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A fraud during elections in Venezuela

Nicolás Maduro has once again become the President of Venezuela but there have been accusations that the election had been rigged. Smartmatic, a company which counted votes, admitted that the data had been manipulated. According to official information, only 46% of the citizens entitled to vote took part in the elections.

 

The rig

According to Luis Almagro, Secretary General of the Organization of American States, “the biggest election fraud in Latin America” took place in Venezuela, as the company counting the votes admitted that there was election rigging.

The government claims 8 million Venezuelans have taken part in the presidential election this year, but the opposition and the prosecutor’s office disagree with this figure. Anyway, it is still a very low turnout in comparison to the last elections in 2013, when almost twice as many citizens voted. What is more, a company Smartmatic, which has been responsible for providing the technology platforms and services during the Venezuelan elections, has some significant objections.

– Conducting an audit would allow us to know the exact number of people who took part in the election – said Antonio Mugica, CEO of Smartmatic, during a press conference in London. He also underlined that the company’s representatives could not monitor the election. – We estimate the difference between the official number and the one indicated by the system is at least one million voters.

Smartmatic has just closed its office in Venezuela.

Re-election

– Let us hope it will be people who decide, and the will of people of Venezuela will be respected here and in the whole world – said Maduro, the current President of Venezuela and former collaborator of Hugo Chavez, when he was voting in the presidential election last Sunday. He added that his country was moving towards political stability and warned the Venezuelans that they were making a decision between “voting and bullets, homeland and colony, peace and violence, independence and subordination.” Maduro also demanded from the United States and several other countries which do not recognize the election results to stop this harsh campaign.

– Venezuela is a country that deserves respect […]. Above all, [other countries] must recognize Venezuela and the Bolivarian movement, the Bolivarian forces, founded by commander Chavez and led by me.

Few Venezuelans were surprised when the Electoral Commission announced that Nicolás Maduro had been re-elected with a majority of over 6 million votes and would hold office until 2025.

– Me and my neighbours did not vote. That is how we wanted to protest – says Yadira Moreno, a resident of Caracas. – We knew that this election was a farce.

The President’s opponent, 56-year-old Henri Falcón, received only 1.8 million votes and decided to publicly ignore the results of the election.

Faltrump

– There was no election for us, we need to conduct next election in Venezuela – Falcón said during a meeting with the journalists in a hotel in Caracas.

Henri Falcón decided to stand as a candidate while most of the opposition resigned assuming that there were no conditions for fair and transparent elections. However, Falcón hoped that the economic crisis in Venezuela (long queues for groceries and gasoline) would make people to take part in the election and would end 20 years of the rules of Chávez people. Interestingly, this former military, Mayor of Barquisimeto and the governor of the Lara State, initially supported Hugo Chávez himself.

– In the 80s, Venezuela was also in the middle of a political crisis. Corruption was spoiling the country as it is doing today – he explained his decision to the BBC.

In 2010 he decided to join the opposition. He claims that the direction of politics changed. He did not like the government to be against private companies and wanted to strip one of the private factories in Barquisimeto of its lands.

Maduro publicly called Falcón “a Faltrump”, trying to show his relations with the United States and the International Monetary Fund. In fact, some believe that he only wanted to legitimise Maduro’s win in the election.

After announcing the results, Henri Falcón protested, among others, against voting with the participation of the third parties (it is estimated that it concerned about 60% of voters). In his opinion it is anti-democratic. Moreover, there were thousands of so-called “red points” where the supporters of the current government were sitting. The tents were located in close proximity to the electoral commissions – around 200 metres – or sometimes even inside the buildings. The voters went to them straight after voting with the national card to confirm their participation in the election and to qualify as beneficiaries of social programs and government bonds. Some hoped that they would also receive some money Maduro promised during the presidential campaign.

President Putin calls and congratulates

Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia, congratulated Maduro on Monday and underlined that the election was a historic moment. However, the election has been criticized by the United States, the European Union and some Latin American countries. Shortly after the announcement of the results, Panama issued a notice informing that it “does not recognize the election results that took place on May 20 in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela because the process was neither democratic nor participatory.” Costa Rica expressed its “deep concern that all political actors or independent observers did not participate in the election, which weakened the democracy.” Chile’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that it “does not recognize the validity of this electoral process, which has no legitimacy or minimum or necessary requirements to be democratic and transparent, in accordance with the international standards”.

In the face of the accusations, the Venezuelan government met with Julio Borges, the Venezuelan deputy, who assured that an investigation into the manipulation of the election results would be carried out. “It’s not just a fraud: it is a crime that begins with the Head of the electorate itself”, Borges said at the Federal Legislative Palace before its last meeting.

Photo: Avenida Bolivar de Caracas.

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