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Don’t call Venezuela’s presidential vote an ‘election.’ It’s a pseudo election | Opinion

Just hours after Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro announced that he will hold his fraudulent presidential election on July 28, it became clear that he had scored a propaganda victory: Virtually all the media and leaders around the world mechanically accepted referring to his planned voting farce as an “election.”

It wasn’t just the usual suspects — the Cuban, Venezuelan, Nicaraguan, Russian and Chinese dictatorships, and the presidents of Brazil, Mexico and Colombia who used Maduro’s term to refer to Venezuela’s upcoming voting charade.

Even the most respected international news media used the word “election” after the Venezuelan regime announced on March 5 the date of its planned pseudo-election.

“Venezuela’s highly anticipated presidential election will take place July 28,” read the first line of the Associated Press’s March 5 dispatch. “Venezuela will hold its presidential election on July 28,” stated a report from the Reuters news agency the same day.

Virtually all major newspapers and television networks followed suit, and used the same language. U.S. and European officials, as well as several Maduro critics, have fallen into the same trap.

But will Venezuela really hold an election? According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definition of an election is “an act or process of electing.” As things stand now, Venezuelans will not be allowed to choose the candidates of their liking.

Consider:

Maduro has banned all major opposition candidates. Opposition leader Maria Corina Machado, who won the opposition’s primary elections with an overwhelming 90% of the vote in October, has been barred from being a candidate. Other key opposition leaders have also been proscribed under bogus legal charges, or forced into exile.

Opposition leaders have no freedom to campaign freely in the country. Machado told me in a January interview that she can’t fly inside the country, because the regime has ordered all airlines not to allow her to board flights. When she travels, she has to do it by car.

Maduro does not allow freedom of the press. Machado told me that, over the past year, she was not been allowed to be interviewed a single time by any major Venezuelan TV network.

Maduro’s sudden announcement last week that the elections will take place on July 28 leaves the opposition with little time to organize.

The short timeline will not allow credible international electoral observation. The regime has said it will invite foreign observers, but mostly from friendly countries. Independent electoral missions will be subject to restrictions, or — such as in the case of the 32-country Organization of American States — not allowed into the country.

Venezuela’s five-member National Electoral Council is controlled by Maduro stooges, and does not act an independent electoral tribunal.

Despite these seemingly insurmountable obstacles, Venezuela’s opposition should participate in Maduro’s sham elections. As we learned in elections in Chile in 1988 and Nicaragua in 1990, unpopular dictatorships sometimes lose elections despite all their schemes to manipulate the outcome.

Polls show that Maduro, who already re-elected himself in fraudulent 2018 elections, is rejected by an overwhelming percentage of Venezuelans. Support for his ruling party has plummeted to 25%, according to a recent Delphos survey. If Maduro thought he had a chance of winning a credible election, he wouldn’t have gone to the extreme of banning all major opposition candidates.

The worst mistake Venezuela’s opposition could make is not taking advantage of the sham election process as a window of opportunity to mobilize the population against the regime.

Machado and her allies are currently debating whether to present a substitute candidate for the July 28 vote, or press ahead with Machado’s campaign despite the government’s ban on her. Either way, Machado should rally Venezuelans to demand that the regime recognize her ticket.

And then, if the regime maintains its ban, Machado should call on Venezuelans to write her name on the ballots — or submit blank ballots, like the Iranian opposition did in that country’s March 1 parliamentary elections — to get millions of nullified votes, and expose Maduro’s election as a joke.

But, starting now, nobody — especially journalists and democratic leaders around the world — should refer to the Venezuela regime’s planned vote as an “election.”

Let’s call it a “pseudo-election” or a “fake election.” Maduro and the leaders of Brazil, Colombia and Mexico, among others, should not be given a pretext to normalize yet another electoral fraud in Venezuela.

Don’t miss the “Oppenheimer Presenta” TV show on Sundays at 9 pm E.T. on CNN en Español. Blog: andresoppenheimer.com.

Oppenheimer
Oppenheimer