Venezuelan Electoral Postmortems
by Stephen Lendman
Chavistas celebrated Sunday’s victory. Bolivarianism triumphed over exploitive neoliberal harshness. In open, free, and fair elections, Venezuelans got to choose. It’s constitutionally mandated. Every vote counts equally.
Americans don’t have that right. On November 6, choice won’t be the ballot. Column A matches Column B. Money power chooses candidates and winners. Some election! No wonder half the electorate ops out.
On October 7, Venezuelans turned out in record numbers. Over 80% of registered voters showed up. Turnout was so great, many waited hours to exercise their franchise.
It’s important because what they say matters. They wanted Chavez for another six years and got him. They want Bolivarianism sustained and deepened.
Chavez pledged he’ll do it. He keeps promises. Vows US leaders make aren’t worth the paper they’re written on. Obama broke every major one he made.
It shouldn’t surprise. It’s the American way. Bolivarianism chooses another. Its good example shames Western faux democracies. Today they’re more hypocrisy than ever.
Prioritizing wealth, power and imperial interests means depriving most people of vital social services. No wonder unemployment, poverty, homelessness, hunger, and overall human misery keep growing.
Venezuela is mirror opposite. Beneficial social change is prioritized. It shows. Poor people are helped generously. Child mortality fell from 20 per 1,000 to 13. Unemployment dropped from 14.5% to 7.6%. Income inequality is Latin America’s lowest. Poverty was cut in half. Extreme poverty fell from 23.4% to 8.5%.
According to Census figures, half of US households are impoverished or bordering on it. Real unemployment approaches 23%. Most jobs are temporary or part-time low pay/poor or no benefit ones. They’re rotten. With no other choice, people take them. It’s either that or starve and sleep on city streets.
America’s industrial base is a shadow of its former self. It’s located offshore in low wage countries. US workers are left high and dry. Conditions keep worsening, not improving.
Venezuela’s far from perfect. Violent crime, corruption, high inflation, infrastructure needs, and a menacing northern neighbor are worrisome. Chavez’s health is uncertain. His cancer’s in remission. If it returns and he can’t serve, who’ll succeed him isn’t clear.
Venezuela’s poor love him for good reason. They turned Sunday evening into New Year’s eve. Victory was sweet, and they celebrated.
Sour grapes showed up prominently elsewhere. It’s standard practice after every Bolivarian triumph. More on that below.
Venezuela is comprised of 23 states, a Capital District (Caracas), and offshore Federal Dependencies. Chavez carried 21 states and Caracas. Lead opponent Capriles took Zulia and Carabobo states.
Venezuela’s state-of-the-art electoral process shames America’s. It’s far less susceptible to fraud and identity theft than elsewhere.
Postal and proxy votes are excluded. Fingerprints identify voters electronically. Paper receipts verify ballots cast. They’re recorded and available for recounts if needed.
Every candidate was identified by name and full color photo. It helps assure votes are cast as intended. Observers monitored fairness. Opposition supporters turned out in force. They agreed. Voting was open, free and fair.
The Union of South American Nations praised what went on. Mission head Carlos Alvarez said:
“Venezuela has given an exemplary demonstration of what the functioning of democracy is and has taught a lesson to the world.”
“Venezuela strengthened democracy in the nation and the region.”
Alvarez also praised Venezuela’s National Electoral Council (CNE). He called its work “extraordinary.” It’s a model to help “achieve the construction of a South American electoral system.”
Throughout Sunday, everything proceeded smoothly. No major disturbances occurred. Opposition strategists hoped otherwise. They planned to highlight fraud and other irregularities but couldn’t find any.
Capriles had no recourse but to concede defeat. He left unsaid why most Venezuelans spurned them. They need no explanations. Triumphant Chavismo is all that matters.
On January 10, Chavez begins his fourth term. He told supporters he’s not waiting. “(F)or me,” he said, “the new cycle begins today. We’re obligated to be better every day, more efficient, obligated to respond with greater efficiency to the needs of people.”
He promised “to be the best president that I have been in these years.” Take him at his word. He’ll try because he cares. Imagine if US and other Western leaders felt this way and showed it. Perhaps another time in a new era, but not now. Other priorities take precedence.
Beating up on Bolivarianism
If you can’t beat ’em, beat up on ’em. Sour grapes postmortems made headlines. Scoundrel media editorials and op-eds featured them.
The Wall Street Journal‘s Mary O’Grady is ideologically to the right of many neocons. Her style reflects character assassination. Her rhetoric drips with vitriol. She wins awards for genuflecting to power and suppressing vital truths for power brokers who pay her.
Her electoral postmortem was typical. She headlined “Chavismo Wins, Venezuela Loses,” saying:
“Control of the media and the voting polls, plus some old-fashioned fear, have won Hugo Chávez six more years.”
False, false and false! Corporations control virtually all Venezuelan major broadcast and print media. They unanimously endorsed Capriles. Venezuela’s electoral process is called the world’s best for good reason. Voters turned out en masse because it matters. Neoliberal extremists alone stoke fear.
O’Grady lied saying internal Capriles polling showed he’d “win by three to four percentage points.” Days before October 7, opposition insiders privately conceded. They knew they had no chance to win and said so.
Chavez “seized control of television and radio stations and used them during the campaign…” Those same stations opposed him. They promoted Capriles. They featured him on air.
“Mr. Capriles tried to tap into (Venezuelan) misery by presenting himself as a social democrat….” He’s a wealthy neoliberal hard-liner. He deplores beneficial social change. If elected he’d return Venezuela to its bad old days. Voters wanted none of him and his extremism.
O’Grady’s litany of canards infested her piece. Ones included sound like America, not Venezuela. She never misses a chance to beat up on Chavez. She was true to form calling him a “dictator,” a “world-class demagogue.”
He “mortgaged Venezuela to help him buy another six years in power….(N)o one believes that the final vote spread reflects the public’s opinion of the winner.”
“With China underwriting his populism and Cuba manning his intelligence and security apparatus, his near-term comfort in Miraflores palace is practically guaranteed.”
O’Grady reflects the worst of US opinion journalism. Yellow can’t begin to describe it.
WSJ writers Jose de Cordoba and Sara Schaefer Munoz had their say. They were dishonest in less strident form than O’Grady. They headlined “Victory Tightens Chavez Grip on Power,” saying:
“Another decisive electoral victory for Hugo Chávez has convinced many Venezuelans in the opposition that his only vulnerabilities are a turn for the worse in the ailing president’s health or a sharp drop in oil prices.”
“The win allows Mr. Chávez to press ahead with his Socialist revolution, deepening government intervention in the economy, including price controls and nationalizations.”
“Observers see him as likely to continue his role as the leading voice against U.S. interests in the region, enhancing alliances with everyone from Tehran to Beijing.”
What else would a Murdoch publication say. They have marching orders, salute and obey. So does Carnegie Endowment for International Peace analyst Moises Naim. The Journal writers quoted him saying:
“You have the head of a petrostate with authoritarian propensities who controls the legislative branch, the supreme court, the electoral tribunal and the oil industry which generates 98% of the country’s wealth, without any checks and balances.”
The entire article wreaked with misinformation. Corporate media scoundrels offer nothing else.
Bloomberg headlined “Chavez Election Victory Signals Accelerated Socialist Revolution,” saying:
Since taking office in 1999, “he nationalized more than 1,000 companies or their assets…” Nationalizations were far fewer. He paid fair compensation every time. No one was cheated.
“With voters giving the former paratrooper another six-year term, he’ll probably push policies, such as currency controls and takeovers, that have driven away investors….”
Chavez combines populism with business friendly practices. Level playing field politics perhaps best describes it. Before crisis conditions erupted in 2008, banker profits were so high they said they were “having a party.”
During today’s hard times, Venezuela’s growth is impressive. Q II 2012 advanced 5.4%. In contrast, Europe’s in recession. America is close. Economist Jack Rasmus predicts it in 2013. He calls overall conditions dire.
In a section devoted to Chavez, The New York Times said the “fiery socialist defeated a youthful, more moderate challenger….”
“He is an ailing and politically weakened winner facing an emboldened opposition that grew stronger and more confident as the voting neared, and at times seemed to have an upset victory within reach.”
The Times spent the last dozen years or longer beating up on him mercilessly. It can’t bear admitting social democracy works. It supports wealth and power. It spurns ordinary people. It calls fascist America democratic. It calls the real thing in Venezuela autocratic. Truth was never The Times’ long suit.
The Dallas Morning News was no better. Its editorial headlined “Venezuela’s sad electoral statement,” saying:
“Score another lamentable election victory for Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. The fiery, anti-U.S. revolutionary now has another six-year term to continue with the plans he launched after his first election in 1998 to dismantle Venezuela’s free-market economy and pursue his anachronistic socialist agenda.”
Washington has “national security” concerns to worry about for another six years. Chavez “rankled US leaders” by friendly relations with governments America opposes.
His “so-called Bolivarian revolution has proved hollow. Revolutionary socialism is almost impossible to sustain….Chavez should increasingly be dismissed for what he is – a toothless tiger.”
Media scoundrels call success failure. Their arguments don’t wash. Rhetoric substitutes for hard truths. Too bad so many people believe them. Venezuelans aren’t fooled. They support what works and showed it.
Pre-election, the London Guardian headlined “Hugo Chavez: a strongman’s last stand,” saying:
“No one ever accused Hugo Chávez of thinking small. He casts politics as an existential contest between good and evil, the oppressed and the oppressor.”
The election will decide “the comandante(‘s)” fate “and his revolution. (It) hangs by a thread….Chávez surrounded himself mostly with mediocrities, valuing loyalty over competence.”
“His legacy will be debated for decades….Many outsiders made up their minds long ago. There was Chávez the dictator who jailed opponents, sponsored terrorists and left his people hungry.”
“Chavez….is a hybrid: a democrat and autocrat, a progressive and a bully.” The Guardian also called him “a caudillo (strongman)” running a “dysfunction(al)” economy.
It’s hard imagining any broadsheet letting this trash end up in print. Inconvenient truths are ignored. Admitting them would discredit everything else said.
Shameless editorials and op-eds hounded Chavez for years. In its November/December 2005 Extra edition, Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) headlined “The Op-Ed Assassination of Hugo Chavez,” saying:
Pat Robertson literally wanted him killed. Even so-called “moderate” columnists beat up on him mercilessly. The usual characterizations call him a strongman, autocrat, dictator, another Hitler.
“In studying the opinion pages of the top 25 circulation newspapers in the United States during the first six months of 2005, Extra! found that 95 percent of the nearly 100 press commentaries that examined Venezuelan politics expressed clear hostility to the country’s democratically elected president.”
It was no different earlier and perhaps worse today. The longer Chavez survives and gets majority Venezuelan support, the more media scoundrels beat up on him.
It’s nearly impossible finding major media commentaries portraying him accurately. Doing so would be out of character. Contributors would be out of work. Party line opinion only is tolerated. Truth and full disclosure are prohibited. It’s the American way.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at email@example.com.
His new book is titled “How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.