Obama must stand firm on Venezuela

| Friday, April 19th, 2013 | 1 Comment »

Jose CardenasAfter an ill-advised overture to Hugo Chávez’s government last November, the Obama administration has regained its footing with a strong, principled stance on Venezuela’s contested election. Based on the razor-thin margin and opposition protests of irregularities, the administration has yet to recognize as the winner Vice President Nicolas Maduro, Chávez’s anointed successor, and has instead supported a review of the vote count.

In appearances before both the House and Senate in recent days, Secretary of State John Kerry re-affirmed that position “so that the people of Venezuela who participated in such a closely divided and important election can have the confidence that they have the legitimacy that is necessary in the government going forward.”

He said, “I don’t know whether it’s going to happen. … [But] obviously, if there are huge irregularities, we are going to have serious questions about the viability of that government.”

Kerry’s statements brought the predictable howls of protest from Venezuela. “It’s obscene, the U.S. intervention in the internal affairs of Venezuela,” Mr. Maduro said. “Take your eyes off Venezuela, John Kerry! Get out of here! Enough interventionism!”

But no one should be intimidated by such false bravado.

Maduro is in a panic. He knows he cannot handle declining socio-economic conditions in the face of a reinvigorated opposition, dissension in his own ranks, and an engaged U.S. government standing firm on principle regarding the legitimacy of his election.

Of course, the administration will face a vociferous public campaign by chavista sympathizers pressuring it to accept Sunday’s disputed result. Already, the feckless Organization of American States Secretary General José Miguel Insulza has backtracked from the organization’s initial strong statement on behalf of a recount and now has accepted the result.

Recognition proponents will tell us the United States faces “isolation” in the region if the administration doesn’t recognize Maduro (only Panama and Paraguay have joined the call for a recount) and that its supposed intransigence plays right into Maduro’s hands, allowing him to whip up nationalist sentiment.

Nonsense. Those proposing such arguments fail to recognize that governments are pursuing interests. Certain countries such as Brazil, Colombia, and even Russia and China, have benefited greatly from economic ties with Venezuela under Chávez and their short-sighted view is to try and keep that spigot open.

Most citizens throughout the region, however, tend to be more appreciative of principles, such as the security and integrity of one’s vote. One can be sure that, in case of a disputed election in their own country, they would hope to count on external support for an honest accounting in their own electoral processes.

Secondly, as the election just demonstrated, Maduro is not Chávez, and his capacity to whip up anything but official violence against Venezuelans protesting in the streets is extremely doubtful (Warning: graphic photos here). In short, no one should be misled by the noisemakers.

A continued firm stand on behalf of a clean election will resonate positively throughout the region, sending a strong signal to all democrats that the United States does indeed care and that intimidation and violence have no place in any democracy. It is not likely that such sentiments will sway Maduro and his Cuban advisors to accept any sort of recount, but it will certainly place the United States on the right side of the debates and confrontations to come.

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One Comment

  1. Jay Sanchez says:

    Your article reeks of idiocy. what is the purpose of an election? In elections there are either winners as is the case of this chap Maduro or losers as in the case of Radonski. It matters not all this gibberage about “razor thin”. The election in 2000 between Al Gore and George Bush went past the boundaries of “razor thin”. Gore overwhemed Bush in the popular vote and Bush utilized a biased, slanted US Supreme Court ruling to put him over the edge given the controversial Florida vote and subsequent count, not to mention the nepotistic behaviour of his brother governor, Jeb and the now infamous Kathleen Harris. No country talked about not recognizing Bush as the victor even though he had stolen the election…that was however not the case here, the bottom line is Maduro won fair and square so just deal with it…you don’t like the man, his predecessor or whatever…tough….but the democratic thing to do is to acknowledge the man won…and over 200.000 probably closer to 300.000 voters separated him from the losing candidate..that’s over a quarter million people…what are you saying that their votes mean not a damn thing? President Jimmy Carter renown in the field for monitoring elections globally, has stated that Venezuela has the most transparent, technologically sophisticated and credible voting system on planet earth…Jimmy Carter…who the hell are you? what do you bring to the plate to eclipse his widely respected credibility? And what are these huge irregularities that you speak of? International monitors of every stripe and political persuasion were on hand to monitor Venezuela’s election and to a man, they reported generally good comportment with only a very few complaints none of which rose to the bar of what takes place right in the US. The whole sordid affair of high percentage minority “under votes” (don’t know if you’re even remotely familiar with this)is a searing travesty of voter fairnes and regualarity. Maduro comments on Kerry’s press release as being obscene, they are not obscene, what is obscene is US historical intervention into Latin American affairs, from Argentina to Chile to Honduras to Venezuela to Guatemala to Panama to Paraguay to Costa Rica to Nicaragua to Bolivia to Ec

    uador, to Colombia to El Salvador to Mexico….lets not even bring the Caribbean into the mix…lets not even mention National Endowment for Democracy and USAID and all that they do and have done to destabalize Venezuela and the “obscenities” of humongous amount of US tax payers dollars being funneled into opposition campaigns throughout the region…Venezuela being no exception…let’s not mention the activities of John Negroponte, Roger Noreiga, Larry Palmer, Oliver North amongst numerous others who have engaged in the worst sort of subterfuge and sabotage in Latin America…you got some nerve pal….you and your United Fruit Company cohorts will never enjoy credibility after the told and untold atrocities that you and your ilk continue to wreak, on a previously unsuspecting people….then you have the temerity to suggest that “governments are pursuing interests” those who have acknowledged Maduro’s victory, are trying keep open “spigots” of financial ties etc. and just what spigots are you interested in? Your stuff is like cellophane pal! I just managed to stumble across your tripe, you have an actual readership? That Chavez who you attempt to malign, is responsible for feeding thousands of inner city black and latino kids througout America, has through CITGO supplied heating oil subsidies during the winter… has cut extreme poverty in Venezuela by half(not a stat. that would necessarily slake the appetite in the board rooms of your jefes)…has reduced unemployment by over half and global Ngo’s have acknowledged and commended his selfless achievements in alleviating and eradicating poverty in his own country and across the region of his neighbors…that really gets your goat doesn’t it? That man has died but his legacy will live on for a very long time…your boy Radonski only managed his short-lived brouhaha due his malicious fabrications and dirty tricks campaigning….he’ll never get results like that again…they’re pulling the deceptive cover off him now and his antics have awakened a sleeping giant…the 5 million who didn’t vote and are now awakened and pissed and chide themselves that they lapsed into an idyllic funk and almost let this forked tongue neophyte get control of their country…well do they now remember the dictatadural leaders of the past who were responsible for their pitiable living conditions notwithstanding the huge amoounts of monies they shamelessly filled their coffers with…your boy Radonski has started something now and this previously disconnected arm of the eligible electorate are determined to show him a good time come the next elections…now that the real deal down in the big V, not that claptrap that you allude, has spawned frigid and frightening convection currents…people of the same ilk always tend to orbit around each other and you my friend are no exception to that well known adage.

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