As parliamentary elections will take place next Dec. 6 in Venezuela, government violence and intimidation intensify.
This of course is far from coincidental as polls indicate that 80 percent of the county’s population is not supporting the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV).
According to recent polls, the opposition should get 103 representatives in the National Assembly, while the ruling party only 46.
On Nov. 25, the secretary-general of the opposition party Accion Democratica in the State of Guarico, Luis Manuel Diaz, was assassinated during a political event.
The assassination seems to have been the result of the action of a criminal, many believe was part of a strike force for the Venezuelan government.
In a recent interview he gave to a pro-government TV program, Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro sounded defiant. He threatened to “mobilize” people and the armed forces in an apparent effort to discourage protests.
Most likely the ruling party is planning a major fraud. It is clear from the polls that a victory of the ruling party is not logical. Therefore, the government realistically expects massive protests and refusals to recognize the results in case the ruling PSUV wins. .
In addition, for the first time in more than a decade there are signs of cracks in the pro-Venezuela approach of the region. First, the defeat of one of Maduro’s most important allies, the Argentinean Front for Victory Party at the hands of Mauricio Macri.
Macri already stated his anti-Maduro position suggesting Venezuela should be expelled from the South American common market, Mercosur, over the imprisonment of opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez.
In addition, and to the surprise of many, the secretary-general of the Organization of American States (OAS) and someone considered an ally of the Venezuelan government, Luis Almagro, declared that the assassination of Mr. Diaz in Venezuela is not an isolated episode but part of a policy aimed at intimidating the opposition.
This angered Mr. Maduro who called Almagro “trash." The governments of Peru and Colombia rejected Maduro’s insults to Almagro.
For years the OAS refused to condemn Venezuela’s violations of human rights and democracy. Most members saw the Venezuelan government as one of the pillars of a regional coalition with as leftist identity that would reinforce the political power of the region and challenge U.S. influence.
This conception was supported by the governments of Brazil and Argentina, the two South American giants. Both view the world as multi-polar and both resent U.S. hegemony in the region.
The defeat of the pro-Venezuelan party in Argentina and the crisis of legitimacy of the ruling political party in Brazil on grounds of mismanagement and corruption, are likely to weaken the regional support the Venezuelan dictatorship has received in the last few years.
The United States condemned the killing and “called on the Venezuelan government to protect all political candidates." Echoing Almagro, State Department spokesman John Kirby pointed out that “Campaigns of fear, violence, and intimidation have no place in democracy.”
If the Obama Administration believes that Maduro is intimidating the opposition, it better take a foreign policy page from a similar event in the past.
The United States ceased to support the government of Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines as the people and the opposition refused to recognize the results of fraudulent elections.
If we take into account that the Philippines and Mr. Marcos were U.S. allies, how an unfriendly country like Venezuela is supposed to be treated?
Venezuela is not only a violator of human rights.
Relations between Venezuela and terrorist groups have been repeatedly denounced. Likewise, top political and military leaders are being considered by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) major drug traffickers.
Drug trafficking has also involved an adopted son and a nephew of the first couple.
The U.S. must not recognize a victory of the ruling party. It must support the people of Venezuela when they go to the streets to implore for the rights and appeal to the international community for support.
This is not just a big test for Venezuela. It is also for the entire region and for the U.S. moral role and credibility in the world.
Luis Fleischman has worked as adviser for the Menges Hemispheric Security Project at the Center for Security Policy on issues related to Latin America. He is the author of "Latin America in the Post-Chavez Era: The Threat to U.S. Security." Fleischman is an adjunct professor of sociology and political science at Florida Atlantic University Honors College and FAU Lifelong Learning Society. For more of his reports, Go Here Now
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