The Venezuelan National Elections Commission (CNE, in Spanish) last night declared Nicolas Maduro to be the winner of the presidential election by a 50 to 49 percent margin. Four of the five CNE members are appointees of the late Hugo Chávez and are ideological allies of Chávez-appointed Nicolás Maduro. All night long there were credible reports that opposition candidate Henrique Capriles was ahead in the vote count. At the first of many signs of tampering by the Maduro administration, Capriles warned that a massive fraud was under way. It now appears that the fraud was consummated. The opposition is asking for the “audit” of all votes required by the law.
If I were still assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs I would urge the secretary of state to not recognize the results of this election unless and until independent auditors documented that it was accurate. Even then, it was not a free or fair election. All assets of the national government were mobilized to support Maduro and international observers and media report widespread “irregularities” in the process.
It is time to end all fraudulent elections in Latin America, whether perpetrated by centrist, left-, or right-wing governments. The U.S. government must not be a party to this fraud. The will of the Venezuelan people is being thwarted. The U.S. must not be complicit in this crime. Democracy in our hemisphere is in peril.