The Venezuelan National Election Council (CNE – Consejo Nacional Electoral) has announced the election results. As the forecasts had said, Nicolas Maduro has won. It was a tough fight, Maduro has gained 50.76% of the vote against 49.07% for 40-year-old opposition candidate Henrique Capriles. The gap is 236 thousand votes, while the total number of voters was 18 million. It was the shortest election in the country’s history, where the election campaigns have lasted three months normally. The pre-election period was limited by just two weeks this time.
The race was running smoothly, no glitches on the way. All the forecasts were predicting an easy victory for Maduro. The situation had started to abruptly change just before the voting. Some even started to say Capriles had a chance. The microblogging sites of Nicolas Maduro, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela and a number of Bolivarian leaders were infiltrated by hackers. They made public the plans of chavistas to rig the election results. The massive hacker attacks appeared to be well planned by high class experts to create disorder in the run-up to the polling day. Even before the race started, Capriles had said he would not recognize the election results, because the regime exercised total control of the country. He shied away from signing the corresponding CNE document that other presidential hopefuls put their signatures on.
As expected, the Capriles election staff took advantage of the fact it was a narrow win. Along with announcements the election results were rigged, the social networks started to disseminate calls for resisting the chavistas attempts to steal the victory: «Maduro has lost!» The Maduro’s team condemned it and said it was irresponsible behavior, «The opposition candidate should not incite confrontation, while the situation is tense enough!» Jorge Rodrigues, the head of the national campaign for Maduro, told the opposition not to go crazy. According to him, the completely automated voting system used in Venezuela is recognized throughout the whole world as safe, reliable, transparent and 100% auditable.
Maduro constantly received the real time information on voting in different parts of the country, especially in the privileged districts of the capital. He called for peace and said he respected the will of those, who voted for Capriles. Maduro had no objections to the recount of votes announced by the Election Council. He said, «Let 100 percent of the ballot boxes be opened. … We're going to do it; we have no fear». He supported the demand of the opposition and officially appealed to the Election Council with a request to conduct the recount of votes.
A «cacerolazo» is a form of popular protest practiced in certain Spanish-speaking countries which consists in a group of people creating noise by banging pots, pans, and other utensils in order to call for attention. It had not been heard for a number of years, but this time it came back in some districts of Caracas. The barricades made of tires were set on fire. The faces distorted by hatred hit the TV screens again. The voices were raised calling once more for bringing law and order to the country, getting it rid of «Cuban agents» in the palace of Miraflores and weeding out Cuban military from the ranks of the armed forces. The war of rumors got a new impetus.
Does the Maduro’s victory on April 14 guarantee the continuation of Hugo Chavez’s policies aimed at further progress of Bolivarian revolution? Maduro and his supporters exclude anything else. This course is fundamental… Any strategic compromises with the opposition are out of question. Opposing radicals strive to grasp the whole power and do away with all the social and political achievements of Hugo Chavez. Capriles and his team perceive his heritage as an attempt to impose a Cuban model disguised as the XXI century socialism. That is something the opposition flatly refuses, while Maduro follows Chavez focusing on the socialism with a Venezuelan face He stands for free competition between all political forces, but rejects the neo-liberal model as the way for the domination of the country by transnational companies.
It all goes to show the opposition has plans to test Maduro and see how tough he is. Is he able to stand up to the pressure of mighty hostile internal and external forces? The Maduro’s opponents have the means and the will to exert it. 80% of media is under opposition control. Regular brainwashing leads to paradox, No matter how significant were the achievements of Chavez related to social welfare: health, housing, employment pensions and benefit payments boosting the prosperity of Venezuelan families, off and on it is all taken for granted, as a thing to exist under any conditions. Neo-iberal Capriles is temporarily donning a left-centrist disguise. He says people will live better if he comes to power. He will make the right decisions on oil profits and will stop giving it as a gift to the allies of Chavez. That is something many Venezuelans believe in. As a result the ruling party candidate has lost a million votes in comparison with the election on October 7, 2012.
Many believe Capriles will put an end to inflation, crime and corruption once and for all. Somehow it is forgotten that the Bolivarians inherited a lot of problems from the Fourth Republic, ruled by those who are staging protests now. The reports of some Russian TV reporters evoke surprise as they show multiple pictures of decrepit houses on the mountains slopes around Caracas as a proof of the Bolivarian government’s ineptness.
It should be noted that Chavez and his supporters had to overcome the tough resistance of traditional political elite and oligarchs, brave the attempt to stage a coup d’йtat in April 2002 and fight the drawn-out plot to disrupt oil production. It was only in 2004-2005 the Bolivarian government could launch social and political reforms in rather calm conditions. Actually, the achievements of Chavez and his team are the results of just a few years of arduous work. Suffice it to mention that hundreds of thousands of common people have been provided with comfortable housing.
No matter what, the Chavistas have won and there is a reason for festivities. Squibs go up in the air and fireworks lit up the night sky. Nicolas Maduro is receiving victory congratulations. The heads of Latina American and Caribbean states did it first. The head of Russian Federation joined expressing the hope that Venezuela will go on cementing strategic ties with Russia under Nicolas Maduro. President Putin expressed his confidence that «under Mr. Maduro’s leadership Venezuela will continue to strengthen its strategic partnership with Russia, and confirmed his readiness to advance the constructive dialogue on all bilateral and international issues in the interests of both countries and peoples».
No doubt, that is the way it is going to be. In two and a half months Maduro will go to Moscow to join the summit of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF). Certainly, while meeting each other personally, the presidents of the two countries will not limit their agenda by gas and global energy problems…