Nicaragua’s Roberto Rivas may not be the best judge of electoral credibility, but he’s certainly consistent in his assessment of what passes for a free and fair polling process.
On Tuesday afternoon, Nicaragua’s de facto electoral chief—accused of rigging the past three polls on behalf of the ruling Sandinista Front—called his Venezuelan counterpart, Tibisay Lucena, to congratulate her on a bang-up job.
Unfazed by Venezuela’s political crisis, which has led to seven deaths and more than 70 injuries amid bouts of post-electoral street violence, Rivas congratulated Lucena for her “magnificent” work.
“I talked to my colleague by phone yesterday at 2:40 in the afternoon to congratulate her for her magnificent management of an electoral process that was transparent, orderly and democratic, and which resulted in compañero Nicolás Maduro being elected president of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela,” Rivas said in a press release.
“At the same time, I expressed the solidarity of Nicaragua’s Supreme Electoral Council following the acts of vandalism by the enemies of democracy in her country in recent hours, as part of a plan of violence that aims to destroy regional electoral buildings and generate internal stability,” Rivas said.
Rivas also discredited rumors on Twitter that Lucena has fled the post-electoral turmoil in her country to go hide in Panama. “In no moment has she left the country,” Rivas said.
“Finally, I want to repeat my congratulations and my confidence in this electoral process—it’s a lesson in democracy that millions of Venezuelans trust in their institutions,” Rivas said.
What Rivas failed to mention is that the other half of the country is expressing its mistrust in Venezuela’s electoral system and are demanding a full recount after the initial tally showed the incumbent candidate with a twiggy 1.6% advantage over the long-shot challenger.
Opposition candidate Henrique Capriles claims he won the election and says a recount is necessary to determine a legitimate winner. Capriles’ call for a recount has been echoed by the U.S. and the Organization of American States. Other countries, including Nicaragua, have recognized Maduro’s victory.
Venezuela’s institutions, which are controlled by an increasingly hysterical cadre of Chavistas who continue to howl about coups, violence and international conspiracies, are closing rank around their president-elect.
The president of Venezuela’s Supreme Court today claimed that a manual recount is impossible and blamed the street violence on Capriles. The Chavista president of Venezuela’s Congress has called for a full investigation of Capriles amid shouts to put the opposition candidate behind bars.
The official violence even spread to the halls of Venezuela’s congress today, where two opposition lawmakers, Julio Borges and William Dávila, where reportedly attacked by and injured Chavista lawmakers during a session of congress.
But by Rivas’ electoral standards, that’s all just part of a job well done.
For more reporting on the Venezuelan crisis, follow photo-journalist Girish Gupta.