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Is Venezuela’s Maduro Looking to Nicaragua as a Model for Future Elections?

By: Pedro García Otero - Nov 11, 2016, 11:09 am
A pesar de la evidente baja participación en las elecciones de Nicaragua, el porcentaje oficial de votantes fue de 70%. (Trinchera de la Noticia)
Despite low participation, officials said there was 70 percent turnout. (Trinchera de la Noticia)

Only three Latin American countries — Cuba, Bolivia and Venezuela — have congratulated Daniel Ortega on his reelection, probably because the entire campaign was a farce.

On Sunday, Novemeber 6, empty polling stations across the country somehow correlated to 70 percent participation.

“The President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro Moros, on behalf of the Venezuelan government and people, conveys his effusive congratulations to President Daniel Ortega, Vice-President Rosario Murillo, and the dignified people of our sister Republic of Nicaragua, for the unobjectionable victory of the Sandinista Front in the presidential elections held yesterday,” Venezuela’s congratulatory statement to Ortega read.

Emphasis should be on the word  “unobjectionable.” Take into account that this was a single-party election. Abstention was estimated around 70 percent, and the government eliminated dissidence through the judiciary. It was such an absurd process that Daniel Ortega, aiming to avoid warming the spirits even more, did not even really campaign.

“The victory of the Nicaraguan people is the result of an extraordinary mobilization of the popular forces which, once again, demonstrated their high level of political awareness, and commitment to continuing to strengthen the socialist, Christian and solidarity project that concentrates most of Nicaraguans in the construction of a sovereign, independent, free and peaceful homeland.

The exemplary demonstration of the Sandinista forces, guided by the values of unity, love, respect and dignity, is inspired by the historical gesture of Augusto César Sandino, and enhances the transcendence of this victory against imperialism and its national allies, who seek to restore neoliberalism in our region.”

Apart from the communist fussiness and the tone of Venezuela’s statement, the phrase “to continue strengthening the socialist, Christian and solidarity project,” should draw your attention. This alliance is not made up by the “popular forces.” And Christian? Only as “Christian” as Murillo, who simultaneously declared herself Catholic, Presbyterian and a follower of Sai Baba.

“Long live the Nicaraguan people! Long live Sandino!” the statement concluded.

In Nicaragua there are no “maras.” Crime is under control, unlike in Venezuela, the most violent country on the continent.

Managua’s Example

Are Maduro and Cilia Flores dreaming of something similar to what Ortega is currently doing? There seem to be clear signs that they are.

Obviously, Maduro cannot compete with Ortega’s epic; nor can Cilia Flores, who does not have a resume close to that of Rosario Murillo’s.

Somoza speaks to Nicaraguans on the most varied topics every day. Cilia tried to have a television program on Sunday, but she did not even make it to the third episode despite it being broadcasted on Venezuelan public television, which is basically a 24/7 propaganda channel for the PSUV.

But charm does not matter where authoritarianism exists. Maduro has torpedoed the referendum to have him recalled from office.

Officials are also trying to outlaw the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) for allegedly committing fraud during the referendum, arguing they had found dead people’s names registered in the first one percent of the signatures.

In addition, a PSUV spokesman recently called on the opposition to “prepare” themselves to legalize their political parties, since they did not participate in the last two elections individually, but under the electoral umbrella of the MUD. Now, one percent of signatures will be required to re-register opposition political parties.

Is it possible for Maduro’s administration to ban 65 political parties, and the MUD at the same time?Why not? No one thought he would block the referendum, but he did that with ease.

As a result, Maduro will be able to appear in an electoral charade next year without opposition, or against two or three made-up parties that could never win.

And let the world protest. There will always be a Cuba and Bolivia to, as in the case of “Commander Ortega” and his “eternally loyal companion” Rosario Murillo, endorse so much abuse, while the rest of the region looks the other way rather than applying political and commercial sanctions.

Venezuelans, especially those who lead the opposition (now that 80 percent of the country supports them), hold in their hands the responsibility to prevent Maduro from succeeding in 2017.

Pedro García Otero Pedro García Otero

Pedro García is the Spanish managing editor of the PanAm Post. He is a Venezuelan journalist with over 25 years of experience in local newspapers, radio, television, and online media. Follow him @PedroGarciaO.