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Canadian government support for Venezuelan opposition raises concerns

Demonstrators outside Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland's office in Toronto. Image: Jay Collin

Common Frontiers congratulates the Venezuelan people for holding democratic, free and fair regional elections on October 15. Since 1998, the Bolivarian process has deepened democracy in Venezuela, the government has consistently gone to the polls and to seek approval for its mandate.

We are however deeply troubled by the Canadian government’s hostile position towards Venezuela which was evident in the statement by Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chrystia Freeland, expressing concern over the October 15 elections. Freeland's statement called into question the election as "characterized by many irregularities that raise significant and credible concerns regarding the validity of the results."

The Canadian government echoes the claims of the hard-line sectors of the Venezuelan opposition, which have failed to present any evidence to back up their accusations.  With the governing coalition winning 17 of the country's 23 governorships in the October 15 polls and a 61 per cent voter turnout, the opposition suffered a political defeat. The main opposition coalition has a track record of making unsubstantiated claims against democratic institutions and the electoral process when the results do not favour them. Freeland’s narrative runs counter to reports from international observers on the ground. The Latin American Council of Electoral Experts, composed of 1,300 observers, stated that the elections were clean and transparent, with Council president, Nicanor Moscoso, stating "the vote reflects the will of Venezuelan citizens."

It also contrasts with statements from some prominent opposition figures who recognized the legitimacy of the election results. They blame their electoral loss on a "failed strategy" by the opposition leadership, many of whom led violent street protests this year that resulted in over one hundred deaths.

"What did not work was the leadership! The leadership has to accept that it was not successful," said Jesus Torrealba, former Executive Secretary of the main opposition coalition MUD. "The insurrection failed, they failed at these past elections, and on top of that they don't like dialogue," he said of MUD’s current leadership. "We lost, I say it responsibly," said Henri Falcon, outgoing MUD governor of Lara. "We need courage to recognize truth in adversity."

By unconditionally supporting the opposition, the Canadian government is adding fuel to the politicization in Venezuela that contributes to the conflict.   

We again congratulate the Venezuelan people and recognize the solution to the present crisis in Venezuela can only come through their continued commitment to democracy, a policy of non-intervention, dialogue, and support for the country’s democratic institutions by foreign governments.

Image: Jay Collin

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