Democracy Denied in Venezuela

Oct 22, 2017

The United States applauds the courage, determination, and will of the Venezuelan people who tried to exercise their constitutional right to vote in the October 15 gubernatorial elections.

Candidates loyal to the authoritarian regime of President Nicolas Maduro claimed victory for 18 of 23 governorships contested in the October 15 elections, according to the regime-controlled National Electoral Council, or CNE. But opposition leaders rejected both the process and the tally, citing exit polls that indicated their candidates won many more states.

Venezuela Regional Elections
Venezuela Regional Elections

Opposition members decried that voting sites were shifted to distant neighborhoods at the last minute, confusing and imposing barriers to voters in opposition strongholds. The government-stacked CNE issued bad-faith, misleading ballots, including opposition candidates who already lost in the primaries. No independent international observation was allowed, and the CNE also denied accreditation for one of Venezuela's most important independent observer groups to monitor the election. In essence then, the regime says of the results, “Take our word for it.”

"We encountered an absolutely fraudulent system," said Carlos Ocariz, the opposition candidate in Miranda, the nation's second most populous state where the candidate of the ruling socialist party won.

State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert condemned “the lack of free and fair elections” noting “the voice of the Venezuelan people was not heard.” She said,“Our previously stated concerns were unfortunately realized: lack of independent, credible international observers; lack of technical audit for the National Electoral Council's tabulation; last minute changes to polling station locations without public notice; manipulation of ballot layouts; and limited availability of voting machines in opposition neighborhoods.”

As long as the Maduro regime conducts itself as an authoritarian dictatorship, the United States will work with members of the international community and bring the full weight of American economic and diplomatic power to bear in support of the Venezuelan people as they seek to restore their democracy.

The United States continues to call on the regime to provide for the humanitarian needs of its people, respect the constitution and National Assembly, allow a true democratic process, and release all political prisoners.