With the purpose of granting themselves unlimited power, Venezuela’s socialist government and its leader, President Nicolas Maduro has staged what the U.S. is calling a “flawed election.”
In response, the U.S. State Department released a statement on Sunday vowing “strong and swift actions against the architects of authoritarianism.”
“The United States stands by the people of Venezuela, and their constitutional representatives, in their quest to restore their country to a full and prosperous democracy,” the State Department said in a statement, according to Reuters. “We will continue to take strong and swift actions against the architects of authoritarianism in Venezuela, including those who participate in the National Constituent Assembly as a result of today’s flawed election.”
UN Ambassador Nikki Haley called the elections a “sham.”
Venezuelan electoral authorities falsely claimed that more than 8 million people voted in the election to create a constitutional assembly which will basically give Maduro’s ruling socialist party unlimited powers. However, critics say that number is really closer to 3 million, and an exit poll by a Venezuela public opinion company estimated that 3.6 million people voted. That number represents only 18.5 percent of registered voters.
The results thus far suggest that the government maintains an important loyal core of supporters that it can mobilize in both electoral and non-electoral scenarios. Venezuela has an estimated 2.6 million government employees, thus, a large fraction of the votes could have not been voluntary.
The countries of Argentina, Canada, Colombia, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Spain, and Britain joined the U.S. in stating that they would not recognize the results of Sunday’s staged vote.
Maduro’s call for the country to vote for a constitutional assembly came in May after a month of protests against his corrupt government. Sinking oil prices and widespread government mismanagement has caused Venezuelans to be plunged into a devastating crisis during Maduro’s four years in power. Rampant inflation and homicide rates in the country are now among the world’s highest, and Venezuelan citizens have been suffering shortages of food and medicine.
ABOUT PRESIDENT MADURO
Nicolás Maduro Moros (born 23 November 1962) is a Venezuelan politician who has been the President of Venezuela since assuming office in 2013. Previously he served under President Hugo Chávez as Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2006 to 2013 and as Vice President of Venezuela from 2012 to 2013.
A former bus driver, Maduro rose to become a trade union leader, before being elected to the National Assembly in 2000. He was appointed to a number of positions within the Venezuelan Government under Chávez, ultimately being made Foreign Minister in 2006. He was described during this time as the “most capable administrator and politician of Chávez’s inner circle”. After Chávez’s death was announced on 5 March 2013, Maduro assumed the powers and responsibilities of the president. A special election was held on 14 April 2013 to elect a new president, and Nicolas Maduro won with 50.62% of the votes as the candidate of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela. He was formally inaugurated on 19 April.
Maduro has ruled Venezuela by decree since 19 November 2013. As a result of Chávez’s policies and Maduro’s continuation of them, Venezuela’s socioeconomic status declined, with crime, inflation, poverty and hunger increasing. Shortages in Venezuela and decreased living standards resulted in protests beginning in 2014 that escalated into daily riots nationwide by 2016, with Maduro’s popularity suffering. The loss of popularity saw the election of an opposition-led National Assembly in 2015 and a movement toward recalling Maduro in 2016, though Maduro still maintains power through loyal political bodies, such as the Supreme Court and electoral authority, as well as the military. Maduro, like Chávez, has been accused of authoritarian leadership with conventional media describing him as a dictator, especially following the suspension of the recall movement that was directed towards him.
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