…referendum was a resounding failure for Maduro Govt – VP Jagdeo
On Sunday, the Nicolas Maduro Government held its controversial referendum seeking approval from its citizens to annex Guyana’s Essequibo territory. But despite decades of indoctrination and weeks of rhetoric from the Maduro regime, the actual vote saw a sparse turnout of voters.
Venezuelan authorities claimed that 10.5 million votes were counted, but have shied away from giving the number of voters. However, Henrique Capriles, a major figure of the Venezuelan Opposition, has put the actual voter turnout at 2.1 million voters.
This, he said, is an abstention of over 89 per cent, compared to the eligible voting population. In a post on X, formerly Twitter, Capriles, at one point imprisoned by the Nicolas Maduro regime on what was widely seen as politically instigated charges, lambasted the Venezuelan Government for its resounding failures.
Capriles said that Maduro is out of excuses, pointing out that the day after the referendum, the economic and social problems facing Venezuelans remain unchanged. According to him, the time for a regime change is now.
“Without a doubt, Maduro once again turned an opportunity to do something good for all Venezuelans into a resounding failure. He has never done anything for Essequibo or the people. He won’t do it now. A new Government will have that historic responsibility. Maduro ran out of another excuse,” the Venezuelan politician said in his translated tweet.
“I hope that his own people demand that while he has power, he addresses the economic and social problems suffered by the vast majority of Venezuelans. Tomorrow, December 4, all the country’s problems are still there. 2024 has to be the year of hope so that Venezuelans can have the change they deserve and recover their quality of life and the reunion of the Venezuelan family.”
Meanwhile, Guyana’s Vice President, Bharrat Jagdeo, has described Venezuela’s December 3 referendum, where they sought approval from the citizens to annex Essequibo but failed to galvanise any significant turnout of voters, as an overwhelming failure for the Maduro regime.
Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo, in an interview with BBC News from the COP28 conference in Dubai, noted that only half of the eligible voters in Venezuela turned up and voted at the referendum.
“Everyone in the world expected, once the referendum was held, that they would have a yes vote. But we believe it was a resounding failure for the Maduro Government. Considering only half of the total eligible voters turned out and of the half that turned out, not a 100 per cent voted in favour of a yes vote.”
“So less than half of the eligible voters voted in favour of the questions posed here. So, it’s a defeat, we believe, for Maduro. We saw it as a distraction from the problems in Venezuela and now we have concerned all day long, the Latin American news agencies have been pointing out that there was a low voter turnout. Then the electoral council announced a figure that we can’t believe,” Jagdeo said.
The Vice President expressed the view that the actual figures released by the Venezuelan electoral authority, may have been rigged… a suggestion that has certainly been echoed by the Venezuelan Opposition.
“So, we believe that even with the rigging of the figures, they still didn’t have half of the eligible voters. On an issue that Venezuela has, over the past 50 years, been saying to their people that Essequibo belongs to them. So, it’s a predictable outcome, but the entire world is in support of Guyana on this matter. And the ICJ has made a very definitive ruling,” Jagdeo told the BBC.
Under the watchful eyes of the world, Venezuela on Sunday went ahead with its planned referendum containing all five questions as is, including a question asking its citizens for approval to invade Essequibo and create a Venezuelan state out of 2/3 of Guyana’s territory.
The National Electoral Council of Venezuela had reported that there were over 28,000 polling stations across Venezuela and the process was even opened to Venezuelans with expired ID cards. At the initially planned close of polls, the voting deadline had to be extended.
And while millions did vote in the referendum, the event was overshadowed not only by the disapproval of the regional and international community but by opposition to the referendum within Venezuela itself.
On the day of the vote, videos had circulated online of Venezuelans urging persons not to be brainwashed by the referendum. There have been reports of Government employees and school children in Venezuela being forced to vote in the referendum.
In fact, in one video a school teacher can be seen standing on a stage warning that students are being deceived and manipulated with the referendum in high schools. In another video, a woman who identified herself as Rebeca Mora accused the Maduro regime of kidnapping her 14-year-old son.
In the video, she claimed that her son was being pressured into voting in the referendum and was being threatened with repeating a school year. Further, it was alleged that these tactics were being used throughout Venezuela to get millions of people to go out and vote. (Jarryl Bryan)