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A Venezuelan view: Trump the fraudster

By Dozthor Zurlent

Dozthor Zurlent (left) with Venezuelan human rights lawyer.

U.S. role in the world and its election

In spite of its decline as the superpower of the world, the United States continues to be the major imperial power of the planet. Its economic and military power allows the U.S. to influence and to even directly intervene in crucial scenarios of the world.

It is inevitable then, that most major mass media outlets of the world, as well as the world’s citizens, closely follow electoral processes in the U.S. In fact, after the November 3, 2020 election, street protests against police killings continue and there is no remedy at hand for the gross human rights violations in U.S. cities. Imperial brutality and discrimination against oppressed nationalities, especially African American, Chicano and Latino people have enjoyed impunity for a long, long time.

Uncertain elections?

Election day passed, and people were expecting to obtain the final results of the election during the early hours of November 4. Experts and polling companies were offering their initial numbers and percentages with arrogance and certainty, as if coming back from the future to tell us what is going to happen.

Fact is, Trump, trying to discourage participation in the electoral process, began calling it a fraud even before November 3, and many days after he continues to tweet “I won the election.” What happened? Why the uncertainty and the delays?

U.S. elections are a very sloppy process, with almost as many procedures and regulations as states composing the union. Although it is a national election, there are neither national standards nor a national electoral council to lead and supervise it, like in Venezuela. Every state carries out the election with its own technology, procedures, methods, and verification and security standards.

Does this aid and abet Trump’s electoral fraud claims?

The United States is one of the most technologically advanced countries, nevertheless, the human factor is a fundamental aspect of its electoral processes. Why?

In another country with one of the most advanced electoral systems in the world, Venezuela, the vote for president is universal, direct and secret. There is no “Electoral College” like the U.S. Nobody elects a body, which in turn elects the president. Instead, voters receive a confidential confirmation of their vote, that is used in the after-election audits to verify the electronic results that voting machines produce. The National Electoral Council uses technology to cut down on fraud. They use a mandatory fingerprint reader to activate the voting machine and to allow for a one voter, one vote policy. It is difficult to beat.

In Venezuela, all political parties participate in software and hardware audits of the voting machines; they also audit energy backup systems, data transmission and protocols. Procedures are also implemented to safeguard secrecy while using the voting machine. The National Electoral Council in Venezuela works with all parties, but is independent of them, its own branch of government, like the judicial, legislative or executive branch.

In the United States, elections are indirect, because as Alexander Hamilton argued in his writings (see Federalist papers #68), the Electoral College was “most likely to have the information and discernment” to make a good choice and to avoid the election of anyone “not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications.” Neither Hamilton, nor any of the wealthy members of the U.S. Constitutional Convention of 1787, 49% of who were slave owners, trusted the popular vote.

Today of course, women, African Americans and working people can vote, but because of the lack of a unified national electoral system, men like Trump can still take advantage and disavow the process, distracting attention from his own defeat and faults. Even with evidence lacking.

What Trump claims appeals to some people’s fears. There are potential weaknesses and heavy dependency on human factors throughout the U.S. electoral processes, but there are also cultural traditions that allow for the system to work. In the United States there is a tradition of respect for other people’s mail, and property. Violators are heavily punished.

Trump’s claims of fraud run counter to these traditions, and he has not been able to present any proof. If any tampering with the election arises, like during the Bush “hanging chad” election in 2000, it is likely to be on every news station, and in court.

From my perspective, the African American vote played a fundamental role in Trump’s defeat. It is very important to understand that in the near future, African Americans, Chicanos and other oppressed nationality peoples will be the majority around 2050. It is not my belief that race determines ideology, but in a racist country, it is a significant fact.

African Americans together with antifascist and other progressive organizations are leading the struggle currently taking place in the United States against ruthless repression, systemic racism and the extrajudicial executions of defenseless civilians. All in the midst of a hyper-criminalization of the right to protest, secret military maneuvers in the underground of U.S. big cities, militarization of the police forces, bolstered state surveillance of activists, support for emboldened neo-Nazis and other right-wing paramilitary forces.

What is the role of the Chicano and Latino vote in Biden’s victory?

It is complicated. Latin Americans in the United States lack a common project of their own. They are a quilt of different nationalities, cultures, traditions, languages and accents, and also political beliefs. The U.S. government treats people very differently, so colonized Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens, while Cubans had privileged immigration status until 2017. However, most immigrants go through a lengthy process, sometimes ten years, to obtain their citizenship and to be able to vote.

Wealthy and middle-class South Americans find it easy to obtain a legal status or are quickly made U.S. citizens. They either ignore or reject the Latin American project of unity proposed by Simon Bolivar, and restarted by Chavez, Castro and others at the beginning of this century. For most of them, there is no alternative for the region but to be a dependent on U.S. imperialism. As long as they are making money, they are fine, even if it means supporting Latin American dictators like Pinochet, Somoza, Stroessner and Videla, among others. They support and even call for U.S. invasions and support sanctions, blockades and other measures to cause hardship on people and to try to subdue countries like Cuba and Venezuela.

Mexicans are by far the biggest nationality in the United States, contributing to the growing Chicano nationality. They are right at the current border, and they have been crossing it for centuries. They were inside the territory the United States stole from Mexico, and pretty much in every big city across the U.S. nowadays. About 5 million lack legal permission to reside in the United States. Mexicans and people from Central America are the ones suffering most of the discrimination and hardship. They are also the ones receiving most of Trump’s backlash and dirty talk. It is their kids who have been put in cages; it is they who Trump accuses of being criminals, drug traffickers, people with low IQ, and other pejoratives. Most people reject Trump’s statements.

It caught Chicano, Mexican and Central Americans’ attention that, when protests against the assassination of George Floyd erupted, it was the neo-Nazi groups who, with police support, came out to defend the system and to harass and insult them. There is no doubt that Trump’s tongue and the neo-Nazis’ harassment played a role in increasing Mexican and Latino participation in the electoral process and in their support for Biden.

Why then Trump’s fraud claims? Is he serious about it?

Since the beginning of his term in office, Trump has rejected the idea of making his tax return records available for public scrutiny. It casts a shadow over his financial status. It is true; Trump and his son have been very active in business with Arab sheiks, which may have had a highly positive impact on his finances. He is also trying to divert corporate investments from China to new places where his political influence may get him a share of the profits.

But if Trump had hope of using the presidency of the United States as a platform to reignite his finances, the COVID-19 crisis threw everything out the window. Because his businesses are related mostly to hotels and tourism, the pandemic affected his wealth really hard. That may explain why Trump continues jokes about the pandemic and his calling it a “cold”? Trump never took real measures to control the pandemic and it backfired against him, and harmed the American people.

Just before the election, Trump contracted the virus and was even quarantined in a hospital, only to soon emerge, appearing healthy. Even that he treated like a joke!

So, with Trump’s fraud claims, lawsuits and his “I won the election” tweets still coming out, three weeks after the election, it may be his financial status driving it more than any other thing?

What to expect from Biden?

Biden has been already recognized by the majority of the countries of the world as the next U.S. president. U.S. elites trust him with using his political and diplomatic skills to placate street protests in exchange for morsels. They know that throughout his political career, he has supported them in their imperialist wars and invasions of other countries.

Biden is aging, so we have to consider the possibility that Kamala Harris may become the first woman, an African-Asian American woman, to become president of the United States. What does her record say?

The truth is…Biden won. A difficult election, with no Cambridge Analytica that could decipher the election for Trump this time around. People in the United States gave a strong showing of participation, dignity and bravery. They are still on the streets across the United States, demanding change. Will Kamala and Joe understand and appreciate this?

Dozthor Zurlent is a Venezuelan activist who previously lived in Chicago, Illinois and El Salvador. In 2000, he moved back to Venezuela after the massive victory of President Hugo Chavez.

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