On Monday, Venezuelan election authorities formally declared Nicolas Maduro the winner of the presidential race by a 1.6% margin. Although this was undoubtedly a tight election, 270,000 votes is a safe win, especially in comparison to the election results seen in the United States. Ironically enough, the Obama administration is currently declining to recognize Maduro’s victory, instead joining the opposition in a call for a recount.
In truth, America's refusal to recognize Maduro as president of Venezuela has absolutely nothing to do with concerns about voter corruption or claimed interests in spreading democracy. Instead, it is an attempt at publicly demeaning and disrupting Venezuela’s democratic process and pursuing U.S. economic interests.
Venezuela’s high-tech voting system contains two record of every vote. After choosing their candidate on computer touchscreens, voters then place signed, printed receipts inside a ballot box. Even though the voting structure was praised by former president Jimmy Carter and is known to be one of the most heavily audited and transparent systems in the world, the demand for a recall from both the United States and the opposition does not come as a surprise. The U.S. government’s behavior toward Venezuela has remained malicious ever since Chavez was elected, which soon resulted in the regain of their large oil reserves.
But the hypocrisy here is glaring. While U.S. government officials are pointing their fingers at Venezuela’s voting system, they ignore the dirt on their hands.
The past 2012 presidential election was one known for its unending attempts at voter suppression efforts: long lines, complicated forms, and voter intimidation. Obama promised solutions to these problems many times over, most notably during his State of the Union address. Unfortunately, his promise to advance our democracy was a façade, as he shortly appointed a big-name, Romney campaign lawyer to the voting commission. If there is ever a commission set to fail, it is this one.
Additionally, recall that in 2000, the Bush-Gore race came down to merely couple hundred votes in the state of Florida. When Bush won with the overall Electoral College numbers, the recount uproar from the American people was quickly denied. In fact, even though the margins were smaller than the recent Venezuelan presidential race, not one outside country meddled in the voting affairs of the U.S. election or refused to recognize President Bush. To do so would have been viewed as ridiculous and laughable! It is equally ridiculous for the U.S. to deny Maduro recognition, particularly when Venezuela averages a 80% voter turnout rate, and an arguably more democratic voting system.
President Maduro put it perfectly to Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday:
"Who are you to talk about Venezuela with the many problems the United States has, economic, social and political problems that are overwhelming the people of the United States? Take your eyes off Venezuela. Stop with the scripted intervention. Close your eyes when listening to a U.S. government official, and you’re listening to any of these bourgeois leaders. The U.S. will not recognize the election result. We don’t care about recognition. We decided freely, and we will be free and independent, with or without you. We don’t care about your opinion."
On Monday, the Venezuelans people once again demonstrated their determination to democratic elections. The United States government was likewise consistent in its lack of concern for spreading democracy to Venezuela and its people, while keeping its economic interests on the forefront.