While much of the global left has circled the wagons in defense of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro’s naked power-grab, there have been some important exceptions to this trend.
Asa Cusack — managing editor of the London School of Economics’ Latin America and Caribbean blog — wrote an excellent piece in the Guardian slamming Maduro’s attempts to circumvent the original Chavismo constitution while not falling into the trap of uncritically praising or supporting the leaders of the opposition, namely Leopoldo López and Henrique Capriles.
Michael Roberts — a Marxist economist — laments the fall in mass support for Maduro’s government-turned-regime among the Venezuelan masses due to catastrophic economic policies. The poverty rate of 48% in 2014 exploded to an incredible 82% in 2016; the minimum wage’s value declined 75% in just five years; in-patient mortality rates have jumped by a factor of 10 and infant mortality rates have seen a 100-fold increase. Read his full blog post for even more harrowing statistics about life under the ‘progressive’ Maduro regime.
Luis Almagro — former foreign minister in Uruguayan president José “Pepe” Mujica’s leftist government and now general secretary of the Organization of American States — condemned Maduro’s regime for inflating turnout figures, an allegation later confirmed by the company that provides Venezuela with its voting machines and which has run the country’s previous elections without irregularities.
The Socialist International issued a statement condemning Maduro for continuing down the anti-democratic road which is reproduced in full below:
“The Socialist International has followed with grave concern the recent events in Venezuela, where yesterday the government of President Nicolás Maduro held a vote to elect members of a constituent assembly via a process that ran contrary to Venezuela’s current Constitution. This election in turn did not meet the minimum requirements and guarantees to ensure that the vote was fair and its results credible. It was also an election marked by repression and violence that cost the lives of more than 10 Venezuelans; these adding to the 120 fatalities that have already resulted from the repression that has taken place during demonstrations over the last few months.
“Given the lack of legitimacy of the path taken by the Venezuelan government, the Socialist International, along with condemning this serious breakdown of democratic order, today reiterates its deep solidarity with every citizen who has been suffering from the consequences of the serious political, economic, social and humanitarian crisis to which the country has been subject for a long time; a crisis that is deepening and worsening the further Venezuela moves away from good governance, and respect and recognition of the institutions of democracy.
“In the current circumstances, Venezuela is at a critical juncture in its history, and nobody can deny the enormous responsibility that falls upon President Maduro and members of the current Government. Today, we are at the limits of a point of no return, and the country must urgently regain its ability to recognise the diversity that accompanies political life in democracy, or it will continue to descend into the authoritarianism and repression that we have seen over recent days.
“Venezuela, which has always been an ally in the struggles for democracy and freedom in the face of past dictatorships in Latin America, does not deserve this fate.
“The government of Venezuela must respect the life, liberty and rights of all of its citizens and must release immediately all political prisoners. The government should listen to those who have an opinion to contribute to democratic coexistence, beginning with those who have been duly elected to do so, the members of the National Assembly, elected in December 2015 for a tenure lasting until 2021. The government must respect and recognise the mandate given by the people to the National Assembly and the powers of this institution in line with the country’s constitutional system.
“At this crucial time for Venezuela, the Socialist International stands side by side with its people and calls on the entire international community to act decisively to preserve Venezuelans’ freedom and all of their rights in response to the difficult juncture with which they are faced at this time.
“The Socialist International will remain in contact with its member parties in Venezuela, and with the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), in order to continue supporting their efforts for democracy and peace.”