Tolpuddle 2018
21/08/2018
East Midlands branch host impressive professional conference
21/08/2018

Venezuela votes

Members may be aware that Napo is affiliated to the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign (VSC). They are a peaceful campaigning group who are against external intervention and support self-determination for Venezuela and the other nations of Latin America. One of our carried AGM Motions in 2017 was to continue to support the VSC and as part of this instruction we regularly update members on the situation in Venezuela.

Unfortunately, since his election, president Trump has introduced unilateral US sanctions against Venezuela, and Rex Tillerson, US secretary of state until March 2018, made it clear that the US will seek to oust socialist president Maduro from office. In May 2018 US vice president Pence announced further sanctions and told the 35-nation Organization of American States – which includes Venezuela as a member – that they needed to take greater steps to isolate Maduro.

These sanctions do not help the Venezuelan people or facilitate dialogue but cause hardship and exacerbate the country’s difficulties.

On 20 May 2018, Venezuela held presidential elections as well as the election of local state legislative assemblies. There were five presidential candidates contesting the presidency, the most important of whom, by their electoral and political weight, were Nicolas Maduro for the governing coalition the Grand Patriotic Pole; Henri Falcon, for a coalition of some opposition parties, and Javier Bertucci, a Pentecostal pastor candidate of Esperanza por el Cambio.

International observers including those from the EU were invited to oversee the election. The EU declined to send observers. However, after the elections the EU released a statement claiming that:
“Major obstacles to the participation of opposition political parties and their leaders, an unbalanced composition of the National Electoral Council, biased electoral conditions, numerous reported irregularities during the Election Day, including vote buying, stood in the way of fair and equitable elections.”

These claims have been refuted by the 100 or so international observers who were actually present throughout the election period. As stated in a letter to the EU responding to the allegations, Jeremy Fox a journalist and writer, Joseph Farrell, from the Board of the Centre for Investigative Journalism, journalist Calvin Tucker and Dr Francisco Dominguez from the Department of Latin American Studies
at Middlesex University, stated that: “We were unanimous in concluding that the elections were conducted fairly, that the election conditions were not biased, that genuine irregularities were exceptionally few and of a very minor nature.”

They also noted that: “the claims in your press release are fabrications of the most disgraceful kind, based on hearsay and not on evidence and unworthy of the EU”.

The election results (with a turnout of 46%) were Nicolas Maduro 68% (6,190,612 votes), Henri Falcon 21% (1,917,036 votes), and Javier Bertucci 11% (988,761 votes).

The VSC Secretary Dr Francisco Dominguez notes that the experts and observers overseeing the election have called on all parties involved to accept the election results and to respect the sovereign decision of the Venezuelan people expressed in the ballot box. He also notes that Venezuela has the largest reserves of oil in the world.

Could this possibly be a factor in the ongoing criticism of and sanctions imposed on Venezuela by the US and also by the EU?

For further information on how you can support the Campaign go to http://www.venezuelasolidarity.co.uk/

Tina Williams
Vice Chair – Probation

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