The Venezuelan socialist party, which has ruled the nation for 16 years, is still reeling from its decisive loss in the December 6 legislative elections, with the nation’s highest-ranking politicians threatening voters who oppose socialism that poverty and sickness are now on the horizon.
“Now comes the punishment for the people when they take away your pensions, your homes, when there is no more free medicine or health care, when there is no more free education,” asserted National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello on his weekly television show. Cabello, the nation’s second-in-command, is poised to lose his position, as the Venezuelan Socialist Workers’ Party (PSUV) lost its majority in the legislature to the anti-socialist Democratic Unity Table (MUD) party. Cabello also claimed the MUD had promised an end to the crippling, multi-hour supermarket lines Venezuelans must make to buy their rationed groceries “on December 6, and they have already failed to keep their promises.” There is no evidence of MUD party members promising an overnight solution.
Cabello’s warning that free social programs will evaporate with a non-socialist party in leadership echoes the threats of President Nicolás Maduro, who stated on television that public housing projects may disappear. He did not blame the opposition party for that, but threatened to cut programs himself as punishment to voters.
“I wanted to build 500,000 housing projects next year, but now I’m doubting it. Not because I can’t build them, but I asked for your support and you didn’t give it to me,” he told the audience.
Maduro spoke shortly after the results of the election surfaced officially on Sunday night into Monday morning, using a more conciliatory tone, vowing to respect the voters’ wishes and cooperate to the best of his ability with the government. “With our morals, with our ethics, we will recognize these adverse results, and accept them and tell our Venezuela that the Constitution and democracy has triumphed,” he said, though he added some blame to a nameless “they” for waging “economic war” on Venezuela, an accusation he regularly levels at the United States.
Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, who has never won an election, reportedly sent Maduro a letter congratulating him on his speech.
This week, Venezuelan socialists have dedicated themselves to both campaigns for re-energizing the socialist base and smearing the opposition to the best of their ability. While Maduro vowed to respect the election results, he has already begun exploring ways to undo the voting numbers, appointing a committee of government attorneys to investigate “vote-buying” on the part of the opposition.
For the base, he ordered an extensive meeting to bolster “a crusade to strengthen the Revolution,” lasting “however many hours it takes.” He has also established the creation of something called the “Economic Congress for Socialist Thought.”
The MUD won 110 seats in the National Assembly on Sunday, with the PSUV remaining with only 55 seats. This allows the democratic party to enact legislation that can free political prisoners and limit price controls, though Maduro has threatened to veto any human rights legislation.