Electoral experts and the media suspect the failure of the referendum in Venezuela, where more than 95% of participants agreed with the annexation of Guyana’s oil-rich Essequibo region.
On the night of the vote count, Election Commissioner Elvis Amoroso declared “an overwhelming victory for ‘yes’ with a turnout exceeding 10.5 million votes.” Five questions were put to the referendum – experts suggest that Amoroso was talking about the total number of votes, and the actual turnout was 2.1 million voters. This is a little more than 10%, which means the referendum did not take place.
This version has several confirmations. Venezuelan and world media reported “empty polling stations” on voting day. The Guardian writes that the election commission published and then deleted a table with the distribution of votes on issues – exactly two million for each. Guyana is also talking about a turnout of about 10%, based on intelligence data, which is also quoted by The Guardian.
In addition, the election commission has not yet published the voting results. There are no messages about the results of the referendum on the commission’s social networks. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro called the results a victory, praising the “very important level of participation.” “This is a complete success for our country, for our democracy,” Maduro said.
The referendum, which the Venezuelan authorities called consultative, was held contrary to the decision of the International Court of Justice, which ordered Venezuela to refrain from any actions to change the situation in the territorial dispute with Guyana. The situation worsened in 2015 when oil and gas fields were discovered in Essequibo.
Essequibo occupies almost three-quarters of Guyana and is approximately the size of Tunisia. Venezuela has laid claim to the region since 1811, when it became independent from Spain, and Essequibo went to Britain.