Update, May 31st, 2018 at 10:00am: This post has been updated to reflect developments in the international response from Canada, Cuba, and the United States.
The regime-choreographed elections carried out on Sunday May 20th unsurprisingly led to Nicolas Maduro winning his second term as the 50th President of Venezuela. Maduro will have another six year turn in power, despite registering the lowest voter rate recorded in a presidential election in Venezuela’s electoral history.
But with no guarantees of free, fair and internationally observed elections, a divided opposition and more political prisoners than all other countries in the hemisphere combined—338 as of May 14th—Maduro’s “victory” came as no surprise.
As expected, Venezuela’s traditional allies, democracies in the region, and the international community at large has started to react to the May 20th electoral outcome.
In the words of David Smolansky, exiled former mayor of El Hatillo, after May 20th there is no gray zone in Venezuela: “Either you support the dictatorship or you are against it, both domestically and internationally.” Below, find a regularly updated log of the individual and collective reactions to the elections.
Venezuela’s traditional regional allies: Bolivia, Cuba, El Salvador, Ecuador, and Nicaragua
It’s no surprise that Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez addressed a letter congratulating Nicolás Maduro, and signaled how the “Bolivarian and Chavista community has demonstrated once again its determination in defending the legacy of Chavez.” A few days after the election, Díaz Canel visited Venezuela as a show of support for his counterpart Nicolas Maduro. This is Díaz Canel’s first trip abroad as President of Cuba.
Bolivian President Evo Morales and Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega also congratulated Maduro on his reelection. Morales praised his win as a victory against foreign interventionism.
El Salvador, another long-time ally of the Venezuelan government, also came out in support of the election. Salvadoran president Salvador Sánchez released a statement congratulating “the citizens of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela for the democratic election day.”
In a TV interview, Ecuadorian Foreign Minister María Fernanda Espinosa avoided taking a stance on the election, but affirmed Ecuador’s commitment to “respect its own Constitution where it speaks about non-interference in the internal affairs of other states”, while also calling for dialogue between the Maduro regime and the opposition.
Uruguay, which joined Bolivia and Cuba in support of Venezuela after Nicolas Maduro’s exclusion from the Summit of the Americas, has remained silent on the matter.
Support from outside the Americas
Other like-minded countries from outside the hemisphere also issued congratulations or notes of support following the election.
Russian President Vladimir Putin sent a congratulatory telegram to Nicolas Maduro and confirmed Russia’s readiness for the “continuation of joint work of Russia and Venezuela on the bilateral and international agenda.”
According to the New York Times, officials from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s office said the Turkish leader called Maduro late on Tuesday to congratulate him on winning the presidential election.
China, via foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang, stopped short of congratulating Maduro on his re-election, but affirmed the PRC’s stance of non-intervention in Venezuelan domestic affairs. At a press conference in Beijing on Monday, she said: “The relevant parties should respect the choice made by the Venezuelan people.”
And although no official statement has been released by either government, Nicolas Maduro announced that he’s received support from Iran and Syria through a series of tweets.
Canada announced further sanctions against an additional 14 Venezuelan individuals in response to Maduro’s consolidation of power.
The delegation of the European Union to Venezuela joined the group of countries that have rejected the May 20th electoral process. On behalf of the EU, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini released a statement saying “these elections could have been a crucial opportunity for all Venezuelan citizens to express, through a democratic, free and transparent process, their political will and thereby determine the future of the country.” The statement also announced that the EU and its member states will consider the adoption of additional political and economic measures and called on the Venezuelan government to release all political prisoners.
In addition to unified pressure from the EU, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced on his Twitter account that Spain, along with other European partners, will “study the implementation of appropriate measures to alleviate the suffering of Venezuelans.” The French government also expressed its doubts regarding the transparency and fairness of the elections, and its continued “support for a political and peaceful solution to the crisis in accordance with the Venezuelan Constitution.”
On May 23rd, the G7 group—Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the U.S., and the European Union—also united against the electoral process in Venezuela.
The statement issued by the G7 reinforces the group’s commitment to continue “supporting a peaceful, negotiated, democratic solution to the crisis in Venezuela and to support the Venezuelan population through humanitarian assistance.”
Grupo de Lima
The block of countries known as the Grupo de Lima—a group of like-minded Latin American democracies—has become one of the most important voices in the international community against the regime.
Following the announcement of Maduro’s “win,” the group, which consists of Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, and St. Lucia, issued a joint statement refusing to recognize the results of the elections in Venezuela. The group also declared the possibility of downgrading diplomatic relations.
The Mexican government took further action, when, at the G20 foreign minister meeting in Buenos Aires, Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray issued an alert to the Mexican financial and banking sectors regarding the risk they incur if they continue to carry out operations with the Venezuelan government.
Chilean President Sebastián Piñera also tweeted his opposition to the Venezuelan elections, declaring them as unclean and illegitimate. “Like most democratic countries, Chile will not recognize these elections,” wrote Piñera.
On May 21st, through a press statement issued by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the United States condemned the fraudulent election that took place in Venezuela on May 20th, calling the so-called “election” an attack on constitutional order and an affront to Venezuela’s tradition of democracy. Secretary Pompeo also issued a tweet calling the election a sham and demanding that the Venezuelan government free political prisoner Josh Holt.
Vice-President Mike Pence also denounced the “illegitimate result of this fake process as a further blow to the proud democratic tradition of Venezuela.”
Furthermore, following the election, U.S. President Donald Trump announced more sanctions against the regime, signing an Executive Order “to prevent the Maduro regime from selling or collaterizing certain Venezuelan assets, and to prohibit the regime from earning money from the sale of certain entities of the Venezuelan government.”
The U.S. Mission to the United Nations also described the Venezuelan elections as an “insult to democracy.” The Mission tweeted that it will continue to stand with the Venezuelan people who are fighting for a brighter future for their country.
Maduro responded to the U.S. response by expelling the top two U.S. diplomats in the country, Charge d’Affaires Todd Robinson and Consul General Brian Naranjo. Maduro declared both officials as persona non grata with a deadline of 48 hours to leave the country.
Eliot Engel, U.S. Representative for New York’s 16th district, expressed his outrage after Maduro’s decision to expel Robison, framing the move as a desperate decision from a dictator.
U.S. Senator for Florida Marco Rubio—who has been actively involved in the U.S. reaction to the Venezuelan crisis as member of the Foreign Relations Committee—also condemned the elections and urged democracies gathered in Argentina at the G20 summit this week to collectively reject the results. Rubio also applauded the Trump administration’s new sanctions.
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce joined U.S. condemnations against the Maduro regime’s fraudulent elections and demonstrated support for the “administration’s sanctions against this ruthless regime,” which he said are “appropriate and urgently needed to do right by the people of Venezuela.”
Finally, the U.S. Mission to the United Nations also described the Venezuelan elections as an “insult to democracy.” The Mission tweeted that it will continue to stand with the Venezuelan people who are fighting for a brighter future for their country.
Update, May 24th: Following the Maduro regime’s decision to declare the Chargé d’Affaires and Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Embassy in Caracas personae non grata, on May 23rd the U.S. Department of State declared the Chargé d’Affaires of the Venezuelan embassy and the Deputy Consul General of the Venezuelan consulate in Houston personae non grata. They have been directed to leave the United States within 48 hours.
Update, May 26th: The Venezuelan government released U.S. missionary Josh Holt, who returned home Saturday May 26th along with his wife. Holt was arrested in June 2016 on charges of espionage, violence and spreading activities against Venezuela’s constitutional order. He had been held in the Caracas Helicoide prison.