratic, though, clearly it was.
This country is called the United States of America. It’s President is Donald Trump.
He was chosen by an Electoral College made of representatives of States equivalent to the 435 members of the House of Representatives and 100 Senators plus three from the District of Colombia. 538 in total. The election chooses those representatives, but the numbers are weighted towards smaller, less populous states.
Most people in this country want their president elected by popular vote but they are not allowed.
In the second country, the election attracted just under half the eligible voters, similar to the United States. The winner got 68% of the vote against 6 other candidates. He was supported by over 30% of eligible voters compared to just 25% for the winning candidate in the United States.
The United States had encouraged opponents of the winning candidate to boycott the election to undermine its legitimacy. However, a major opposition figure did run and got 20% of the vote. He would have got more if the boycott had not happened. But voters had a clear choice and millions voted for the winning candidate.
The winning candidate in the second country is Nicholas Maduro, the elected President of Venezuela. His election has been hypocritically criticised by the US President and his allies around the world. Unfortunately, this includes New Zealand.
His country has been attacked and subject to sanctions. They are trying to “make the economy scream” to use the words of Henry Kissinger, the former secretary of State in the United States just prior to the military coup in Chile in 1973 shortly after another socialist was elected there.
This coup was followed by decades of coups, military regimes, and death squads being given free rein in country after country at the behest of the US government. Hundreds of thousands of people were killed to make Latin America “safe” for US companies to exploit at their pleasure. Chile, Brazil, Argentina, Guatemala, Bolivia, El Salvador, Colombia, Honduras and Nicaragua had crimes against humanity inflicted on them.
One of the architects of that policy under former US President Reagan and Bush, Elliot Abrams, has been appointed to by Trump to run the campaign against Venezuela today. Abrams is a right-wing hawk who was convicted in 1991 for lying to Congress during the Iran-Contra scandal, but he was later pardoned. Abrams defended Guatemalan dictator General Efraín Ríos Montt as he oversaw a campaign of mass murder and torture of indigenous people in Guatemala in the 1980s. Ríos Montt was later convicted of genocide. Abrams was also linked to the 2002 coup in Venezuela that attempted to topple Hugo Chávez. He has the blood of hundreds of thousands on his hands. It is a sick joke to say this man is concerned about democracy.
We cannot allow the US empire to achieve their coup plans in Venezuela. We must oppose all foreign military intervention. We must demand an end to all sanctions.
We cannot allow the US empire to create another graveyard of popular hopes for freedom and independence in Venezuela today.