Venezuela's matters not resolved by election

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

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Dear Editor,

I'm here wondering if the major Opposition party of Venezuela, the Justice First Party, made the correct decision by not participating in the presidential election.

I saw reports of the party being spilt in not sending a representative against Nicolas Maduro of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela.

According to the Venezuelan National Electoral Council numbers, the popular Hugo Chavez in 2006 got 7,309,080 votes versus Manuel Rosales' 4,292,466 votes. Voter turnout was 80.52 per cent.

Hugo Chavez again, in 2012, got 8,191,132 votes versus Henrique Capriles' 6,591,304 votes .The voters' list had 18,854,935 registered voters and voter turnout was 80.52 per cent.

In 2013 Nicolas Maduro got 7,587,579 votes over the main Opposition leader Henrique Capriles' 7,363,980 votes. The voters' list had 18,904,364 registered voters and voter turnout was 79.68 per cent.

Now we are in 2018, a so-called popular Nicolas Maduro, according to their own numbers, can only manage to get 6,157,185 votes versus his closest rival — an unpopular Henri Falcon of the Progressive Advance — who got 1,909,172 votes.The voters' list had 20,527,571 registered voters and there was a 46.1 per cent voter turnout.

Even though this election was basically uncontested, I strongly believe the Opposition could've defeated Nicolas Maduro here. Common sense tells me Maduro can't get higher numbers than Chavez. Also, based on trends, the Oppositon's numbers increased, not decreased.

I know arguments rightfully could be made that the presidential election is not free and fair; therefore, they won't contest because it's already fixed, and contesting it would be legitimising them. But this election has proven them somewhat wrong and right.

They were right in the sense of voter fraud and voter intimidation. We have that Henri Falcon and the evangelical pastor Javier Bertucci, an independent candidate, who came third with 983,140 votes, both complained about the results. They are citing the things that the main Opposition warned them about.

According to a Reuters report, a source at the National Electoral Council says the voter turnout was just 32.3 per cent, while the Opposition has the number at 26.1 per cent.

Maduro was dealt a blow when Falcon and Bertucci never accepted the results. Instead, they called for another run-off later this year. I hope the main Opposition forges a great partnership with Falcon in the future or finds a new leader.

But it seems the Opposition has given up on the ballot and would rather be in office by the force of the bullet — in their case, military intervention.

It is not surprising that Antigua and Barbuda is the only Caribbean island so far who has backed this result. I hope Andrew Holness finds a way to lead Caricom into being the mediator in the Venezuela matter.

Teddylee Gray

Ocho Rios, St Ann

teddylee.gray@gmail.com

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