Absurdities With Respect to International Law

Berlin declares elections in Venezuela to be "neither free nor fair," continues to recognize a failed putschist as the country's "president".

BERLIN/CARACAS | | venezuela

BERLIN/CARACAS (Own report) - In the aftermath of the elections in Venezuela, the German government persists in recognizing the self-proclaimed president and failed putschist, Juan Guaidó, as the country's head of state. "Our support" for "interim president" Guaidó will continue, Miguel Berger, Minister of State in the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced. Guaidó, who declared himself "president" on January 23, 2019 - and whose calls for a coup d'état in the months that followed went unheeded despite the massive support of western powers - is, in the meantime, seen as increasingly marginalized among Venezuela's right-wing opposition. In view of the failure of the coup attempts, the former Spanish Prime Minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, called on the EU to change course in its relations to Venezuela. Continuing to recognize neither the elected President Nicolás Maduro nor the elected parliament but instead the non-elected Guaidó, "can lead to the greatest absurdity that the history of international law has known," Zapatero warns.

Parliamentary Election in Venezuela

The electoral alliance of the ruling PSUV party, the Gran Polo Patriótico Simón Bolívar, has won Sunday's election by a large margin of 69.3 percent of the votes. The alliances of the right-wing opposition, Alianza Democrática und Alianza Venezuela Unida, trailed with 18.8 and 4.2 percent respectively, whereas the left alliance Alternativa Popular Revolucionaria received 2.7 percent of the votes. The right-wing opposition was divided: The faction around Guaidó, who, since the beginning of last year had been seeking in vain to stage a coup, called for a boycott of the elections, while other factions of the Venezuelan right-wing, pointing to the failure of the coup attempts, preferred participation in the elections. With just 30.5 percent, the voter turnout was extremely low - similar to Rumania's parliamentary elections (33.3 percent) that were also held on Sunday, December 6. This is largely attributed not only to the opposition's call for a boycott, but to the desperate economic situation - for many people, the struggle for survival predominates everything else - along with the Covid-19 pandemic, which, thanks to drastic government measures, has been significantly less severe in Venezuela, than in many other Latin American countries, particularly in neighboring Columbia and Brazil.

International Standards

As expected, the election has been strongly criticized by the German government and the EU. Already in late November, a delegation of the Comisión de Expertos Electorales de Latinoamérica (Latin American Council of Electoral Experts) considered the run-up to the election as "transparent." "All political organizations ... confirmed that the electoral system was extremely trustworthy", Nicanor Moscoso from Ecuador, Chairman of the Council reported.[1] Following the election, the Committee of about 200 international observers gave a positive verdict: the voting had complied with international standards. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, however, called the election a "charade" - an interesting assessment given the current dispute over the US presidential elections.[2] For its part, the EU declared that in its view, the elections in Venezuela do not meet the international minimum standards of a credible process." A spokeswoman of the German foreign ministry concluded, "from our point of view, the elections were neither free nor fair and did not meet the international minimum standards." The credibility of Berlin and Brussels' assertions is somewhat tarnished, given the fact that the EU had rejected Caracas' invitation to send observers and therefore was not even present at the event it criticized.

More Dead Civilians than in Afghanistan

In fact, the transatlantic West, which occasionally has serious conflicts with one another [3] on various issues, has until now maintained a united front in their blockade and subversion policy toward Venezuela. In November 2017, Brussels also imposed sanctions, joining the US embargo policy toward this South American nation; and most recently, on November 12, prolonged them to November 14, 2021. Alongside freezing the assets and banning entry currently of 36 Venezuelans, these sanctions include a ban on supplying weapons and instruments that could be used for domestic repression.[4] In practice, the EU also abides by US sanctions, given the fact that they claim extraterritorial validity - in violation of international law. Therefore, Spain's Repsol and Italy's Eni stopped buying Venezuelan oil after their US special permits ran out at the beginning of November.[5] The de facto complicity with US sanctions is all the more serious, because as was pointed out in a study published by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) in Washington, it is estimated that the sanctions caused more than 40,000 deaths from 2017 to 2018.[6] By comparison, the United Nations estimates the number of civilians killed in the war in Afghanistan during 2017 and 2018 at 7,242.

Berlin's Failed Putschist

The Covid-19 pandemic could not induce western powers to, at least, temporarily interrupt their murderous sanctions imposed on 'Venezuela. They even persist in their attempts to overthrow the elected government in Caracas. On December 4, the State Minister in Germany's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Miguel Berger twittered the reiteration that the German government persists in "our support" for the "interim president" Juan Guaidó. The opponent of the government, Guaidó, had declared himself president of Venezuela on January 2, 2019, and was recognized as such by the governments of the United States, Germany, and a number of other western countries. This is a totally unfounded gesture, with no basis in international law, allowing the usurpation of office in a foreign country.[7] After claiming his presidency, Guaidó spent several months trying to convince the Venezuelan military to carry out a putsch. The German government usually claiming to promote "democracy," was supporting his efforts.[8] Unfortunately for Berlin, Guaidó is increasingly marginalized within the Venezuelan opposition. Berlin's "President" in Caracas, a failed putschist, has in the meantime become a marginal character.

"Like a Colonial Master"

In light of the increasingly embarrassing policy of attempting to overthrow the government - in violation of international law - criticism of the continued support for Guaidó is growing within the EU. A representative of the EU External Action Service (EAS) was quoted saying, "during consultations, no consensus of EU member nations has been reached recently" on this issue. Contrary to Berlin, "the majority of EU states" do not "want to commit themselves to a particular procedure," in relationship to Guaidó.[9] In reference to the EU's refusal to recognize the results of the Venezuelan elections, the Irish MEP Clare Daly complained that Josep Borrell was behaving "like a colonial master." The Union must finally "respect the law."[10] Spain's former Prime Minister José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero is also criticizing the sanctions and putsch policies. Zapatero declared that it can lead to the "greatest absurdity that the history of international law has known," should Brussels persist in refusing to recognize the parliament that was elected on Sunday, and President Nicolás Maduro, elected May 20, 2018, while simultaneously treating Guaidó as the "president."[11] Zapatero called on the EU to make "serene and calm reflections" on its policy toward Venezuela.

 

[1] Philipp Zimmermann: Wahlvorbereitungen in Venezuela gehen in die Schlussphase. amerika21.de 28.11.2020.

[2] US Condemns Venezuela Election as 'Charade'. voanews.com 07.12.2020.

[3] See also A Difficult Ally (II), Transatlantische Sanktionen (II) and "Angriff auf die Vormacht des Silicon Valley".

[4] Rat verlängert Sanktionen gegen Venezuela bis zum 14. November 2021. consilium.europa.eu 12.11.2020.

[5] Venezuela crude production, exports recover. argusmedia.com 01.12.2020.

[6] Mark Weisbrot, Jeffrey Sachs: Economic Sanctions as Collective Punishment: The Case of Venezuela. Center for Economic and Policy Research. Washington, April 2019. See also Die Ära der Sanktionskriege (IV).

[7] See also Die Weltenherrscher and Die Weltenherrscher (II).

[8] See also Aufforderung zum Putsch, Aufforderung zum Putsch (II) and Der Pakt der weißen Eliten (II).

[9] Harald Neuber: Bundesregierung hält an ihrem Präsidenten in Venezuela fest. heise.de 08.12.2020.

[10] Philipp Zimmermann: Gemischte internationale Reaktionen auf Parlamentswahl in Venezuela. amerika21.de 09.12.2020.

[11] Francesco Manetto: Zapatero pide a la Unión Europea que cambie de postura sobre Venezuela y el Gobierno de Maduro. elpais.com 07.12.2020.