Ask yourself this, why do elections in Venezuela regularly produce turn-outs of over 80%, but ours do not?
Over the past 15 years democratically elected President Hugo Chavez led a programme of economic and social change, which saw the investment of the country’s wealth in social welfare. Illiteracy has been eradicated, millions of people have access to free health care for the first time and other changes have introduced employment rights never seen before.
Chavez gave ordinary people something to live for, something to fight for, something to vote for.
And they did.
Earlier this month Venezuelans went to the polls to elect a new President following the untimely death of Chavez.
The Venezuelan people have, time and time again, turned out in huge numbers to support him, and now they have done so again for his successor Nicolas Maduro.
In the first past the post election Maduro won by a majority. International observers to the elections were in place; and the processes to safeguard against electoral fraud were scrupulous.
The right wing opposition are stirring up a hornets’ nest contesting the result but at the same time rejecting suggested checks.
In 2005 an alliance of the country’s right wing elite, including the majority of the media and right wing trade union leaders orchestrated a coup to overthrow Chavez. This was filmed – ‘You can’t televise our revolution’ shows the back slapping conspirators in all their ‘glory’. It is a remarkable film and fortunately the coup was defeated by Venezuelans who mobilised in defence of democracy and progress.
Venezuela cut loose from the Washington consensus of neoliberalism and invested publicly owned assets to benefit ordinary people. While George Osborne has been trumpeting the ‘success’ of getting a quarterly growth rate of 0.3% - merely getting the British economy back to where it was 6 months ago, Venezuela has a growth rate of 6% a year.
We need to fight to defend the Venezuelan people’s right to decide their future at the ballot box. We must insist that people respect the result of the election, and especially that Western governments, some of them elected on much shakier electoral systems, and with much smaller majorities, don’t intervene in Venezuela’s democracy.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the bloody overthrow of Chile’s democratically elected President Salvador Allende. The brutal military dictatorship of General Pinochet was aided and abetted by the USA’s CIA and government of the time. We must not allow history to repeat itself.
You can show your support by joining the www.venezuelasolidaritycampaign.com.