Latin America

Maduro’s ruling Socialist Party wins control of Venezuela legislature

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's ruling party has won a sweeping victory in parliamentary elections, further consolidating his grip on the Latin American country's power institutions.

The opposition, led by US-backed figure Juan Guaido, had urged their supporters to boycott the vote.

However, despite the partial boycott by the opposition bloc, Venezuelans turned out to vote for Maduro and his left-wing allies in Sunday’s legislative elections.

National Electoral Council president Indira Alfonzo said Maduro and his ruling Socialist Party allies gained 67.7 percent of the vote with over 80 percent of the ballots counted.

The anti-Maduro opposition bloc, which broke the boycott, gained 18 percent of the vote.

With this victory, Maduro’s ruling Socialist Party will consolidate its control over an expanded 227-seat National Assembly.

Maduro told reporters after casting his vote in Caracas that the time had come to end the opposition’s domination of the National Assembly.

The Venezuelan president held the legislative body responsible for “the plague of sanctions, cruelty, pain and suffering” inflicted on the impoverished population of the country. 

Maduro called on the opposition to join in “with one voice, to ask the new US government of Joe Biden to lift all the sanctions.” 

The legislative elections, contested by about 14,000 candidates from more than 100 parties, came with the country in a deep political and economic crisis – suffocated by runaway inflation, paralyzed in endless queues for petrol, lacking water and gas supplies, and afflicted by sudden power cuts due to the crippling sanctions designed and executed by Washington and its lackeys.

On Saturday, Maduro met with heads of foreign delegations invited to Venezuela to monitor and ensure the legitimacy and fairness of the crucial elections.

In incendiary remarks, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo denounced Venezuela’s  legislative elections as “a fraud and a sham.” 

“The results announced by the illegitimate Maduro regime will not reflect the will of the Venezuelan people,” wrote Pompeo on Twitter. 

Responding to the rant, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza pointed to Washington’s failure in exerting political pressure and called Pompeo “a zombie.”

“A zombie has spoken! Although according to his Boss [US President Donald Trump] there was a fraud in the US elections. @SecPompeo, take truth calmly and resignedly: in Venezuela, your failure is absolute. We hope that soon Diplomacy returns to the State Department and the White House,” the Venezuelan foreign minister said.

The US has been pursuing regime change in Venezuela with the aim of installing its ally Guaido to ensure Washington’s access to the country abundant energy and mineral resources.

The United States, the European Union and several Latin American countries have thrown their weight behind Guaido.

The 37-year-old speaker of the National Assembly, who had proclaimed himself interim president in January 2019, called on his supporters to stay at home and boycott the elections.

Guaido and his allies plan a week-long plebiscite from Monday seeking to discredit the results of the election.

However, political analysts see Guaido’s new push as a desperate move with no impact on the result. 

Guaido’s defeat is likely to leave him increasingly isolated, analysts say, after he will lose his position as the speaker of the National Assembly.

Maduro’s victory, however, is greeted by Caracas’ international allies Iran, Russia and China, lending added legitimacy to his government. 

Maduro, a former bus driver who became president following the death of his mentor Hugo Chavez in 2013, was re-elected in 2018 despite the US-orchestrated opposition.

Since November 2019, the US-led sanctions have pushed inflation in Venezuela to above 4,000 percent.

To make matters worse, Venezuela has been hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic intensified by the US sanctions.

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