Venezuela: Election Controversy

Venezuela: Election Controversy

Venezuela President Nicolás Maduro‘s decision to grant pardon to over 100 political opponents and activists has drawn suspicion from critics, who have been protesting against his regime for years. The episode is a manifestation of the turnaround of the country’s fortunes, once considered the wealthiest Latin nation, to now being a center of hyper inflation and extreme poverty.

Crux of the Matter

Recent Pardon
Venezuelan Government recently announced pardons for more than 100 people, with the list including political opponents either in prison or in refuge in foreign countries. President Nicolás Maduro also terminated criminal cases against several opposition leaders and activists, with the decision coming ahead of the 6 December Congressional elections.

Experts have labelled the move as the “largest amnesty” move in Venezuela for more than a decade. However, the popular opinion is that the decision was taken to make amends before elections as opposition leader Juan Guaidó, backed by the US, has announced boycott of elections due to unfair voting conditions.

Juan Pablo Guanipa, an opposition leader whose victory in a governor’s election was declared null and was accused of treason without any evidence, labelled the move a farce.

Maduro, an executioner who has destroyed the institutionality, [has] no authority to forgive anyone.

Juan Pablo Guanipa

The decision has divided the opposition as some leaders have announced to fight elections against Maduro, ignoring boycott calls from Guaido.

Maduro And His Rise To Power

  • Maduro worked as a bus driver in his early days.
  • He served as the Foreign Minister under President Hugo Chávez from 2006 to 2013.
  • 2013: He became the President after the death of Chávez.
  • 2016: Vote to remove Maduro occurred with more than 1.8 million petitions to remove him. However, he declared the voting “fake” and continued his reign, and soon implemented a state of Emergency afterwards.
  • 2017: Maduro set up a new constituent assembly to rewrite the Constitution.
  • 2018: Maduro was re-elected as the President in controversial elections.
  • The US, the UK, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, etc declared the elections rigged and unfair and recognized opposition leader Guaidó as the President of Venezuela. On the other side, Russia, Turkey, China, Mexico, Bolivia, etc backed the regime of Maduro.
  • Annual inflation rate became 1,300,000% by November 2018. Prices of basic food and daily use items doubled every 19 days on average by the end of 2018.
  • Venezuela has been in a recession since 2014, and more than 3 million citizens have left Venezuela to escape extreme poverty and authoritarian measures.

Also Read: Venezuela: The Oil Problem

  • United States of Banana is a postmodern geopolitical tragicomedy by the Puerto Rican author Giannina Braschi. The book dramatizes the global war on terror and has Hugo Chávez as a heroic character in it. 
  • Colectivos are irregular, leftist Venezuelan community organizations that support Nicolás Maduro and the Bolivarian government. Colectivo has become an umbrella term for armed paramilitary groups that operate in poverty-stricken areas and attack individuals, engaging in “extortion, kidnapping, drug trafficking and murder”.
  • Popular Will is a political party in Venezuela founded by former Mayor of Chacao, Leopoldo López. The party describes itself as progressive and social-democratic and was admitted into the Socialist International in December 2014.