The Lima Group–comprised of 12 American countries from the Americas–released a statement today calling for an independent audit of Sunday’s gubernatorial elections amid widespread allegations that the Maduro regime’s prolonged voter suppression and rigging tactics resulted in the PSUV’s monumental win.

The statement was released by the Peruvian government, and reads:

In light of the diverse obstacles, acts of intimidation, manipulation and irregularities that characterized the election that took place in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela on October 15 of 2017, and that call into question the results of the election, the governments of Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay and Peru consider it an urgent matter that an independent audit of the entire electoral process take place, with accompaniment by specialized and recognized international observers, with the goal of clarifying the controversy generated by the results of the election, and discover the true wishes of the Venezuelan people.

The Lima Group also revealed that it would meet in Toronto, Canada on October 26 to discuss the ongoing crisis in Venezuela, including last Sunday’s election.

The Lima Group formed in early August, when the signatories agreed during a meeting in Lima, Peru to support the opposition-controlled National Assembly in its struggle to restore democratic order in Venezuela following the installation of Maduro’s Constituent Assembly.

Canada Takes Hard Stance on Election Fraud Allegations

The government of Canada issued a statement today regarding Sunday’s gubernatorial election in which it “calls into question the legitimacy of Venezuela’s electoral process”. The statement points to allegations that the regime-controlled Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE) has institutionalized fraud in electoral proceedings by taking active measures to benefit the ruling PSUV party at the detriment of the opposition.

Below, the Canadian government’s statement on the election:

October 17, 2017 – Ottawa, Ontario – Global Affairs Canada

The Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today issued the following statement regarding the October 15, 2017 regional elections in Venezuela:

“Canada is very concerned by the actions of the Venezuelan regime to hinder free and fair elections, especially via its unconstitutional control of the National Electoral Council (CNE).

“Sunday’s elections were characterized by many irregularities that raise significant and credible concerns regarding the validity of the results.

“The irregularities demonstrate that the CNE does not act as an independent institution for elections, but rather entirely according to the wishes of the government.

“Venezuelans have a constitutional right to choose their leaders through free, fair and transparent elections. We congratulate the Venezuelan people who were able to vote and exercise their democratic rights despite the many obstacles they encountered.

“Canada will continue to stand for the Venezuelan people and for the defence and restoration of democracy in Venezuela.”

Canada has been one of the most outspoken countries at the Organization of American States (OAS) against Maduro’s drive towards authoritarianism in recent months.

Maduro reacted to today’s statement from the Canadian government by saying that it was an “insult to 11 million Venezuelans” who voted in Sunday’s election. Foreign Affairs Minister Jorge Arreaza also announced that the Venezuelan ambassador to Canada, General Wilmer Barrientos, had been called back to Caracas to meet with Maduro about crafting a response to Canada’s comments.

Hinting at what the regime’s response to the comments from the Canadian government might me, Maduro said:

The government of Canada has gone out and said that it doesn’t recognize the election results from Sunday (…) I don’t care about Canada! What an insolent and student government in Canada! (…) If Canada doesn’t care about Venezuela, they should get out of here!

Guevara: Fraud Isn’t Visible on Paper

National Assembly vice president and leading opposition paper Freddy Guevara explained today that the fraud that the opposition claims the Maduro regime committed in Sunday’s election is not visible on paper, meaning that an audit of the ballots cast will not reveal it. Through his Twitter account, Guevara said that the fraud had been committed before the first vote was cast:

The problem is the electoral system (…) the fraud comes before [the vote] in a process that is complicated and requires international auditing. Elections have never been clean, but could be won: for example, the 2015 National Assembly election.

Saying that Venezuela was facing “a new scenario and a new reality”, Guevara argued that Sunday’s election was “very different” from the 2015 National Assembly vote given the nature and scope of the uneven playing field created by the CNE.

For Guevara, evidence of the faults in the country’s electoral system are visible in the number of null votes registered on Sunday, as well as the number of voters who were moved to new voting centres just days away from the election. Guevara said:

More than 90,000 null votes should have gone to opposition candidates but were not added given the fact that [the CNE did not allow candidate substitutions on the ballots]. More than 700,000 electors were moved [to new voting centres] 48 hours before [the election].

Guevara revealed that in all, an estimated 350,000 people were unable to vote on Sunday because of the various administrative and physical obstacles mounted by the regime to prevent opposition voters from casting their ballots.

Opposition Governors Will Not Attend Swearing In Ceremony at Constituent Assembly

The Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD) announced today that its five governors-elect will not swear-in to their positions at Maduro’s National Constituent Assembly.

For the opposition, the matter is clear: Venezuelan law dictates that governors must be sworn in at their respective state legislatures, not the Constituent Assembly, which was elected in a vote that is universally recognized as having been fraudulent even by the company that provided the voting machines for the proceedings.

Maduro announced last week that Sunday’s winners would have to take an oath before the Constituent Assembly.There is no precedent in Venezuelan law for such a requirement.

Questions/Comments? E-mail me: invenezuelablog@gmail.com

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