More than 80 embassies around the world tuned in on October 17 as President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro spoke at a televised press conference, following the country’s October 15 gubernatorial, regional elections.
According to confirmed election results, The United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) won governance over 18 of Venezuela’s 23 states, including Bolivar, where results were confirmed during the conference. A total of 61.14% of the country’s population showed up to the polls, a significant increase from 2012’s 53.94%.
“This has been a historic victory,” Maduro said in his one hour and forty five minute-long opening address, before taking questions from press in the audience and overseas.
Holding nothing back, Maduro resorted to continuous boasting of the transparency of the country’s election process, declaring that audits were conducted before, during and after votes were cast. He also claimed to be showing the world that “democracy is best”, a response to longstanding accusations of authoritarianism during his role as President following the passing of Hugo Chávez.
The PSUV’s success, and the President’s reiterations of election transparency, come amidst claims from various opposition leaders insinuating fraud had a part to play in the regional elections’ end results. To this Maduro rebutted,
“. . . the process was the same process as 2015 (national assembly) when the opposition fully accepted the results [because] they won. Now the results are different, [they are saying] it is fraud.”
On the subjects of violent protests and political unrest plaguing Venezuela in the past few months, during a press briefing held separately, Her Excellency Leiff Escalona, Venezuelan Ambassdor to Saint Lucia, expressed her confidence in the restoration of peace in her home country.
“After the National Constituent Assembly in July the calm came . . . some mayors in areas where most of the violence and the deaths took place – about three of them – left the country,” Escalona stated. This on the heels of recent reports that a number of the country’s politicians have been jailed and others are on the run. “Now we have calm. After the elections everyone has agreed to work,” Escalona added.
The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela holds diplomatic ties with more than 80 countries, including Saint Lucia. In the wake of Prime Minister Allen Chastanet’s announcement of potential visa restrictions on Venezuelans travelling to Saint Lucia, journalists also questioned the ambassador on whether the results of this election will inspire the resumption of favourable operations between the two countries. Escalona informed, “We don’t have the interest to push anybody right now; we prefer to wait for the decision from each country, because our decision is to respect their decision. But Saint Lucia has the proposal.”
Venezuela’s elections, after being postponed in 2016, and again in April of this year, were initially scheduled for December 10, 2017. However, following a general sense of urgency, the election date was brought forward to October 15.