Regional elections for governors, mayors, state legislatures, and city councils were held in Venezuela on November 21, 2021. In a great victory for the Bolivarian revolutionary process, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) won 19 out of 23 governors and 212 of 335 races for mayors. The people of Venezuela sent a powerful message that they support the Bolivarian revolutionary process and will continue to defend their sovereignty and self-determination in the face of brutal U.S. sanctions.
In response, and without any evidence, the government of the United States claimed that the elections did not reflect the will of the people of Venezuela. This same lie was repeated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Canada, which stated on November 23 that, “Canada will continue to stand with the people of Venezuela in their fight to restore democracy.”
But, as I observed while on the ground in Venezuela during the election, this could not be further from the truth. Venezuelans do not need the United States to restore their democracy. Despite the cruel U.S.-led blockade, attacks, and meddling in the internal affairs of Venezuela, the people of Venezuela did exercise their democracy during the November 21 regional elections – in fact, for the 29th time since President Hugo Chavez was first elected in 1998.
I was in Venezuela for the November 21 election, representing the Fire This Time Movement for Social Justice, alongside over 300 international observers, including representatives from the European Union, the Carter Center (a non-governmental organization founded by ex-U.S. President Jimmy Carter), the U.S.-based National Lawyers Guild, and the Council of Latin American Electoral Experts, among many others. We observed the opposite of what the U.S. government claims – we saw an active, dynamic, and participatory democracy.
The November 21 elections mobilized over 8 million voters, a 42.3% election turnout. They voted to fill nearly 3000 positions: governors, mayors, members of state legislative councils, and municipal city councils. This is a great victory in the time of the pandemic and a brutal sanctions regime imposed on the United States and its allies, including Canada.
On elections day itself, we observed elections that were free and fair, people wanted to vote and were motivated to participate. On the streets of the capital city of Caracas and in the voting centers we toured, we heard from Venezuelans who had confidence and pride in their electrical system. And we did not only hear from people supporting the PSUV, the governing party of the Bolivarian revolution and President Maduro. Unlike other recent elections, the November 21 mega-elections included the participation of opposition candidates, many of whom had boycotted past elections to try and delegitimize the elections process itself. So, we also spoke to people who were supporting these opposition candidates.
Elections and the National Electoral Council (which is its own branch of government in Venezuela) are a fundamental part of Venezuela’s popular democracy and the Bolivarian revolutionary process. What we observed on November 21 was the functioning of this well-oiled machine. There are many aspects of elections in Venezuela that contribute to their transparency, fairness, and accessibility: everyone in Venezuela that is 18 and over is automatically a registered voter, elections are held on Sundays so that they are accessible to more working people, the process of voting is efficient and secure, and the vote is registered and counted both electronically and manually and also audited under the observation of all political parties.
However, regardless of the strength of the elections process and the presence of international observers, the United States, Canada, and other imperialist governments continue to insist that there is no democracy in Venezuela.
In a statement on November 22, 2021, the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry responded to these unfounded allegations pointing out, “It is the height of cynicism that a country where there is an indirect democracy [such as the United States], with second-degree elections and that has declared a brutal economic war against Venezuela, [...] purports to have the morals to question the elections alleging lack of freedoms or other conditions.” Really, how can the U.S. government claim that elections in Venezuela are not free or fair when they deny people in Venezuela their fundamental human rights - access to food, medicine, essential goods, and even Covid-19 vaccines?
The Brutal Impact of U.S. Blockade
The United States, Canada, the European Union, and Switzerland have all imposed sanctions aiming to coerce the people of Venezuela into overthrowing their democratically elected government of President Maduro and therefore reversing the social justice gains of the Bolivarian revolutionary process. This campaign had become especially brutal and heavy since 2015, when President Obama signed an executive order declaring that Venezuela is a “threat to US national security.” Since then, the U.S. government has imposed a brutal sanctions regime through congressional laws and executive orders. Over 300 administrative measures were issued, making it virtually impossible for Venezuela to conduct typical business transactions internationally. On top of that, these unilateral coercive measures, as the sanctions are described in international law, have enabled the theft of $1.95 billion in Venezuelan gold currently being held in the Bank of England. It has also caused international financial institutions to withhold money during transactions, for example, when Venezuela is trying to pay into the COVAX program and get more access to Covid-19 vaccines.
Venezuela: a Stalwart of Anti-Imperialist Struggle
The November 21 elections were held at a time when the United States and its allies were further isolated in Venezuela and Latin America. The U.S.-backed fake government of Juan Guaidó is failing apart rapidly, and the November 21 election was another nail in its coffin. Then, on December 6th, only 16 of 193 countries in the United Nations continued recognized U.S.-backed puppet Juan Guaidó as “Interim President” of Venezuela.
This clearly demonstrates that the United States has miserably failed to isolate Venezuela from the rest of the world. Despite these terrible unilateral sanctions imposed on them, Venezuela has economic and cooperative relationships with other developing countries, especially those that have also been targeted by the United States government, such as Iran and Russia. Venezuela continues to show that economic and social agreements can be forged without the assistance of the United States and the global financial system that the United States controls. This demonstrates to the rest of the poor, working, and oppressed people around the world and in Latin America, that there is a possibility for continued development without relying on the United States, the IMF, and the World Bank. Venezuela is a threat to US domination in Latin America and worldwide because they show this different way is possible.
Poor masses, working class people, and young people are rising across Latin America due to the deepening crisis of neoliberalism and the capitalist market system in Latin America. This is a crisis that has been accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic and sharpened by the U.S. hegemony, neoliberal governments, super-exploitation, sanctions, and intervention in the internal affairs of the people of Latin America and the Caribbean.
Venezuela today is one of the leading centers of the anti-imperialist struggle worldwide. The continuity and advancement of the Bolivarian revolutionary process in Venezuela is a critical point for revolution and counter-revolution in Latin America. Defending Venezuela is not a question of supporting socialism or socialists in Venezuela; it is fundamentally about defending the self-determination of an oppressed nation, the Venezuelan people, and of all countries and people working to build their independence from U.S. domination all around the world.
Free Alex Saab
Today is a critical time for peace-loving people around the world to strengthen our efforts against the brutal U.S. sanctions and blockade of Venezuela. It is also important that we support the case of Alex Saab, a Venezuelan diplomat, who's been illegally kidnapped from Cape Verde in the Caribbean and extradited to the United States, where he is facing a trial on trumped up charges of money-laundering related to his work to procure food contracts for the Venezuelans food distribution program known as CLAP.
Defending Venezuela is a central task for any anti-imperialist and anyone who believes that a better and just world is not only possible but necessary.
Follow Alison on Twitter: @Alisoncolette
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