US secretary of state’s comments on Venezuela election strike to the heart of US hypocrisy

John Bolton, Donald Trump and Mike Pompeo.
Support us and go ad-free

Venezuela recently held elections for its National Assembly, the South American nation’s unicameral legislature. The US and its allies have denounced the election as fraudulent. But something is seriously amiss. The US government is currently led by a man who is openly attempting to undermine democracy in his own country. And comments from one of that government’s major figures show just how flagrant that hypocrisy has become.

Venezuelan opposition loses its parliamentary majority

On December 6, Venezuelans went to the polls for the first time since the beginning of the US-backed coup. The governing United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV in its Spanish initials) and allied parties won over 67% of the vote. As a result, they have enough seats to form a majority and therefore will replace the opposition as the new majority coalition.

The National Assembly had been controlled by parties in opposition to the PSUV for the last five years. In 2015 the opposition coalition won a landslide election in the wake an economic crisis caused in large part by falling oil prices. In January 2019, Juan Guaidó – a previously little-known figure from the opposition’s most far-right faction – became head of the legislative body.

Guaidó demolishes his own claim to the presidency

The US recognized him as ‘interim president’ on the dubious grounds that the previous presidential election was ‘fraudulent’. Guaidó based his claim to the presidency on an (again dubious) interpretation of terms of the Venezuelan Constitution relating to the president vacating his office and democratic breakdown. Right-wing Latin American governments along with the US’s traditional foreign policy allies in Western Europe followed the US’s lead and recognized Guaidó as Venezuela’s leader. However, a majority of the world’s countries, including four of the five major emerging ‘BRICS’ nations’ (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), continue to recognize president Maduro as the country’s legitimate head of government.

The US and Venezuelan opposition are claiming that these latest parliamentary elections are fraudulent as well. But the reality is that they would never have accepted the result, whoever won them. At the US’s behest, most of the major opposition parties boycotted the vote. Notice how this actually completely undermines Guaidó’s own claim to the Venezuelan presidency – by his and the US’s own logic! After all, he bases his claim on his position as head of the National Assembly, which he now can’t possibly lead because he, by definition, can’t be elected since he isn’t participating in the election.

The US’s usual dirty tricks

Moreover, the boycott forms part of a tried and tested three-card trick that the US and its internal allies in Venezuela play in order to undermine the legitimacy of elections. It goes something like this: the opposition boycott results in a PSUV landslide and low turnout; this is then itself presented as evidence that the outcome isn’t legitimate.

This year’s National Assembly elections are far from the first time the US and Venezuelan opposition have pulled this trick. They did so during the most recent presidential election in 2018 and also during Venezuela’s 2005 legislative elections. Tellingly, usually there are factions from the more moderate wing of the opposition that aren’t willing to go along with the façade and break with the US line by participating anyway.

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free
Familiar hypocrisy…

This year, however, there is another layer of hypocrisy at play. Because at the very same time as the US is denouncing an alleged breakdown in democracy in Venezuela as part of a transparent coup strategy, the current administration in Washington is attempting to undermine the result of its country’s own presidential election for its own partisan interest. As The Canary has previously reported, president Donald Trump has been consistently claiming that the election in which he lost to Democratic Party challenger Joe Biden was ‘stolen’ – and all without providing a shred of evidence to support this claim.

The Trump administration perhaps reached peak audacity with a tweet from secretary of state Mike Pompeo. Pompeo posted on Twitter:

Just a few weeks earlier, when asked whether Trump would permit a smooth transfer of power to the incoming Biden administration, Pompeo responded: “There will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration”.

…and irony as well

In addition to this flagrant hypocrisy, there is also a layer of irony to this. Because even in previous elections where you haven’t had a far-right authoritarian like Trump calling the result into question, the US’s democratic credentials still haven’t been particularly impressive. For instance, US presidential elections are decided not by the popular vote but by an “electoral college” that gives disproportionate representation to rural, sparsely populated, and overwhelmingly white and right-leaning states like Wyoming and the Dakotas. So far this century, the electoral college was won by a candidate who lost the popular vote on two occasions – George W. Bush in 2000 and Donald Trump in 2016 (both Republicans).

Moreover, US elections to this day have been marred with extensive voter suppression – particularly of ethnic minorities, immigrants, and poor people – not to mention corrupted by the influence of money. As a result of the infamous Citizens United Supreme Court decision, there is now practically no limit to the amount that candidates for public office can receive from corporate interests.

Zero credibility

As a result, candidates from both of the US’s major parties take sometimes as much as hundreds of millions from corporations and billionaires to bankroll their electoral campaigns. And as The Canary has reported on numerous occasions, it’s now hard to determine which party is worse. Democratic Party presidential candidate Joe Biden has taken millions from Wall Street just as his predecessor and fellow Democrat Barack Obama did.

Clearly, the US has no credibility when it comes to lecturing others about deficits in democracy – whether it be in Venezuela or anywhere else for that matter.

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons and Wikimedia Commons

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us
  • Show Comments
    1. The election result reflects the will of the American junta ruling over the people who don’t know anything about what been truly done in their name. But they are pissed as “We the People”, and what hasn’t happened to make it seem they are people at all.
      Corruption is a terrible thing for the unknowing, and for those with a simple faith in having aspirations.

    2. It’s more than irony and hypocrisy on the part of the USA. It is US terrorism in Venezuela. While the US have been decrying Russian hacking and blogging to influence US elections, the USA themselves have been doing all but military interventions in Venezuela to undermine the democratically elected Socialist leaders.

      The USA is an international terrorist. Venezuela is the target of some of that terrorism. It’s time that the Dollar lost it’s Reserve status worldwide.

    Leave a Reply

    Join the conversation

    Please read our comment moderation policy here.