By Joe Montero
Venezuela has just gone through an election for a new Constituent Assembly. This is a new body, designed to lift discussion about the country’s future and bring about the peace, put forward by government led by Nicolás Maduro.
Regardless of the merits or otherwise of the claim, at the very least, it should be acknowledged that the voters were asked and encouraged to cast their verdict.
A sticking point is that the Constituent Assembly would have the power not to change the constitution. The truth is that it will only have the power to make recommendation that will then have to be put a referendum. A clear guideline has been set, based on what has been called the “nine lines of work, which are
- Achieve peace, isolate the violent, reaffirm the values of justice and accountability.
- Perfect and broaden the Venezuelan economic system, to design or install a new post-petroleum economic system
- Include within the Constitution all of the Missions and Grand Missions established by Comandante Chávez and the Revolution, among them those focused on housing, education, health, and culture.
- Strengthen the functioning of the justice, security, and citizen protection system.
- Promote new forms of participation.
- Advance the defense of national sovereignty.
- Promote cultural identity and the country’s new spirituality.
- Guarantee youth a future.
- Show concern for the survival of life on the planet.
Despite the ‘official opposition’ boycott, 6,100 candidates stood for 456 positions, representing Venezuela’s different social sectors. Not all were government Maduro supporters.
Forty-three international observers and electoral experts oversaw the vote and have declared the result legitimate. The have also appealed for the will of the people of Venezuela to be respected.
In a statement the observers said,
“the Venezuelan people have made their case for peace despite threats and interventionist actions from the United States as well as their associates and allies.”
They also said that Venezuelans “have concurred in a civic and peaceful manner to exercise their right to vote in a free, universal, direct, and secret election as expressed in Article 63 of the Bolivarian Constitution.”
Much of the media coverage outside Venezuela has chosen to ignore all this and only put out the story provided by statements coming from the opposition. The line here is that this is about a dictator, working to consolidate his absolute power.
The vote for Constituent Assembly is for representatives of social sectors, in addition to representing electorates. This means that workers, peasants women, youth and students will have their own representatives. Provision has been made to also include representatives for indigenous people, Afro-Venezuelans and the disabled. The opposition also objects to social sector representation.
Video from TeleSur
The reality is that the opposition’s support base is concentrated and does not spread across all sectors, especially working class and poor communities. This put it at a disadvantage and has a lot to do with the decision for a boycott.
Trawling through the reporting, shows wholesale unverified reporting, relying on uncritical repetition of media releases from this opposition. There is a lack of proper investigation. Only one story gets out and anything getting in its way is effectively censored by the major media outlets.
For instance, the unrealistic claim that 70 percent of the electorate supported their boycott and stayed away from the polls has been peddled widely. On this basis, the election process was labeled a fraud by the White House and sanctions on the South American country are being stepped up.
What is not mentioned is that the figure comes from a survey of intention conducted by the opposition, before the election. Any fair-minded person would accept that this is not the actual voting figure and needs to be verified against other evidence in any case.
Official figures of the count show that over 41 percent of the population voted. It may be short of a full turnout. But it was the highest turnout at any election for the past 18 years. Higher than when the collective opposition won a majority in the Congress in 2015.
Given the context in which the election occurred, this was a respectable turnout.
Video from TeleSur
For months, the opposition had been waging an openly violent and armed campaign in the streets to prevent the ballot from taking place. Perceived opponents have been hunted down by gangs. Continue reading What is really going on in Venezuela?