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Venezuela's opposition always cry foul. This victory was valid

ENEMIES of Venezuela’s Bolivarian revolution have lost no time in pouring scorn on President Nicolas Maduro’s re-election.

Despite assurances given to the Morning Star’s Calvin Tucker, one of many international observers present to monitor proceedings, that opposition leader Henri Falcon would respect the result just a day before the vote took place, the polls had hardly closed before Falcon cried foul and demanded a rerun.

The BBC was soon dutifully reporting that the victory had come amid “claims of vote-rigging,” an assertion made by liberal propagandists on the assumption that few viewers will look into how plausible those claims are.

In fact Venezuela’s voting system makes fraud impossible: voters are identified by fingerprint and vote on an electronic touch-screen device that then prints a ballot which the voter checks before casting. There are two records of every vote and any discrepancy would quickly become obvious. This is the voting process US president Jimmy Carter described as “the best in the world.”

It is true that the main opposition coalition, the Democratic Unity Roundtable (Mud), boycotted the vote.

And it is probably true too that the margin of President Maduro’s victory, impressive with 67.7 per cent of the vote to Falcon’s 21.2 per cent, would have been lower had Mud decided to participate.

Even so, a decision by an opposition party to boycott does not render the process invalid. Venezuela’s opposition is both cynical and ruthless.

Since Hugo Chavez was first elected in 1998, it has dedicated itself to reversing the revolution by any means necessary. In 2002 it actually kidnapped Chavez and faked a letter of resignation in his name, ousting him for 47 hours before a mass popular mobilisation defeated the attempted coup and restored him to office.

Since Chavez’s death, it has organised two major campaigns of violent rioting aimed at bringing down the government — the “guarimba” riots of 2014 that left 43 dead and the even more lethal unrest it staged last year, which included attacks on hospitals and schools and the murder of suspected government supporters including Orlando Jose Figuera, a 21-year-old black man seized and burned to death.

Figuera’s mother had no doubts as to who was responsible for his murder. “Who am I going to blame? The opposition. Because they are the ones who threw gasoline on my son like an animal.”

Despite incidents like this, despite an attack on the Supreme Court with grenades from a helicopter, despite an armed unit posting a video declaring itself in violent rebellion against the state, Britain’s mass media continue to portray Venezuela’s opposition as peaceful democrats and the government as disgracefully authoritarian whenever it seeks to defend citizens from violent counter-revolution.

The country’s elections are dismissed as invalid, despite the impossibility of fixing results given the voting process and the fact that the opposition actually won control of parliament in the 2015 vote.

It would be absurd to claim everything is rosy in Venezuela. The low turnout points to problems identified by the country’s Communist Party, which supported Maduro’s re-election but emphasised the need for a more radical revolutionary mobilisation and a stronger focus on the politics of class in order to counter the economic dominance of the old elite, which the rich have used effectively to undermine the government and attack the living standards of the poor.

Nonetheless, claims that the opposition boycotted the vote because it could not trust the process are dishonest. The opposition boycotted the vote because it didn’t think it would win.

Pretending the election wasn’t fair then allows it to justify other methods of removing Maduro, such as violent insurrection or military intervention as threatened by US President Donald Trump.

Supporters of democracy must be wise to the misinformation put out about Venezuela and stand in solidarity with its people and their revolution.

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