At the end of September, the High Representative for Foreign Policy of the European Union (EU), Josep Borrell, announced that he will send a technical electoral observation mission to Venezuela to follow up on the mega-elections of November 21, where all the governors and mayors of the country.
Major opposition parties, as well as many smaller ones, have decided to participate after several years of abstentionism.
The position of the EU is key in the change of opposition strategy, since, after they ignore the Venezuelan institutions – including the electoral body -, as well as the last four elections (which included the 2018 presidential elections), they need to endorse a return to the political path and thus push his followers to participate after having concentrated, fundamentally, on seeking foreign military intervention.
It is there where you understand what Borrell wants to do: excite voting opponents and skeptical leaders to participate and stop the abstentionist path once and for all. “If the entire opposition stands in the elections, including Mr. Guaidó’s parties, well we have to accompany them because it gives them greater guarantees that we are present auditing the system,” the head of European diplomacy explained last week.
The position of the EU is key in changing the opposition strategy, which needs to endorse a return to the political path and thus push its followers to participate after having concentrated on seeking foreign intervention.
However, the problem is that Borrell made a mistake in his statements, perhaps childish, which can lose all the way forward in this change in strategy.
In an attempt to defend his position against those who attack him, accusing him of “giving Maduro oxygen and legitimizing the next electoral event,” Borrell ends by saying that the legitimacy of the process is not given by the participation of the observation mission, but by the final report of this: “That [en referencia a la participación de la misión de observación] does it legitimize the Government of Venezuela or Maduro? Well no. What will legitimize or delegitimize him is the mission report “.
And that is where the anger of the Venezuelan Government and the National Electoral Council (CNE) comes from.
A recent memory: Bolivia
The role played by Luis Almagro, Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), in Bolivia during the 2019 presidential elections is still recent in the memory of Latin America.
In that occasion, the OAS report, which expressly denounced ‘irregularities and malicious manipulation’ of the electoral event, was the springboard and central argument for a coup d’état to be fired that forced the resignation and exile of the then president Evo Morales. In addition, it promoted the effervescence of a right-wing mob that lynched political leaders and, using military and police forces, brought Jeanine Añez to power in a violent way, and later massacred demonstrations in favor of Morales.
As we all know, the EU has had a hostile position against the Government of Venezuela, has violated sanctions and has been very active in legitimizing the coups and violent actions of the opposition in order to overthrow the Executive of Maduro.
Therefore, it is logical that it can be expected that, in the face of a hypothetical electoral disaster for the opposition, the EU could rehearse a movement like that of the OAS in Bolivia.
Both entities have in common that their spokespersons consider, according to their own statements, that they are “grantors of legitimacy”, when constitutionally the only one that produces legitimacy are the voters through the vote.
For this reason, Jorge Rodríguez, president of the Venezuelan Parliament and government spokesman at the negotiating table with the opposition, was emphatic in rejecting Borrell’s statements, clarifying that “If you have political roles there within the EU, that is your problem”. “If so, better not come,” he said.
In addition, last Sunday, the president of the CNE, Pedro Calzadilla, with whom the EU signed an agreement to observe the elections, declared: “I have just instructed that not only an explanation be requested, but that there be an apology to the people of Venezuela“.
Borrell has fallen on a swampy ground
Trying to help the opposition and solve the wrongs in which the EU itself put it in the previous administration, under the command of Federica Mogherini (in addition to the Trump Government), and at the same time trying to defend its position against the European right, that he wants to leave the Venezuelan government under a status of veto and isolation, and also against the United States, who according to Borrell is not “enthusiastic about the idea” of the observation mission, the official passed a limit that now forces him to retract or, otherwise, lose the path taken in the change of strategy.
Borrell has endangered the participation of the observation mission, as he has broken the agreement signed with the CNE and has exposed his intention to intervene politically rather than to contribute to the political normalization of the country.
Most likely, this situation ends up being a case more than those that occurred in the swampy Venezuela issue, but it is also quite likely that it will take the mission’s work seriously
With this statement, Borrell has endangered the participation of the observation mission, as he has broken the agreement signed with the CNE and, in addition, he has again exposed his intention to intervene politically rather than to contribute to the political normalization of the country.
Now, he will have to excuse himself and, with it, be again the talk of the European right, which will accuse him of being weak against the Venezuelan government. Or if not, not participate as an observer and leave the opposition orphaned, which depends on its accompaniment to enthuse its voters and leaders who return to politics after not participating since 2015, the year in which they won overwhelmingly despite the fact that the EU did not send an observation mission.
Remember that once the US Government does not want to know about Venezuela, only the EU serves as an effective ally.
Most likely, this situation ends up being a case more than those that occurred in the swampy Venezuela issue, but it is also quite probable that it will take the mission’s work seriously and that any doubt or complaint about the elections that it carries out will be discarded due to the partialism that it is showing.
In Borrell’s favor, it can be said that he is trying to distance himself from the “Trumpist” policies of his predecessor, Federica Mogherini. This tirade between the European right and left, which produces deep discussions within the EU, is not limited only to Venezuela, but to the latest US decisions to ally with the United Kingdom and Australia in a new pact of Defense called AUKUS, where the EU is ceasing to be the main ally of the US.
So the twist shouldn’t just be where Venezuela is concerned; France is already catalyzing it by calling on the rest of the countries to misalign themselves from Washington’s mandates.
The regionals of November 21 in Venezuela also serve as bait for Europe to abandon its subordination to the US guidelines.
Borrell, who is at the helm of international affairs, is an expert civil servant, so we will see how he comes out of this trance of the tirade with the Venezuelan government, but also how he will develop his policy once AUKUS is established.
Closing this note it was learned that Peter Stano, spokesman for Borrell’s office, tried to lower the intensity of the tirade, stating: “Non-interference in elections is at the core of the mission and it is included in the administrative agreement with the CNE. “In addition, the European official confirmed the mission’s dispatch.
We will see if the Government of Venezuela considers this response sufficient to turn the page or will it wait for a public apology from the high commissioner.
Ociel Ali Lopez
He is a sociologist, political analyst and professor at the Central University of Venezuela. He has been the winner of the 2015 Municipal Prize for Literature with his book Give him more gasoline and the Clacso / Sida award for young researchers in 2004. Collaborator in various media in Europe, the United States and Latin America.
The statements and opinions expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of MRT.
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