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Nicolas Maduro, Chavez party wins close vote in Venezuela

By Brian E. Muhammad -Contributing Writer- | Last updated: Apr 17, 2013 - 11:34:24 AM

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Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro
( - In a special presidential election characterized as cantankerous and rambunctious, the people of Venezuela spoke at the ballot box: They chose the Bolivarian Revolution and the way of Chavista, the political ideology based on the ideas, programs and government style of President Hugo Chávez.

His death from cancer made the April 14 election to determine who would lead the country. 

“Hugo Chávez’s legacy continues in Venezuela with President- elect Nicolas Maduro, but there’s no question that Chavez could never be replaced,” tweeted attorney Eva Golinger, who hosts the RT television program Detrás de la Noticia and is the award-winning author of The Chávez Code.

       NEWS ANALYSIS      

Bound by the dictates of the constitution, an election for a new president was mandated after the March 5 death of President Chávez. And with a new election, political wrangling intensified between the United Socialist Movement—the ruling government— and the opposition coalition backing Henrique Capriles, a state governor who showed impressive electoral numbers against Mr. Chávez last October.

With 50.66 percent or 7.5 million votes Mr. Maduro, the interim president and Mr. Chávez’s handpicked successor slightly edged Mr. Capriles, the opposition candidate who garnered 49.07 percent or 7.2 million votes. Mr. Capriles has contested the election outcome, charging voter corruption, and has demanded a slip by slip recount. 

There are 19 million registered voters in the South American country and participation was down from last year when President Chávez was running for reelection. Voter turnout was 78.71 percent, down from 80.4 percent in October.

Pan African News Wire editor Abayomi Azikiwe spoke to The Final Call about U.S. corporate media emphasis on dissimilarities between the president-elect and his popular predecessor. U.S. media highlighted post-Chavez difficulties for Mr. Maduro who ran on the Chavista vision.

It was an attempt to “sway public opinion in Venezuela … but at the same time … have influence on public opinion here in the United States. It shapes how people actually look at the Venezuelan process, for example, they continuously during the lifetime of President Chávez referred to him as a dictator—that in and of itself is an assault on the political system.”

All of it was designed to influence the internal politics in Venezuela and interfere with the continuation of the Bolivarian Revolution through Mr. Maduro, he said.

“Inside Venezuela you have a class and political struggle like you have in any other society and those who were against Chávez in most instances were those who represented the higher echelons of society there, or those who wanted to maintain privilege within Venezuelan society or those who disagreed with the foreign policy of Venezuela,” seeking a closer alliance with the U.S. government, said the news editor and analyst.

The defeat of Mr. Capriles, the pro-elite and pro-U.S. candidate, is seen as a conquest over Washington where covert machinations were consistently in motion over the years to reverse the independent position of Venezuela gained under Mr. Chávez and to marginalize Venezuela’s influence in the region and on the world stage, he added.

Critics of U.S. foreign policy in South America maintain the certainty that Mr. Chavez’s opponents were “Made in USA,” Eva Golinger wrote in a op-ed piece.

“Through the National Endowment for Democracy, a congressionally created entity funded by the State Department, and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Washington has channeled more than $100 million to anti-Chavez groups in Venezuela since 2002,” she wrote.

substantial funds have been used to run opposition candidates’ campaigns, as well as finance those well crafted media campaigns against the Chávez government that flood the national and international press.”

Mr. Azikiwe predicted U.S. efforts to destabilize and interfere in the internal affairs of Caracas will continue, citing reports of possible covert efforts to overthrow the government of Nicolas Maduro in the days leading up to the election. The U.S. wants access and control of the oil wealth that was the financial bedrock of Venezuelan sphere of influence, he said.

The weak poll numbers has called into question the future of Venezuela coupled with the transition of former President Chávez because he was a charismatic leader who influenced progressive growth in the Caribbean, Central and South America and actively pursued economic unification from the Americas to Africa. President Chávez and the Bolivarian Revolution he guided and the oil rich nation he governed was loved by many, but also hated by some including the United States—its imperialist neighbor to the north.

When Mr. Chávez and the United Socialist Movement came to power, Venezuela was controlled by wealthy oligarchs and much of Latin America was in the grip of brutal dictators largely propped up by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. President Chávez and the Bolivarian Revolution interrupted their game and rolled back the oil wealth of Venezuela to benefit the quality of life for his people. These actions fed the desire for self-determination in other Latin American countries that turned toward more anti-imperialist and progressive governments.

“We saw the shift towards the left with the coming to power of Evo Morales in Bolivia and also President (Rafael) Correa in Ecuador and of course the posture of the government in Brazil and Argentina is to the left of what is desired by the United States,” Mr. Azikiwe pointed out.

Mr. Capriles whose platform includes reducing the power of the state; decreasing monetary aid from oil given to allied nations; renegotiation of terms with Washington and welcoming more foreign investment and privatization of industries.

The 40 year old politician has encouraged supporters to flow into the streets in protest if the ruling government is formally sworn in as the election winner.

For now the Bolivarian revolution continues, albeit not perfect or with a strong mandate according to ballots. It will continue to be tested by domestic and foreign foes.

It remains to be seen how President-elect Maduro will fare. “He is a very strong Chavista … however he doesn’t perhaps have the same personal attraction, the same charisma as Chávez, so it remains to be seen how effective he will be,” said John Perkins, activist and author of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man.

Related news:

Hugo Chavez, the life and legacy of a revolutionary  (FCN, 03-14-2013)

Secret document reveals US Gov't strategy to destabilize Venezuela  (FCN, 04-17-2013)