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Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network: The Venezuelan people have spoken! Respect the democratic process!

 PSUV election rally. Photo by Tamara Pearson/Venezuelanalysis.

The Venezuelan people have spoken: Nicolas Maduro is president

End the opposition violence! Respect the democratic process!

No US-backed intervention in Venezuela!

April 17, 2013 -- The Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network joins with all those voices for democracy and peace to call for an immediate end to the opposition-initiated violence now occurring in Venezuela.

On April 14, a majority of Venezuelans voted for the United Socialist Party of Venezuela’s (PSUV) presidential candidate Nicolas Maduro. In doing so, they voted to continue the Bolivarian revolution previously led by Hugo Chávez.

Venezuela has one of the most transparent and secure voting systems in the world and the presidential elections were, according to all independent observers, free, fair and constitutional. The election result must be respected.

President-elect Maduro won with 50.75% of the vote, against 48.98% for opposition candidate Henrique Capriles, a margin of 1.77% (262.473 votes). Of the 24 states and regional entities, Maduro won a majority in 16. The voter turnout was 79.8%, higher than most other countries ever achieve.

It was a close vote, but election results in other countries, including the USA, have been much closer and the result has been accepted. The right-wing opposition in Venezuela, however, acting like a law unto itself, is refusing to accept the democratic outcome.

Hours before the results were announced, Capriles was attempting to discredit a Maduro victory by claiming on his Twitter account that the government was planning to “change the results”. When opposition MP Maria Corina Machado accused the government of fraud and told supporters to “defend the vote”, she was in effect calling on them to actively defy the outcome of the democratic process.

Despite an electronic recount reaffirming Maduro as the victor, Capriles is continuing to refuse to recognise the will of the Venezuelan people and is calling for street protests. The opposition leaders are inciting a dangerous situation, with opposition supporters attacking National Electoral Council (CNE) offices, torching PSUV headquarters and attacking individual supporters of the revolution.

An attempt on April 15 to take over the state TV channel, VTV, failed.

The government has accused the opposition of plotting a coup to overturn the government and ignore the vote. This possibility is not far-fetched: the US-backed right-wing in Venezuela has attempted coups before, and just three days before the election, early morning raids by government security forces uncovered a group of Colombian paramilitaries in possession of Venezuelan military uniforms, C4 explosives and 50 high capacity assault rifle magazines.

The Union of South American Nations’ electoral accompaniment mission, which was present throughout the electoral process, has called for the CNE’s official results to be respected. Most Latin American governments have formally congratulated Maduro on the victory.

Yet the imperialist powers have so far given tacit support to the Venezuelan opposition’s destabilisation campaign.

The European Union claims that “it is important that the result be accepted by all”. The United States administration is citing “the narrow margin of victory and the opposition’s dissent with the result” to support Capriles’ demand a full recount of the vote.

In no other democratic country could a political leader who lost an election and has absolutely no proof of electoral fraud simply refuse to accept the outcome and expect to receive support from the world’s major powers.

But imperialism has a lot riding on political developments in Venezuela. The US, in particular, was hoping that this election would open the door to reversing the anti-capitalist revolution that has survived and strengthened for more than a decade. Instead, the Chavistas’ win paves the way for another six years of developing socialism for the 21st century.

In the words of Maduro: “The media myth that our political project would fall apart without Chávez was a fundamental misreading of Venezuela's revolution. Chávez has left a solid edifice, its foundation a broad, united movement that supports the process of transformation. We've lost our extraordinary leader, but his project – built collectively by workers, farmers, women, indigenous peoples, Afro-descendants and the young – is more alive than ever.”

In voting for Maduro, the Venezuelan majority voted for a process that has massively reduced poverty, increased ordinary Venezuelans’ health and education, reduced unemployment and given the poor majority an active role in politics and society. They voted against a return to a past of neoliberal policies that favoured transnational capital at the expense of people's basic needs, and which was imposed through massive repression.

There are many major challenges facing the Bolivarian revolution – Maduro spoke in his victory speech about the persistent problems of bureaucracy, crime and corruption, for example – but to be able to tackle these problems, Venezuela’s democracy and revolution must be successfully defended against this current attempt to destroy it.

Capriles was a key player in the failed 2002 coup against then President Chavez. It seems clear that he is once again prepared to use violence and repression to try to overthrow a government and destroy democracy.

While the opposition lost the vote on April 14, it still controls most of the wealth of the country, as well as the majority of the media, and the Venezuelan people will need the active solidarity of all those internationally who value democracy, freedom, justice and peace to ensure that they are able to carry out the popular will that was expressed in these elections.

The Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network will act in solidarity with the Venezuelan government and people to achieve that goal. It also calls on the Australian government to come out immediately and recognise the election of Maduro as the president of choice of the Venezuelan people.

For information about possible solidarity actions around Australia, visit http://venezuelasolidarity.org.

[For full coverage of Venezuela click HERE.]

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