Respect for sovereignty

In the midst of Venezuela’s economic and social crisis, exacerbated by the corona pandemic and the ever-tightening US sanctions, the ruling socialists emerged from the parliamentary election with a clear victory.

After five years, the socialist government regains the majority in the national parliament (Asamblea Nacional). After the vote, President Nicolás Maduro called on the international community to “respect the sovereignty of the Venezuelan people”.

The alliance “Great Patriotic Pole”, which includes the ruling PSUV, the parties PPT, Tupamaros, SV, Podemos, UPV, Ora, MEP and APC, won the parliamentary election with 69.3% of the vote. Far behind in second place are the opposition alliances of the moderate right “Alianza Democrática”, the once Social Democratic Acción Democrática (AD) and the Christian Democratic COPEI, with 18.8% and the “Alianza Venezuela Unida” with 4.2%. The new left-wing alliance “Revolutionary People’s alternative” (APR), which unites the Communist Party of Venezuela (PCV) and several Chavist grassroots groups, achieved 2.73%.

Around 20 million eligible voters were called upon to elect the 277 members of the National Assembly from the circle of around 14,400 candidates from over 100 parties and groups. Just 31% of eligible Venezuelans have cast their ballots. Reasons for this are seen in the electoral boycott of the ultra-right, but also in the devastating economic situation, which makes the fight for survival the main issue for many, as well as in problems with the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition, from the spectrum to the left of the PSUV, the Maduro government is accused of having lost sight of the core contents of Chavist politics and of pursuing a privatization-friendly policy against the population.

For the right-wing Opposition in Venezuela, the result is a bitter setback. It has lost its last and only institutional Bastion. Since 2016, the Maduro opponents in Parliament had a two-thirds majority. In 2019, Juan Guaidó, who held the Office of President of the parliament, proclaimed himself “interim president” after the right-wing majority in the National Assembly had not recognized Maduro’s election as president the year before. With the outcome of the elections, the ultra-right Hardliner Guaidó now loses his office as president of Parliament and thus his constitutionally questionable claim to an “interim presidency”.

In the run-up to the elections, there had been an open dispute about participation in the right-wing opposition camp. The social-and Christian Democratic opposition members spoke out in favour of a candidacy with reference to the unsuccessful attempts to overthrow the country, also because they feared that a boycott of the elections would lose the last possibility of political influence. In contrast, the US-backed hardline Guaidós camp did not even try to run against Maduro in the polling station. Anticipating defeat, they discredited the result in advance and called for a boycott of the election with the unsubstantiated accusation of “electoral fraud”.

Of course, the question arises: who should give Donald Trump’s pupil, with the exception of the rich elites, his votes? After all, Guaidó was not a “wish president” of the people – the poor population, the Campesinos, the majority of women and the indigenous. On the contrary, his political activities on the international stage have contributed to an even greater alienation from the population. He welcomed the US sanctions, which further aggravated the already precarious humanitarian situation, tried to seize the gold reserves of Venezuela deposited in the Bank of England, participated in the plans for the dilettante military invasion attempt “Operation Gideon” in May 2020 and called for the application of the “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P), i.e. the invasion of one’s own country, in a speech to representatives of the UN on 23 September.

Venezuela, rich in oil, has been in a deep crisis for years. The economy is still in free Fall and the public infrastructure has been driven to wear and tear for years. The Lockdown in the wake of the Colvid-19 pandemic has boosted the economy. There is the highest Inflation in the world, which eats up the low wages. Around six million households depend on food aid and other government support. Due to a lack of foreign exchange – due to the fall in the price of oil and the economic blockade – the country can hardly import food, medicines and daily necessities. The massive emigration of Venezuelans has slowed down in the wake of the pandemic, but according to UN estimates around five million Venezuelan citizens live abroad.

So it was no surprise that as the Trump Administration intensified the “Shock Doctrine”-sanctions and military threats – the Venezuelans ' rejection of it increased. In November 2017, 72% of respondents in a poll conducted by the pollster Interlaces expressed their opposition to the sanctions, and in a new poll conducted in August 2020, the number of respondents who disapproved rose to 81% (Amerika 21, 29.11.2020).

After the loss of the parliament, Guaidó now stands without legitimacy for his already powerless “counter-government”. His reactions are reminiscent of his Mentor in the “White House”, who, despite his defeat, continues to consider himself president. For example, the Guaidó gang has called for its own referendum on the Internet. In it, Venezuelans are asked whether they recognize the parliamentary election, welcome Maduro’s removal and support Guaidó in extending his mandate as president of Parliament.

While the majority of the 193 UN member states, including China, Russia and numerous governments in Latin America, respect the election result, the transatlantic West has so far maintained its policy of Blockade and overthrowing Venezuela. Outgoing US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the vote in Venezuela a “Farce”. EU foreign affairs commissioner Josep Borrel spoke in colonial style about the fact that the election was “neither credible nor transparent”. A spokeswoman for German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said: “from our point of view, the elections were not free and fair and did not meet international minimum standards.“Miguel Berger, state secretary at the Federal Foreign Office, added one more thing and tweeted that the failed coup plotter Guaidó could count on “continued support”. A disregard for the scientific service of the Bundestag, which had already described its recognition as “interim president” by the federal government and other Western states as contrary to international law in February 2019. But despite these” expressions of solidarity”, the"regime change" supporters face a Dilemma: on the one hand, they still do not want to recognize Nicolas Maduro as president, but on the other hand, it will probably be difficult for them in the future to hold on to the electoral boycott that has lost his office as president of Parliament. Guaidó is now a marginal figure even in the right-wing Venezuelan Opposition.

In its final report in Caracas, the committee of around 200 international election observers stated that the conduct of the parliamentary elections had met national and international Standards: “we recognize the legitimacy, legality and respect for the Constitution”. The authors also reject " external interference and declarations of non-recognition by the governments of the United States, Canada and the European Union. In view of the failure of the overthrow policy, the election observer and former Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero calls on the EU to change course towards Venezuela. It would lead to “the greatest absurdity in the history of international Law”, if we recognise furthermore, neither the elected President nor the present elected Parliament, but instead the non-elected Guaidó.

In its message at the beginning of Advent, the Bishops ' Conference of Venezuela also called on political actors and civil society organizations to make joint efforts. There is no solution without mutual recognition and genuine dialogue. The fact is: Venezuela does not need more inhumane sanctions or self-proclaimed “saviours” of the ultra-right Opposition who support an overthrow. It needs an Opposition that recognizes the legitimacy of Venezuela’s political system and thus paves the way for a new era in the country’s politics aimed at overcoming social polarization.