National Electoral Council Tibisay Lucena has stated that incumbent President Nicolas Maduro has won Venezuela’s Presidential election with 68% of the vote. The current numeral breakdown of votes saw Maduro winning over 5.8 million votes while his closet opponent, the neo-liberal candidate Henri Falcon received 1.8 million votes.
While the US is already crying foul over alleged electoral irregularities, when former US President Jimmy Carter monitored Venezuela’s 2012 Presidential election, he described Venezuela’s democratic process in the following way,
“As a matter of fact, of the 92 elections that we’ve monitored, I would say that the election process in Venezuela is the best in the world”.
Maduro’s victory is moreover a victory for the Bolivarism of his late predecessor Hugo Chavez. Chavez was without doubt the most magnetic Latin American leader of the late 20th and early 21st century. During his time in power, he dramatically reduced the poverty gap as well as the related social equality gap. Chavez eliminated illiteracy, built more hospitals and clinics than any of his predecessors, eliminated child homelessness, increased the supply of clean water and dramatically decreased infant mortality. Furthermore, Chavez decreed that exposure to and participation in culture and the arts was not merely a privilege but an inalienable right.
Chavez’s brand of Bolivarianism helped turn a dramatically unequal society with great natural wealth into a society where the poor started to be looked after more than in any previous political generation. These measures were necessarily popular among Venezuela’s millions of impoverished citizens and unpopular with the business oligarch community as well as the United States. Indeed it was US interests that stood the most to lose when Chavez nationalised the country’s large oil industry.
Since the unexpected death of Chavez in 2013, the country has struggled with globally falling oil prices which have been compounded with a deluge of US sanctions that have accelerated rapidly since Donald Trump came to power. While oil has shot up in recent weeks, particularly in the aftermath of US withdrawal from the JCPOA, Venezuela remains in need of fresh investment to kick-start the economy and curtail inflation.
In the last year, Maduro introduced and championed the history making El Petro the world’s first cryptocurrency which is backed by oil. By pegging the new crypto to Venezuela’s vast oil reserves, Maduro intends to use sales of El Petro to encourage fresh and non-traditional sources of investment in the country. While the US Treasury Department has banned the sale of El Petro in the US, Russian financial institutions remain keenly interested in the cryptocurrency as do investors from Singapore to Saudi Arabia.
Beyond this, Maduro will need to take advantage of his close partnerships with China, Russia, Iran and increasingly Turkey when it comes to attracting new investment into Venezuela all the while forging good ties with nations throughout the world that are key markets for Venezuelan oil.
The present the upsurge in the price of Bent Crude is due not to demand outstripping supply but due primarily to a combination of Saudi Arabia’s price safeguarding mechanism agreed between OPEC and Russia in order to guarantee that the price of energy does not become too deflated. In the last month, this reality has combined with speculative factors stemming from political instability in the Middle East.
While all energy producers stand to benefit from the rise in Bent Crude from just around the $50 mark in May of last year to nearly $80 today, Venezuela’s long term ability to adequately finance the crucial social programmes implicit in Bolivarianism will be made possible by diversifying the economy so that it is not entirely reliant on high oil prices and that furthermore, it is less susceptible to the aggressive sanctions coming out of Washington.
The key to this is a cultivation of new international partnerships and an intensification of existing partnerships all the while developing new forms of both physical and digital infrastructure in the country. Nicolas Maduro is ultimately the best man suited for this task, not only because a clear majority of Venezuelan voters wish to continue on the course of Bolivarianism, but because the present alternatives would see a return to neo-liberalism, inequality, exploitation and unipolarity.
Nicolas Maduro is equally a victim of his predecessors success and a victim of changing trends in the global economy which in the case of Venezuela includes a tidal wave of US sanctions against an otherwise self-sufficient oil rich nation. Marudo however does possess the tools to bring his country out of the present crisis and build upon the undeniable successes of Bolivarianism for the benefit of future generations of Venezuelans.