Juan Guaido, President of Venezuela's National Assembly, gestures as he speaks during a rally against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's government and to commemorate the 61st anniversary of the end of the dictatorship of Marcos Perez Jimenez in Caracas, Venezuela January 23, 2019. REUTERS/CARLOS GARCIA RAWLINS
Juan Guaido, President of Venezuela's National Assembly, gestures as he speaks during a rally against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's government and to commemorate the 61st anniversary of the end of the dictatorship of Marcos Perez Jimenez in Caracas, Venezuela January 23, 2019. REUTERS/CARLOS GARCIA RAWLINS

It is reasonable to have a policy of non-interference in other countries’ internal affairs. This seems to be the crux of Brian van der Vijver’s issues with foreign support of Juan Guaidó’s claim to be the legitimate president of Venezuela ("Maimane Backs US Stooge", February 20).

It is rather disingenuous, however, to go on to claim that “Nicolas Maduro won a free election with 67% of the popular vote”. This view borders on delusional and cannot be backed by any objective viewing of the facts. Every aspect of the election was a farce, with opposition leaders in jail or hounded out of the country. This alone would negate any possible legitimacy of the election.

But in the circus of Venezuela, it wasn’t enough for the government to win a one-horse race, it went far beyond — moving the election date forward by several months at short notice. The official turnout figure of under 50% was double the actual turnout, meaning ballot stuffing is the only reason for Maduro’s “victory”. In a country bordering on famine, food ration cards came with a strict instruction to vote for Maduro.

Venezuela’s neighbours and almost the entire Latin American region bar Cuba, Mexico and Uruguay have long ago regarded Maduro as an illegitimate president for flouting democratic norms since the time the current congress came to power.

I could go on, but any reasonable reader should get the picture — this is not Yankee imperialism, but a government clinging to power by any means. It has delivered a social and economic catastrophe unprecedented in a non-war economy that has long spiralled out of control. That this should happen in a country that a generation ago was the wealthiest and best educated in the region makes it even more tragic.

SA’s official silence about and tacit support for Maduro is much like its support of Robert Mugabe — a betrayal of the principles the ANC fought for historically, and it places SA in the company of some of the most unsavoury governments in the world. We should all be disgusted by it.

Suhail Suleman
Claremont