Last Sunday was a tense day around my place. My significantly better half, of Venezuelan origin, was glued to several social media apps – Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp in particular – in an attempt to get up to the minute information on the parliamentary elections in Venezuela.
Advanced polling had given the opposition a substantial lead over the government of Nicholas Maduro, the hand-picked successor to the late Hugo Chavez. A victory would signal a change in the country, a majority would lead to improvements, and a super-majority of 112, or two-thirds,would mean a sea change in the country.
As an interested observer I had seen this all before; hopes raised only to be dashed by voting irregularities that the ruling government employs. Tears shed abroad by families split trying to flee years of corruption and violence in Venezuela. I held my breath not only for the results, but for the reaction to same.
Late in the day it was announced that the polls would be open for an additional hour. I thought this was a good thing; the more voters casting ballots the more chance for a legitimate election. But it was soon explained to me that this is one of the tactics used by the government if they sense they are in a bad position (or know their actual support, as voting is done by machine, and no one believes a running tally is not available to Maduro). The next word was that buses were arriving at polling stations. This is also a bad sign as often these are full of government supporters who have already voted and will now cast dubious ballots – often those of dead people.
Then with the voting over, the tension built and social media went crazy. The official announcement was not made for some five hours – was Maduro going to stage a Coup as had been rumoured? Then finally official word of a 99-seat majority with several more too close to call. It now seems that the coveted super-majority has been achieved. Interesting times are in store for Venezuela.
Tears of joy were the order of the day not only in Venezuela, but in Montreal, Costa Rica and Spain where family members have relocated.
I was pleased to see the following statement from the Canadian Government.
December 7, 2015 – Ottawa, Ontario – Global Affairs Canada
The Honourable Stéphane Dion, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today issued the following statement on the parliamentary elections that took place in Venezuela on December 6, 2015:
“Canada congratulates Venezuelans for exercising their democratic right to vote in a peaceful environment. We encourage all parties to engage in productive and meaningful dialogue to ensure that all branches of government work together in the best interests of the country’s citizens. We look forward to continuing to work with the Government of Venezuela to consolidate and strengthen our diplomatic relationship.
“With full respect for Venezuela’s sovereignty, Canada looks forward to working with the Government of Venezuela to uphold the principles of respect for human rights and democratic governance enshrined in the charters of the UN and Organization of American States, as well as in the Inter-American Democratic Charter.
“In every society, a government’s first responsibility is to ensure the well-being of its citizens. Canada believes that with mutual respect and compromise among Venezuela’s political leaders, peace can be maintained, allowing the country’s social and economic challenges to be properly addressed.”