On July 30, 2017 the people of Venezuela went to the polls to elect a
National Constituent Assembly (ANC). The vote was Constitutional,
verifiable, secret, direct and universal, and over 8 million people
participated. Despite this reality, the government United States and
their allies, along with mainstream capitalist media have all decried
the elections as “illegitimate,” “unpopular” and a “sham.”
On July 17
there was another “vote” in Venezuela. In sharp contrast to their
reaction to the Constituent Assembly, imperialist governments and their
capitalist media had nothing but praise for this illegal “plebiscite.”
Basically, Venezuela’s right-wing opposition organized a non-binding
referendum without the authority of either Venezuela’s National
Electoral Council or the Constitution of Venezuela. The opposition
claims that over 7 million people participated in this referendum,
however, the results are not verifiable as the ballots were destroyed.
has been 19 years since election of Hugo Chavez in 1998 and the
beginning of the Bolivarian Revolutionary process. Since then, poor,
working and oppressed people in Venezuela have made tremendous gains in
their standards of living; in healthcare, education, housing, access to
food and clean water, among other basic indicators of quality of life.
Venezuela has a revolutionary government led by the democratically
elected President, Nicolas Maduro, but the economy of Venezuela is still
run by Venezuela’s rich class. This rich class is represented in
government by the opposition coalition MUD (the Democratic Round Table).
the past four months the people of Venezuela have been facing an
increasingly violent campaign by Venezuela’s right-wing opposition and
their violent mercenaries, whose ultimate goal is to overthrow the
legitimate government of Nicolas Maduro and reverse the gains of the
Bolivarian revolution. Over 100 people have been killed and over 1000
injured in the terrorist attacks that have included murders,
assassinations, road barricades, fires and attacks on government
buildings, among other crimes.
The National Constituent Assembly
is the revolutionary government of Venezuela’s response to this
escalated violence. The right-wing so-called plebiscite was the
opposition’s response to the ANC. Thus there is, with these two votes, a
“Tale of Two Elections,” an important illustration of the revolution
and counter-revolution in Venezuela.
What is the National Constituent Assembly?
“Today, on May 1
I announce that I am going to use my constitutional powers as the head
of state to convoke the Original Constituent Power, which, according to
Article 347, allows for the working class and the people convoke the
National Constituent Assembly…I convoke a citizens' Constituent
Assembly, not a Constituent Assembly of parties or elites…a citizen's,
workers', communal, campesinos' Constituent Assembly. A feminist, youth,
students' Constituent Assembly. An Indigenous Constituent Assembly."
As President Maduro explained, the ANC would be elected
by the people of Venezuela through a popular, direct and secret vote.
The ANC would then be charged with proposing changes to improve and
broaden Venezuela’s Constitution in order to strengthen the Bolivarian
revolutionary process and “make peace triumph over violence.” After the
ANC had completed its work, any proposed changes to the Constitution of
Venezuela would then be approved by the people of Venezuela in a
In the three months following the May announcement,
the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), together with the
various social institutions of the Bolivarian revolution, mobilized the
mass majority of people in Venezuela towards the ANC election. By
election day, July 30, there were 6,120 candidates running for the 545
seats in the Constituent Assembly.
Not a single candidate in the
election was from the right-wing opposition. This, however, was not
because they were not allowed from running. The right-wing opposition
parties decided to boycott the National Constituent Assembly. While at
the same time, they increased their campaign of violence and fear meant
to discourage the people of Venezuela from participating in the vote.
is also important to note that, as with previous elections, the
Constituent Assembly elections were overseen by the National Election
Council (CNE). The CNE is actually one of the five branches of
government in Venezuela.
July 30, 2017 – Election Day
Constituent Assembly elections were a great success for the
revolutionary government of Venezuela and the Bolivarian revolutionary
process. According to the CNE, on Sunday, July 30, 8,089,320 Venezuelans
went to the polls for the Constituent Assembly vote. This represents
41.5% of the registered voters in Venezuela (people living abroad were
not able to vote). In comparison, in 2013 President Maduro won the
election with 7,587,579 votes and Chavez won his 2012 re-election with
537 representatives, out of the 545 total
members, were elected on that day. The majority of these seats were
voted on using the method that most people in North America are familiar
with, by region. Much like elections in the US or Canada, 364
representatives were chosen on the basis of where people lived, with one
representative for every 83,000 people, and at least one representative
for every municipality. A further 173 of the representatives were
chosen based on sector. This means that they were nominated and voted
upon by specific sectors of society such as workers, farmers, people
with disabilities, students, pensioners, the business sector and
communes and communal councils. This way, groups within Venezuelan
society, with specific needs, could be sure to have their interests
represented in the Constituent Assembly.
The final eight
representatives were chosen from within Venezuela’s Indigenous peoples
on Tuesday August 1. In keeping with the Bolivarian Constitution of
1999, for Indigenous people the “their ancestral methods of choice and
participation” were recognized as part of the election process.
The ANC will be inaugurated on Friday, August 4.
Venezuela’s Violent Right-Wing Opposition Attacks Democracy
great success of the Constituent Assembly elections came despite an
intensified campaign by the violent right-wing opposition to sabotage
the vote. In the months leading up to July 30, leading members of the
opposition publically stated that they would not let the Constituent
Assembly happen. Following their marching orders, violent mercenaries
and counter-revolutionary thugs then got to work, bringing violence and
terror to the streets of Venezuela. This included the assassination of a
Constituent Assembly candidate, Felix Pineda Marcano, the night before
The violence in the streets of Venezuela continued
on election day. The Minister of Defense, Vladimir Padrino Lopez,
reported that 200 voting stations were surrounded by violent opposition
members. Because of this, alternate voting stations had to be set-up.
Attacks were also carried out against government security forces
deployed to protect the voting stations; the Interior Ministry has
reported that 21 state security personnel were wounded with gunshots, in
addition to the murder of National Guard Second Sergeant Ronald Ramirez
in Tachira State. At least nine other people were killed that day.
There was also a bombing attack directed against a police motorcycle
envoy. The bombs went off as the police drove through a pro-opposition
neighborhood in Caracas, injuring eight officers.
campaign to stop the Constituent Assembly elections also extended beyond
the borders of Venezuela. In the days leading up to the elections, both
the government of the United States and the government of Canada
demanded that Venezuela cancel the elections. The US even threatened to
impose further sanctions, a direct violation of the people of
Venezuela’s sovereignty and self-determination.
Organization of American States (OAS), United States government, Canada,
Mexico and their allies attempted to get the regional body to issue a
formal condemnation of the Constituent Assembly. However, their efforts
failed, just like so many other attempts by the imperialists to use the
OAS to promote intervention in the internal affairs of Venezuela.
What About Allegations of Fraud by Venezuela’s Opposition and Their Foreign Allies?
This was the 21st time that elections were held as part of the
Bolivarian revolutionary process that began with the election of Hugo
Chavez in 1998. Out of these 21 elections, two were considered a loss
for the Bolivarian revolution, the most recent being the 2015
parliamentary elections in which Venezuela’s opposition won a majority
of the seats.
The two times that elections in Venezuela were
in favour of the opposition, imperialist governments and their
capitalist media machine were silent about the results. For the other 18
elections that brought about advancement in the Bolivarian
revolutionary process, these same governments and the mainstream media
were quick with their allegations of fraud, irregularities and rigging.
This was no different for the Constituent Assembly elections on July 30.
In fact, immediately following the elections, the US government took
their threats one step further, and President Trump imposed sanctions
directly on President Maduro.
The imperialist and right-wing
allegations against the July 30 elections are, however not based in
fact. Instead of relying on data from the electronic voting machines
used in the elections (which by the way use finger-prints to identify
voters), mainstream media sources like the New York Times are instead
quoting so-called “independent” election observers (like the investment
bank Tornio Capital) and the observations of unnamed reporters in the
An audit of the Constituent Assembly election is
also set to be carried out to further verify the results, but
imperialist governments are not waiting in on this before continuing
their attacks against President Maduro and the Bolivarian revolution.
This is another sign that the allegations of fraud and rigging are
baseless. They speak of “democracy” in Venezuela, but what they really
mean is “democracy” for Venezuela’s violent opposition and capitalist
class. The reaction of the US representative to the United Nations,
Nikki Haley, says it all “Maduro’s sham election is another step toward
dictatorship. We won't accept an illegitimate govt. The Venezuelan
people and democracy will prevail."
Right-wing Plebiscite in Venezuela – Exactly What the US Government and Their Allies Were Looking For
On Sunday, July 17
Venezuela’s opposition organized another vote, what they referred to as
a “plebiscite.” This “plebiscite” was essentially a non-binding
referendum called by the right-wing opposition, with no recognition by
Venezuela’s democratically elected government or the National Electoral
Council, and no Constitutional recognition. Despite this, the opposition
went ahead with the voting with the full support of the government of
the United States and their allies, and received wide-spread recognition
as the “voice of the people of Venezuela” in mainstream capitalist
So, What Was This Opposition “Plebiscite” All about?
As reported by Al Jazeera, the three questions on the ballet (which were supposed to be answered with a ‘Yes’ or a ‘No’) were:
Do you reject and ignore the realization of a Constituent Assembly
proposed by Nicolas Maduro without the prior approval of the Venezuelan
2. Do you demand that the National Armed Forces and all
public officials obey and defend the Constitution of 1999 and support
the decisions of the National Assembly?
3. Do you approve the
renewal of public powers in accordance with the provisions of the
Constitution, and the holding of free and transparent elections, as well
as the formation of a government of national unity to restore
Instead of being organized by the
government and Venezuela’s National Electoral Council (CNE), it was
organized by a coalition of Venezuela’s right-wing opposition. In
contrast to the Constituent Assembly vote which took three months to
prepare, this vote was organized is just two weeks, after being
announced on July 3
Anyone over the age of 18 could vote in the plebiscite, including people living outside of Venezuela.
What Were the Results?
opposition reported that 7 million people voted in the referendum.
There are however, a number of significant irregularities that have been
reported about this number.
For example, the opposition has
reported that 693,000 votes were cast abroad, while only about 101,000
voters live outside of Venezuela. There are also basic problems exposed
by mathematical analysis that make 7 million votes impossible. As
reported by Ryan Mallett-Outtrim of venezuelaanalysis.com
“According to the pro-opposition newspaper El Nacional, on Sunday
the opposition organized roughly 2000 voting centers nationwide, with a
total of 14,800 individual booths. That means that on election day,
each booth must have received an average of 485 votes. Yet the voting
centers were only open for nine hours, from 7am to 4pm
. That means each booth had to receive 54 ballots per hour: that’s around one every minute.”
Unlike the Constituent Assembly election, the opposition has also made
an audit of the results impossible as the ballots have already been
burned from some states.
Some of the irregularities in the
number of votes might be explained by repeat voting. A teleSUR
investigative report conducted during the unconstitutional referendum
revealed that one person was able to vote three times.
This is What Democracy Looks Like”?
the eve of the Constituent Assembly election in Venezuela, US
Vice-President Mike Pence made a phone call to Leopaldo Lopez, a leader
in Venezuela’s violent, counter-revolutionary opposition. Mr. Lopez had
recently been let out of prison, and was under house arrest, for his
role in inciting street riots in 2013 that killed 43 people.
his phone call to this convicted criminal, Vice President Pence gave
Leopaldo Lopez words of support and encouragement, reminding him that
the US government had demanded that the government of Venezuela cancel
the Constituent Assembly elections and hold a US-supported, opposition
led version of “free and fair elections” in Venezuela.
Mr. Pence, you forgot that those “free and fair” elections were just
about to happen. Left with a choice between an election that was
constitutionally recognized and verifiable, and a referendum that was
neither of these things, the US government and their allies have chosen
Once again, imperialist lies, manipulations and
intervention in Venezuela are exposed. The US government and their
allies do not care about “democracy” or “legitimate” elections in
Venezuela, as much as they do not care about the hundreds of people that
have been killed in Venezuela by the violent opposition that they
support. Together with Venezuela’s violent right-wing opposition, their
only interest is in overthrowing the government of Venezuela and
reversing the gains of the Bolivarian revolutionary process.
US and imperialist intervention and sanctions are preparation for
further, and more aggressive attacks. As the people of Venezuela
continue to build the Bolivarian revolutionary process, and defend their
rights to sovereignty and self-determination, international solidarity
is needed now more than ever before.
Follow Alison Bodine on Twitter: @Alisoncolette