In Venezuela, Oligarchy Strikes Back

Félix López

Henrique Capriles, the candidate of Venezuela’s oligarchy and imperialism, has lost two presidential elections in six months. The first on October 7, 2012, against Chávez. The second, this April 14 against Nicolás Maduro. Capriles’ most recent election victory took place on December 16, 2012 when he became governor of Miranda, with an advantage of just 45,111 votes over his Bolivarian opponent, Elías Jaua. At that time, the National Electoral Council (CNE) seemed to him to be a very fair, respectable, and transparent body.

This April 14, Capriles lost to Nicolás Maduro by a difference of 234,935 votes (according the first official bulletin released). And as he made clear through his attitude prior to the elections, he is not accepting the result and he has called for national protest with cacerolazos (banging of pots and pans in street demonstrations), guarimbas (public disorders, blocking streets), accusations and refusal to acknowledge the election results, lies, and fear campaigns, denying the President-elect’s legitimacy and ignoring the majority will of the people, leading in the aftermath of the election to despicable acts of violence against some properties including health facilities, and residential, commercial, and political buildings.

Undoubtedly, the coming days in Venezuela will be tense. The irresponsible attitude of the defeated candidate and his campaign staff, which receive their orders and assistance from the U.S. embassy in Caracas, aims to create a similar climate to that of April 2002. Only this time the leadership of the Bolivarian National Armed Forces is connected to the people and is loyal to their Comandante en Jefe; the Bolivarians are more organized, the national public system of communication is more solid and Nicolás, the elected President, has told them that he is a man of peace, but that he will not allow the country to descend into violence.

The sore loser and his mentors are lashing out against the CNE. They are demanding a recount of the votes, a demand that the Bolivarians accept, confident as they are that they will emerge even better when the non-automated votes are counted, which come from the remotest areas of the country where there is majority support for the revolution. But Capriles has not requested a peaceful audit process. His fit of temper, as well scripted as his election campaign, involves creating a series of destabilization events, and in any one of these scenes something out of the ordinary could happen which could put the country’s peace at risk.

Let us not forget today’s new style of coup d’etat, which has already been rehearsed with a certain degree of success in Honduras and Paraguay; and we say “a certain degree of success” because the people’s response to the events and the reaction across the continent also point to the existence of a new way of dealing with the situation. For the Bolivarian revolutionaries this is a time to be alert, patient and firm. While the opposing temper tantrum spreads its class hatred throughout Venezuela, the people must unite around Nicolás Maduro, the continuator of Chávez’ work.

If the Venezuelan opposition had learned the rules of the democratic game (with which Chávez won 17 to 1), they would now be leading the large number of their followers (680,000 more than in October 2012) instead of calling them to battle. Capriles has the responsibility to guide and lead those who voted for him, not to take them into confrontation, as they did in 2002, attempting to take by force the power they could not win at the polls.

Having been declared President by the CNE, Nicolás Maduro has sent a clear message: “A majority is a majority and in a democracy this should be respected, we should not be looking for ambushes, pretexts to put the sovereignty of the people at risk (…); all that has one name: golpismo (coup-plotting). And that is what this is all about, the next chapter of a novel in which the recurring theme is an ongoing coup and an intention to topple the revolution by force. Because by the proper channels (with votes) they have lost again.

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