Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Supporters of late Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez take part in a campaign rally Nov. 28, 2015, held by pro-government candidates for the upcoming parliamentary elections, in Caracas. Venezuela will hold parliamentary elections on Dec. 6. (Photo: Reuters)

Brazil Should Stand Firm Against U.S.-Led Campaign to Undermine Venezuelan Elections

Mark Weisbrot

Washington has been trying to get rid of the Venezuelan government for more than 13 years, going back to the failed military coup of 2002. The U.S. State Department acknowledged that Washington “provided training, institution building, and other support to individuals and organizations understood to be actively involved” in the coup. They stepped up funding to opposition groups after the coup government collapsed. Since 2004, the U.S. has also supported regime change by electoral means, but the Venezuelan opposition has never been able to win a national election.

Now Washington’s hopes are high for the Venezuela’s National Assembly elections on December 6, with the economy in recession, and grappling with shortages and high inflation. As usual, the U.S. government and its allies — in the media , NGOs, and even U.S. law enforcement agencies — have been campaigning vigorously.

But there is something even more sinister going on here. While the Venezuelan opposition is leading in national polls, it very likely will not do as well in winning Assembly seats as these polls would indicate. That is mainly because Venezuela’s single-chamber legislature gives more than proportional representation to smaller states. It is not so disproportional as in the U.S. or Brazilian system, with their separate Senate chambers, but it is significant. Also, the governing party (PSUV) has millions of members and a record of getting their voters to the polls, while the opposition has nothing comparable.

Since the media is focusing on the national polls, the stage is set for the Venezuelan opposition to claim fraud, as they did in the 2013 presidential elections. In 2013, the opposition took to the streets with violent demonstrations, and Washington supported them by refusing to recognize the results. There was absolutely no doubt about the results — Venezuela has one of the most fraud-proof voting systems ever invented, which former U.S. President and election expert Jimmy Carter called “the best in the world.”

In 2013, it was the intervention of South America that forced Washington and its only two allies, Jose Miguel Insulza (the Secretary General of the OAS) and the right-wing Popular Party of Spain, to back down and join the rest of the world in recognizing the results. Lula in particular made unusually strong public criticisms of Washington for supporting this destabilization effort.

Even if the opposition wins a simple majority in the Assembly, they may still claim fraud if they don’t reach the two-thirds majority that would give them much more power. The current U.S.-led international campaign has dangerously focused not only on de-legitimizing the government of Venezuela, but also its elections. This effort has been joined by OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro, who published an 18-page letter trashing Venezuela ahead of the elections. He was strongly denounced for his actions by Uruguayan ex-President Pepe Mujica, whom Almagro had served as foreign minister until March of this year. And now the election of Mauricio Macri — a politician who had previously appealedto U.S. officials to help him fight against his own government — as president of Argentina has given the U.S. another ally in its campaign.

The Brazilian government should stand firm, as it did in 2013, against this sordid attempt to undermine the legitimacy of Venezuela’s elections. And Almagro has clearly violated his mandate as Secretary General of the OAS by actively campaigning against a member country. He should resign.

The original version of this article, published in Portuguese, first appeared in Folha de Sao Paulo, Brazil's largest circulation newspaper, on December 3. 


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
Mark Weisbrot

Mark Weisbrot

Mark Weisbrot is Co-Director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), in Washington, DC. He is also president of Just Foreign Policy. His latest book is "Failed: What the "Experts" Got Wrong about the Global Economy" (2015). He is author of co-author, with Dean Baker, of "Social Security: The Phony Crisis" (2001).

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Hopes Rise for Return to Iran Nuclear Deal Destroyed by Trump

"We stand five minutes or five seconds from the finish line," said one negotiator, who added that "three or four issues" that are "sensitive for Iranians and Americans" remain to be resolved.

Brett Wilkins ·


Sinema Received Over $500K From Private Equity Before Shielding Industry From Tax Hikes

"Remember the days when taking half a million bucks from an industry, and then passing legislation that only benefits that industry, while passing the costs onto everyone else, would be called corruption?" asked one critic. "Today it's just lobbying as usual."

Kenny Stancil ·


Wildlife Defenders Slam Senate Dems' Bill for Not Protecting Refuge in Alaska

"We will never stop fighting to protect these sacred lands, the Porcupine caribou, and our communities," vowed the Gwich'in Steering Committee's executive director.

Jessica Corbett ·


Fears of Hate-Inspired Serial Killer Grow as 4th Muslim Man Murdered in Albuquerque

"We're scared for our families, we're scared for our children," said one local Muslim leader. "And we are incredibly confused about why this is happening."

Jake Johnson ·


'Let Those Numbers Sink In': At Least 45 Palestinians Killed During Israeli Attacks on Gaza

The dead include 16 children and four women, according to Palestinian officials, who said that at least 360 others were injured.

Brett Wilkins ·

Common Dreams Logo