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Maduro confronts worsening international backlash on day after re-election

Maduro confronts worsening international backlash on day after re-election
Copyright REUTERS
Copyright REUTERS
By Cristina Abellan MatamorosJoël Chatreau
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Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro faces a worsening international backlash after Sunday's election results.


Venezuelans will have to live with another six years of Maduro’s government, even if abstention rose to 52% — the highest since 1958. Nicolas Maduro, who’s tied down by the worst economic crisis to hit the country, showed everyone on Sunday that he was still very much politically alive as he cried out in a victory speech after the electoral board declared him the winner: “We are the force of history transformed in a permanent popular victory!”

But Maduro’s victory has drawn a strong international backlash

The election, however, was denounced as a sham by main opposition candidate Henri Falcon and western foreign powers.

In Spain, former Caracas mayor and opposition leader Antonio Ledezma said on Twitter:

"[By not voting], Venezuelans have led a strong civil act of disobedience that left the dictator without any legitimacy, and fueled our right to defence [against Maduro's government] with the backing of the international community in order to lead Venezuela to a transitional government."

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also spoke out about the elections on Twitter: "Sham elections change nothing. We need Venezuelan people running this country ... a nation with so much to offer the world."

On Monday, US President Donald Trump imposed another round of economic sanctions against Venezuela in which US citizens are banned from buying Venezuelan debt for cash. This will strongly hit Venezuela’s oil industry since US companies purchase important quantities of oil from the South American country.

The US had said It wouldn’t recognise the results of the election, even before they were announced.

The Lima Group, made up of Latin American countries plus Canada, also condemned the election results and recalled their ambassadors from Caracas in a move against Maduro's re-election. In a statement published on Monday, they said they did not recognise the legitimacy of Venezuela’s presidential election “because it does not adhere to the international standards of a democratic, free, fair and transparent process”.

Group members include Peru, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Panama, Santa Lucia, Canada, Colombia, Honduras, Costa Rica, and Guatemala.

An inflation problem that won't go away

Hit by its worst economic crisis yet, Venezuela and Maduro's government face an inflation problem that will not go away. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates that inflation levels will reach 13,000% sometime this year.

And for many Venezuelans, rising inflation is driving a daily struggle. A month's salary is barely enough to buy a litre of milk or a kilo of sugar. Additionally, the lack of basic essentials and the constant power outages make daily life a true hardship for Venezuelans.

As a result, the crisis-hit country has seen a mass exodus in the last couple of years with an estimated 1.6 million people fleeing Venezuela between 2015 and 2017, according to the International Organisation for Migration.

Political Repression

On top of the economic crisis is worsening political repression, with the government's police starting to crack down hard on protesters shortly after Maduro's first election in 2013. In only a few months, this political repression had cost the lives of 40 people in 2014. By mid-2017, the  death toll had more than tripled to 125.

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