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A tale of two elections

By   /  January 29, 2019  /  25 Comments

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We cannot allow the US empire to create another graveyard of popular hopes for freedom and independence in Venezuela today.

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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.

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About the author

Mike Treen

National Director of Unite Union


  1. jay11 says:

    Looks like Venezuela could use a little freedom

    Q: What the heck is happening in Venezuela?

    A: They have large oil reserves so we sabotaged their economy with sanctions, blamed its collapse on socialism, then staged a coup for regime change. You know…the usual.

    What is particularly despicable is the U$’s vassal states Britain Germany and others joining in with their prestitute media lying and distorting who is the genuine leader of Venezuela.

    Trump administration slaps sanctions on Venezuela’s state-own oil company and freezes its cash in bid to force out ‘ex-president’ Maduro

    Administration is hitting state-owned oil company of Venezuela with sanctions
    Oil purchases may continue but funds will go into blocked accounts
    Called ‘vehicle for embezzlement’ for Maduro government
    Deciding how and when funds can be available to opposition Juan Guaido
    Venezuelan exports to the U.S. have been dropping
    South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham says Trump asked about military option
    Says he advised the president it could be ‘problematic’
    Trump is ‘very hawkish’ on Venezuela, according to Graham
    Conversation came after Trump said the U.S. would recognize Maduro opposition
    Opposition leader Juan Guaido is calling for new protests


  2. Jody says:

    What should we at the grassroots do to show their support for countries such as Venezuela Mike? (I say countries because America and it’s allies continue these disgusting, hypocritical, psychopathic interventions globally, intent on making money or testing weapons or spreading disease and blackface). I have donated to reputable news sources in the first instance deciding the public needs to be aware and accurately informed of global politics, warts and all (sadly the main stream media does not fulfil the role of true journalism anymore). Is there something more direct the average citizen could do?

  3. Johnnybg says:

    OIL ~ oil & more lovely oil ~ black gold rules. Don’t you just love the smell of napalm in the morning.

  4. Draco T Bastard says:

    So, yes, the US should be keeping out of other countries governance. They certainly don’t like other countries even having a hint of influence in theirs after all.

    The crisis in Venezuela and its lessons for the left

    “A gang of thieves”

    At the crux of Venezuela’s crisis is the currency control system, which began under Hugo Chavez as a way to restrict access to foreign exchange and ensure enough dollars to import priority goods.

    Like previous attempts at fixed exchange rates, there was some corruption and abuse of this system. But it wasn’t until Maduro came to power in 2013 that things really started falling apart.

    “A gang was created that was only interested in getting their hands on the oil revenue,” says Hector Navarro, former Chavista minister and socialist party leader.

    “They are thieves with no ideology,” he added.

    Chavez’s former finance minister, Jorge Giordani, has said the same thing, estimating that some $300 billion have been embezzled in this way. Navarro and Giordani were long time members of Chavez’s inner circle and mainstays of his cabinet until they became critical of Maduro in 2014 and were sacked.

    But we should also be looking at the people in power in those countries and what they’re doing that enriches themselves while doing untold damage to their country.

  5. Matthew says:

    This is a subject that non-Venezuelan socialists often offer opinion upon. Maduro only one the last election because the opposition boycotted it, and when you have the military backing, voting against power is dangerous. The blind defence of corrupt dictators because they call themselves socialists in not helpful to the cause. Maduro has overseen the internal destruction of a country that made some progress under Chavez, but nothing close to the promise of rhetoric. For some reasons these pretenders have chosen to attempt to emulate Guevara and Castro, with impressive speeches, but the modern versions have not backed up the blah blah with action. Venezuela is a country destroyed, and change is necessary to begin reconstruction. No the US is not the answer, it never was, and never will be, and certainly the dictatorship loving Macri and Bolsonaro are scarier enough in their own countries, let alone meddling in another. However Maduro must go, he continues to insult his people, has grown physically obese, while most of the country (those without military connections) have been pushed toward starvation, and even the so called slums of Chavez realise that Maduro has lost the plot, if he ever had it at all. He is a blight on socialism and only give ammunition to the ignorant neo liberals and alt right who will jump on any suggestion of leftism to demonstrate its faults. Neoliberalism is to blame for all of this, the commodification of life, that means people can only think of themselves, and their own survival, thus destroying socialism by stealth. And stop comparing 1973 to this, 1973 might have killed any chance that Latin America had, although I think the assassination of Che Guevara was just as devastating. Venezuela is broken, 10% of the population have evacuated, people rely on external resources to buy food and other necessaries. A true socialist would never allow that to happen, not with the wealth of a country such as Venezuela.

    • Sam Sam says:

      Certainly seen loads of lies peddled about Venezuela. It’s being thrown around as “proof” of the innate evil and destructiveness of “socialism.” As said though, it’s about stupidity and power lust not socialism. If it was about socialism then Venezuela wouldn’t stand out so much.

      What’s in Venezuelans favour is they have the largest oil reserves, larger than Saudi Arabia, it’s just offshore, and America will do anything to get it, and Maduro or any other PSUV member with even half a brain won’t let America have any of it for free.

      One thing people forget is Venezuelans where extremely poor before the PSUV came to power under Chaves. Did you guys learn nothing from Trump and BREXIT?

      It’s just tired old rhetoric peddled to low-intellects about the evils of the buzzword “socialism.”

      Also, fuck Jordan Petersons Analysis of socialism.

      • Nick J says:

        Sam, agreed until you brought Jordan Peterson into it. He is wrong about Venezuela, and he is right about socialism of the extreme variety.

        Peterson has spent years trying to get to the bottom of factual empirical evidence about fascist and socialist regimes. He points to the psychological reason why communist regimes matched fascist regimes for blood letting and evil. Can’t deny the evidence.

        What he also says if you care to listen is the need for balance, yin yang in all cultural archetypes. He sees social democratic parties as necessary to balance the excesses of capitalist parties.

        If there is one thing you can learn from Peterson it is human fallibility, he is a good example. But you can also cherry pick his undoubted wisdom, especially his injunction against ideological possession.

      • Sam Sam says:

        Nick, this reply is probably going to be long. I think that concepts of ideological possession, and by that I mean a range of thinking from Karl Marx to Melton Friedman are largely correct and is the natural progression of classic liberalism to advanced technological societies. In contrast the ideology of state socialism and state capitalism and what has become of the modern welfare state are dominant in modern societies. But I believe these are regressive and highly inadequate social theories and a large number of today’s society Genesis from the inappropriateness and incompatibility of state ideology to modern technological society.

        It’s interesting that Peterson’s critique of state socialism in my opinion resembles closely the libertarian doctrine of the anarchist. In particular and its principle that the state must disappear and be replaced by an industrious organisation of society in the course an intellectual revolution. What Jordan Peterson is putting in place of the state, is intellectual organisation and many many other comments by Peterson, that in and of its self is the fundamental meaning of anarchism and other state revolutionaries. What’s more important than many of Jordan Peterson’s statements about anarchist revolution is that these ideas have been realised in many revolutionary actions. For example in 1936 in Germany and Italy just before the war, that intellectual organisation in the sense of the long rant I just gave is the natural form of revolutionary socialism and the foundation of any advanced society. It reflects that democracy is a shame when the industrial capacity is controlled by any form of autocratic elite whether owners, managers, intellectuals, party elites or what ever.

        Under these conditions of authoritarian rule the classical doctrine of true classical libertarian revolution can not be realised. So man will not be able to innovate and invest and the worker will remain a fragment of a human being. Degraded to a tool in the productive process directed from above. The ideas of revolution in this sense has been submerged in industrial societies for the past century. The dominant ideologies have been state socialism and state capitalism.

        Both the Tax Working Group and The Future of Work panel lead by Jim Bolger have emerged as important force recently which include the most powerful trade unions and is taking the profiles of revolution as its fundamental ideas producing a series of leaks that’s been interesting. Around the pacific and particularly in Papua New Genie and West Papua they are particularly interested in those ideas and other forms of revolutionary development as it did in New Zealand and England.

        Given the general conservative cast of Jordan Peterson’s ideological society it is surprising that Canada is largely untouched by these ideological currents, but that to may change. The erosion of the Cold War mentality and warmongering in general at least make it possible to discuss some of these questions. And if the present wave of repression can be beaten back, and if the left can overcome its more suicidal tendencies and build on the achievements of the past 16 months. The problem of building truly advance technological societies along truly democratic lines with democratic controls in the workplace as well as in the community should become the dominant intellectual issue for those who are alive to the fact society has contemporary problems. And as the mass movement of socialist revolutionary action continues to build, as I hope it will. Speculation will proceed into action. The idea being that the state and capitalists must be forced to work together.

        Adam Smith along with any decent human being, with even half a brain is against interference when it benefits the invisible hand of the masters. Those that like to invoke Adam Smith and the history that they’ve concocted is opposed to basic class liberalisation and it’s kind of sad that a lot of young people would be attracted to the kind of investment from abroad that Peterson’s finances is structured around. Very few of Peterson’s followers have a commitment to Canada as if by an invisible hand they keep to the less profitable aspects of industrialisation and Canada will be saved by the ravages of what may be called neoliberal globalisation.

        Jordan Peterson is motivated by his natural sympathy for other people so Peterson will make sure that his ideas and the necessities of intellectual life will be distributed equitably to the people in his email list ending up in a just distribution of wealth as if by an invisible hand. Just compare that with what you’re taught in school or what comes across your news feed. So if we pursue this division between the male dominated aspects of Jordan Peterson’s social media platforms then people will just repeat the same mechanical operations over and over. They’ll be de-skilled, they won’t know how to keep a girlfriend, knowledge won’t be transferable from industry to industry and every entry level job will require applicants to have 10 years experience. That’s the goal of management for the last 100 years and that’s what will happen if men and woman are divided. It’ll just create a group of people who are unskilled and as stupid as it is possible to be. There for in any civilised society the government will have intervene when division is pursued willingly or unwillingly.

        So now The United States of America now has the tools to reject the rules of sound economics and any other country that is poised for industrial revolution is given the same divisions and the same advice as Venezuela, in fact Venezuelan oil is poised for industrial revolution and it’s not impossible that American think tanks and lobbyists understand this and want to control Venezuelan oil for fear of losing the status as world reserve currency and Venezuela doesn’t need cotton plantations and slaves to develop into an advanced technological society and the Whitehouse just can’t let that happen.

        But if you understand the principles then technological development can proceed in place of industrial development. New Zealand for example is not free to reject sound economics. We have a city that requires light rail and road infrastructure that is maxed out so the accumulation of mistakes is forcing us to become a better society, always better. Making mistakes will give you a good sense of public attitude towards the capacity to fixing those mistakes. And the results are all over the place on news, social media, academia or where ever. 80% of the population agree that the poorest 50% are literally disenfranchised and there opinions have no effect what so ever and elected representatives pay little to no attention to them so many people don’t bother voting.

        So for instance you’ve got Willie Jackson, a force for the poor and that’s a fact. But ask any of the poor what they actually want and it’s to legalise cannabis. But Willie is the minister for employment and the rest of the Māori caucus are dead set against legalisation so very little attention is payed to the poor. So we’ve basically got 2 rich guys at the top setting policy. That’s not as Jordan Peterson would describe New Zealand as. Jordan Peterson would describe New Zealand as an egalitarian/socialists/feminatzi/twitterbots backward social justice melting pot hell hole, instead of an autocratic society. The good thing about it is that we can change it because in New Zealand these things are not controlled by force. We are surveilled but we just don’t have the gun culture of other industrialised societies and New Zealand is very free in that respect thanks to victories, so it’s not possible to do a Parehaka or Bastion point any more or what other great pacifists do. That gives us a lot of options that have to be made use of.

        • Nick J says:

          Sam, yes that’s a very long and confusing reply, theres some ground there I’m gonna have to read a few more times. Peterson the anarchist, now that’s one I’m going to test drive. Meanwhile have we got any further with Peterson’s core critique of revolutionary socialism as inclined towards extreme coercion and murder? I listened to an audiobook of the Gulag Archipelago, there’s all the empirical evidence I need.

        • Sam Sam says:

          That’s just Jordan Peterson’s Plot demanding that class warfare gets astronomically more murderous over time. That only makes sense if you ignore 99% of the 200,000 years of human history.

          Doesn’t matter what system it is. When you’ve got one or two guys at the top controlling everything you’re going to get great suffering. And I’d argue the imperial evidence is weighted against organisation of the masses. Peterson even states himself that every one is descended from peasants who are tortured in one form or another. Only Peterson goes on to state that the greatest clusters of misery orbit around the philosophy of equal opportunity of outcome and that’s wrong, it orbits around arse holes.

          This isn’t really like the best argument but I believe that finding a decent dictator or monarch is pot luck. Consider that 90% of decision makers screw up 90% of the time with in 90 days of assuming office, and 10% of every one who are elected officials go on to be decent leaders / entrepreneurs ect. Those percentages still apply to the hand full of dictators and monarchs that have emerged in the last 10,000 years or so since agriculture was invented, relative to 200,000 years of human history.

          Using empirical evidence to prove that lower order chieftains (chieftains in the since of the basic building blocks of society so one above the family unit but just below a regional council so like a tribe) to skip over the events of human history and then stating that the animal kingdom and animal biology can be used as filler for this vague period of 200,000 years of human history. That’s religious in its very nature. So it’s like is it for both and I’m like yeah, technically you could come up with an argument that the Neanderthal is evolutionary superior to homo sapien only I’d point out the one flaw in that argument that the Neanderthal went extinct. So technically, humanity neither uses evolutionary biology or wisdom and logic, technically we are using both.

          So obviously socialism is relative to capitalism and promotional guides are trying to say that capitalism is better than socialism. So if you want to go by narrative then Russia Stronk, many missile comrade and U.S.A. Missile defence shield Stronk, many missiles shot down sir. So if you want to go off that then Russia would lose in this case but y’know narrative and promotional info isn’t the best, y’know? Concede.

  6. G.A.P. says:

    So those mass murdering warmongering scumbags are at it again, attempting to install a puppet leader in a sovereign country with the sole intention of raping and pillaging that nations resources. If these lying assholes really gave a fuck about oppressed peoples they would have spent the last decades invading country’s like Zimbabwe, Israel for perching on Palestinian land, saudi arabia, all the other South American country’s where they have supported murderous dictators and war lords ad infinitum. What really worries me, is not so much the diatribes from pomposity, burton etc. i expect that from the gang, but the way a large part of the world has been only to eager to line up, bend over and wait to please the master. Maybe they think they could be next in line if dissenting? I must say i have been quite impressed with Peters statements that the problems are Venezuela’s to decide, but unfortunately i can not see that lasting, and that nu zild will soon shuffle in to line and bend over. Please if one more person mentions democracy i will throw up.

  7. G.A.P. says:

    Obviously meant bolton, wtf. happened to the edit facility?

  8. Spoon says:

    It’s going to be a rough ride for Venezuela.

  9. Spikeyboy says:

    Alfred de Zayas who is a former secretary of the UNHRC says in his special report on Venezuela that economic sanctions are the modern and far more potent equivalent of the ancient laying siege to a city. More potent becausethey attempt and often succeed in bringing a whole nation to its knees. So just as with a siege people starve and die through lack of essential supplies. Many people attempt to leave. Its a bit lame then to heap the blame on Maduro who as Mike says won a free and largely fair election. It was monitored and given the green light. Funny that Venezuela has the greatest reserves of oil of any nation. Through what power does the USA get to claim it as theirs. Only through the power of their military as it has always been. No amount of spin will change the fact that it all boils down to we want to exploit you and your resources.




    • Draco T Bastard says:

      Through what power does the USA get to claim it as theirs. Only through the power of their military as it has always been. No amount of spin will change the fact that it all boils down to we want to exploit you and your resources.

      That has always been the way of empires and when other nations start to realise that the empire isn’t as powerful as it says, that its military can’t really project power the way that they believed then that empire starts to collapse.

      And when that happens the empire gets surly and dangerous as the rest of the world starts to ignore it.

  10. Draco T Bastard says:


    The choice of Abrams sends a clear message to Venezuela and the world: The Trump administration intends to brutalize Venezuela, while producing a stream of unctuous rhetoric about America’s love for democracy and human rights. Combining these two factors — the brutality and the unctuousness — is Abrams’s core competency.

    The US rulers hate democracy. Always have done. In fact, their ‘democracy’ was actually designed by the ‘Founding Fathers’ to prevent it. They actually wanted to make the US an aristocracy but realised that the armed peasants that had just won the revolution weren’t going to stand for that sort of BS and so they designed a democracy that would leave rich people in power, that could ignore the will of the people.

    I suspect that they want the same thing for Venezuela and the rest of the world.

  11. Marc says:

    Comparing apples with pears it seems, Mike Treen clings to the Bolivarian Revolution, but fails to realise that Maduro was a poor choice as leader, and lacks skill, integrity and charisma.

    Add wide spread corruption, incompetence, and endless failures to transform the Venezuelan economy by diversification and collective enterprise in a pragmatic and effective manner, the result is damning.

    Only idiots defend Maduro, the best solution is what Mexico’s president and the Uruguayan leader/s have proposed.

    But it is too late now, the momentum has turned against the regime in Caracas, Maduro has lost all credibility and will have to go into exile soon.

    Hugo Chavez will turn in his grave, I hear him rumble.

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