What the United States Could Learn from Venezuelan Democracy

When the Venezuelan elections are held on May 20, much of the world’s media, trailing the U.S. Department of State, will have already denounced the elections as “non-democratic” before they have even taken place.

Mainstream media in the United States repeatedly called for early elections during the months of Venezuela’s violent guarimba protests in 2017. A State Department official said March 29 of last year that “President Maduro… should hold elections as soon as possible.”

However, when the National Electoral Council (CNE) actually called said elections, these same voices changed their tune.

The charges are rather predictable.

A Washington Post headline proclaimed the elections were “terrible news for democracy.” The New York Times claims the elections are intended only to “tighten Maduro’s grip.”

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, speaking to the Organization of American States (OAS) called on Venezuela to suspend its elections, only months after having clamored for them to be held. Pence claimed “it will be a fake election,” and a “fraud and a sham.”

But is the United States really the model democracy it claims to be?


US: Liberty and Justice For All?

While repeatedly claiming to be the caretaker of “democracy” and actively justifying its invasions and interference in other countries and their internal affairs as “spreading democracy”, a look at the United States own system of elections as well as the history of its foreign policy regarding elections reveals a significantly different reality.

The United States has throughout its history, disregarded the right of people around the world to choose their own leader in a democratic way, and has used its immense economic, political and military weight to depose elected leaders in Latin America, including in Paraguay, Brazil. Argentina, Bolivia, Chile and Granada.

The lack of respect for democracy extends within the United States’ own borders as well, so much so that President Donald Trump is currently sitting in the White House, after having lost the popular vote which has no value over how U.S.president secure the White House.

Even though a majority of election participants voted against Trump, like George Bush before him, he was able to slip into the job through a controversial electoral college victory, an antiquated institution that over half of U.S. citizens disapproved of in a Gallup poll in 2016.

In the U.S. the electoral college system determines that more populated states have more electoral votes, but many states have a winner-takes-all policy, which means that if a candidate wins the majority of the popular vote in a state like Ohio, those who voted for the other candidates lose their voice in the electoral vote which in turn means discarding millions of people who voted.

Also the election system in the U.S. presents obstacles in the way of voters and ultimately discourage those eligible to vote from going to the polls. Voter participation hit a 20-year low in 2016, with only 55 percent of eligible voters actually showing up to the polls. In the United States, election day is not a national holiday and is often held on weekdays, meaning that many find it difficult to even make it to the polls.

Vote turnout tends to be lowest among the working classes as well as minority populations for many reasons. For example several U.S. states have approved voter ID laws that see many marginalized groups in those states unable to register due to lack of an ID.

The United States does not have a national ID system and thus a driver’s license or a student card, at least in some cases, is used as an identification document. Working class people, which includes a high percentage of Black people and Latinos, lack such documents and thus are unable to vote in Republican states that have approved such laws. Some states even struck down student IDs as valid for voting.

Therefore it is no surprise that when the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) polled U.S. citizens in the months before the 2016 elections, the results were not what one would expect from a healthy democracy. Sixty-one percent of respondents didn’t feel either major party represented them.

Abroad the United States also has a long history of backing undemocratic and dictatorial regimes.

After the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) deposed socialist Chilean President Salvador Allende in 1973, it backed military dictator Augusto Pinochet, responsible for mass political persecution, pushing the Communist Party of Chile underground, and forcibly disappearing thousands.

Today the United States has not become any more scrupulous in choosing its friends. Among its closest allies is Saudi Arabia, one of the world’s last remaining absolute monarchies that gives its citizens little room for political participation. Rather than calling for a coup — as the United States has done repeatedly in Venezuela — U.S. politicians and media regularly praise Saudi Arabia’s monarchs, even going so far as to say Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman is “revolutionary.”


Venezuela: Democracy Beyond Elections

Since former President Hugo Chavez assumed the presidency in 1998, on a wave of support from the working classes, Venezuela has had 25 elections, five of them presidential.

Of these elections, the opposition and their allied media have cried fraud every single time, except for the times that they won. Chavismo allied forces have lost twice, and the results were recognized and honored each time. Do dictatorships let their opposition win?

Unlike the United States, Venezuela has consistently high voter participation, with roughly 80 percent turnout in 2013’s presidential election, which is among the highest of any country in the region, save Cuba.

Venezuela’s voting system incorporates the latest technology, making use of biometric technology to activate voting machines, carrying out a paper ballot audit of the electronic votes, and transmitting electronic votes through a fully encrypted and isolates network. The process is fully auditable at every step of the process.

A voter has his fingerprint read before voting in regional elections at a polling station in Caracas, Venezuela, Oct. 15, 2017. (AP/Ariana Cubillos)

A voter has his fingerprint read before voting in regional elections at a polling station in Caracas, Venezuela, Oct. 15, 2017. (AP/Ariana Cubillos)

Moreover the 1999 Venezuelan constitution has included articles that allow for a “recall referendum” as a way in which the country’s president, as well as any other elected public servant, could also be challenged between presidential elections through a popular consultation.

Article 72 of the constitution states that “Once one-half of the term of office to which an official has been elected has elapsed, a number of voters representing at least 20 percent of the registered voters in the affected constituency may petition for the calling of a referendum to revoke that official’s mandate.”

In fact the Venezuela opposition used this article in 2004 against late President Chavez when it managed to get the amount of signatures required and people went to the polls on June 8 of that year. The result denied the opposition their wishes with 58 percent voting against removing the socialist president.

And just as in every single previous election and referendum, the National Electoral Council (CNE) has invited all international observers to oversee the process, including the United Nations and the Caribbean Community (Caricom).

Democracy in Venezuela was transformed with the rise of the Bolivarian Revolution. With Chavez, for the first time in the country’s history, a political force that truly represented the will of the people came to power, and communities became active participants and builders in constructing their nation. Most exemplary of this participatory democracy, was the concept of the commune, or organized communities, which became the defining feature of the movement.

The result has been a political process and sense of democratic participation that has firmly embedded itself in the daily life and culture of the country, something the United States has a long way to go to achieving.

Grassroots organizations and organized communities are powerful agents of change in Venezuela. Those who effect change at the local level are given representation at the national. This was exemplified in last year’s constituent assembly elections, when representatives were chosen to bring together workers unions, womens organizations, peasants, neighborhood assemblies and and businessmen.

As in any democracy, the outcome of the elections on May 20 is still uncertain, and a great deal is at stake regarding the path the country will take. What can be said with confidence however, is that when Venezuelans go to vote, they will do so as a people with deeply seated political agency and sovereignty.

The United States has a lot to learn.

Top Photo | Venezuelan presidential candidate Henri Falcon, left, holds up a woman during a rally in Caracas, Venezuela, May 14, 2018. Venezuelans will vote for a new president in the upcoming presidential elections on May 20. (AP/Fernando Llano)

© teleSUR

The post What the United States Could Learn from Venezuelan Democracy appeared first on MintPress News.


Dear friends of this aggregator

  • Yes, I intentionally removed Newsbud from the aggregator on Mar 22.
  • Newsbud did not block the aggregator, although their editor blocked me on twitter after a comment I made to her
  • As far as I know, the only site that blocks this aggregator is Global Research. I have no idea why!!
  • Please stop recommending Newsbud and Global Research to be added to the aggregator.

Support this site

News Sources

Source Items
Dilyana Gaytandzhieva 12
John Pilger 404
The Real News 367
Scrutinised Minds 27
Need To Know News 1183
FEE 2494
Marine Le Pen 190
Francois Asselineau 25
Opassande 52
HAX on 5July 220
Henrik Alexandersson 359
Mohamed Omar 203
Professors Blog 10
Arg Blatte Talar 37
Angry Foreigner 15
Fritte Fritzson 11
Teologiska rummet 32
Filosofiska rummet 60
Vetenskapsradion Historia 104
Snedtänkt (Kalle Lind) 163
Les Crises 1473
Richard Falk 86
Ian Sinclair 68
SpinWatch 40
Counter Currents 4826
Kafila 296
Gail Malone 29
Transnational Foundation 221
Rick Falkvinge 86
The Duran 5597
Vanessa Beeley 78
Nina Kouprianova 9
MintPress 3806
Paul Craig Roberts 945
News Junkie Post 42
Nomi Prins 21
Kurt Nimmo 191
Strategic Culture 2688
Sir Ken Robinson 16
Stephan Kinsella 51
Liberty Blitzkrieg 751
Sami Bedouin 61
Consortium News 1972
21 Century Wire 2611
Burning Blogger 261
Stephen Gowans 64
David D. Friedman 124
Anarchist Standard 16
The BRICS Post 1413
Tom Dispatch 354
Levant Report 17
The Saker 2992
The Barnes Review 445
John Friend 333
Psyche Truth 146
Jonathan Cook 135
New Eastern Outlook 2691
School Sucks Project 1106
Giza Death Star 1383
Andrew Gavin Marshall 15
Red Ice Radio 551
GMWatch 1591
Robert Faurisson 127
Espionage History Archive 34
Jay's Analysis 615
Le 4ème singe 84
Jacob Cohen 185
Agora Vox 8505
Cercle Des Volontaires 406
Panamza 1400
Fairewinds 103
Project Censored 658
Spy Culture 308
Conspiracy Archive 57
Crystal Clark 11
Timothy Kelly 348
PINAC 1482
The Conscious Resistance 471
Independent Science News 63
The Anti Media 4719
Positive News 820
Brandon Martinez 30
Steven Chovanec 56
Lionel 248
The Mind renewed 201
Natural Society 2391
Yanis Varoufakis 725
Tragedy & Hope 120
Dr. Tim Ball 57
Web of Debt 118
Porkins Policy Review 308
Conspiracy Watch 174
Eva Bartlett 531
Libyan War Truth 266
DeadLine Live 1895
Kevin Ryan 60
Aaron Franz 167
Traces of Reality 166
Revelations Radio News 115
Dr. Bruce Levine 97
Peter B Collins 1232
Faux Capitalism 203
Dissident Voice 8885
Climate Audit 218
Donna Laframboise 297
Judith Curry 1021
Geneva Business Insider 40
Media Monarchy 1773
Syria Report 70
Human Rights Investigation 90
Intifada (Voice of Palestine) 1685
Down With Tyranny 9228
Laura Wells Solutions 16
Video Rebel's Blog 401
Revisionist Review 485
Aletho News 16491
ضد العولمة 27
Penny for your thoughts 2489
Northerntruthseeker 1896
كساريات 37
Color Revolutions and Geopolitics 27
Stop Nato 4534 Blog 2484 Original Content 5690
Corbett Report 1963
Stop Imperialism 491
Land Destroyer 1061
Webster Tarpley Website 834

Compiled Feeds

Public Lists

Title Visibility
Funny Public