Venezuela’s socialist regime claims 8 million voters turned out on Sunday to OK its plan to rewrite the constitution and form a dictatorship. But the company that counts Venezuela’s votes cried fraud on Tuesday.
In a symbolic vote last month, 7.6 million Venezuelans rejected President Nicolás Maduro‘s illegal effort to draft a new, more authoritarian constitution. So Maduro was desperate to top that vote tally when he held his own referendum last Sunday to approve the constitutional rewrite. He said 8.1 million voters turned out - but independent estimates showed fewer than half that cast votes.
Now Smartmatic - the Venezuelan firm that supplies the country’s voting technology - says the Maduro regime manipulated the vote count. Speaking from London after bolting Venezuela, Smartmatic CEO Antonio Mugica said the balloting software was "tampered with" and that at least a million votes were fabricated.
Jose Hernandez, a former Venezuelan diplomat and a South Florida spokesman for Venezuela’s political opposition, said the international community now has no choice but to apply more pressure on Maduro to restore democracy in Venezuela, where the socialists are widely blamed for the worst economic catastrophe in the country's modern history.
“They now have a tangible reason to do more," Hernandez told WLRN. "Nicolás Maduro doesn’t have any possibility to support his dictatorship. The Venezuelan people are suffering. We need to stop this government and change.”
Hernandez said the Smartmatic announcement gives Venezuela’s opposition new momentum. But with the Venezuelan military still backing the regime, Maduro's opponents face dwindling options even as anti-government street protests continue.