The Dec. 6 legislative elections in Venezuela were the most transparent and efficient that the Union of South American Nations has ever observed since it began sending monitors to electoral processes in the region in 2011, said the bloc’s secretary-general, Ernesto Samper, at a press conference Monday.
“Today, Venezuela continues to be a strong democracy and that has been proven by the highly efficient, accurate and most transparent the way the elections were carried out,” Samper said.
“Samper to hold press conference in Quito regarding the work of the Electoral Mission in Venezuela.”
He also praised the democratic will expressed by President Nicolas Maduro, who, “as he promised before the elections, immediately recognized the opposition’s victory.”
The opposition gained a majority in the National Assembly after 17 years of a socialist PSUV party majority, which relentlessly worked in favor of the most vulnerable sectors of society, efficiently reducing extreme poverty, expanding social programs, and narrowing the inequality gap.
Venezuela today has one of the most reliable and trustworthy electoral systems in the region, Samper reiterated, although he accepted there were difficulties that will likely be overcome in future electoral processes.
Samper strongly criticized the presence of former presidents Andres Pastrana of Colombia, Laura Chinchilla of Costa Rica and Jorge Quiroga of Bolivia, among others.
“Their unlawful interference could have disrupted the peaceful elections in Venezuela, but fortunately it didn’t,” Samper said, as he explained that in Venezuela the electoral law calls for polling stations to remain open until everybody waiting in line to vote has cast their ballot.
“UNASUR Electoral Mission meets with President Nicolas Maduro before the elections.”
Samper went on to say that it is now the opposition’s turn to demonstrate their commitment to democracy and the people of Venezuela.
“The electoral results in Venezuela mean the way things are done will change. There are two opposing forces in power now and the opposition is in front of the challenge of proving they are also committed to democracy and peace in favor of the people of Venezuela,” he said.
He called on the opposition to end its confrontation with the ruling socialist government of Maduro and the Bolivarian revolution and join forces to overcome the difficulties the Latin American country is facing.
The UNASUR head said the regional bloc, which is supported by the administration of President Maduro, will not be affected by the electoral results in Venezuela.
The UNASUR electoral mission was formed by 40 Latin American experts who observed the Dec. 6 legislative elections in 11 Venezuelan states, including some under a state of exception, which aims to control Colombian paramilitary crossborder crimes.
IN-DEPTH: Elections in Venezuela
UNASUR'S website explains that the objective of electoral missions is to contribute with and offer support to the electoral commissions of the bloc's member countries.
The regional organization's objective is to ensure “the correct development of the electoral processes under six basic principles, including impartiality, objectivity, independence, legality, no interference or intervention, and transparency.”
UNASUR’s first electoral mission was in Paraguay on Oct. 9. 2011. The bloc has since undertaken missions in 16 elections, including in Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, Guyana and Suriname.
The bloc's website further explains that the missions are overseen by electoral experts from the UNASUR member countries, which also finance the missions.
WATCH: Maduro Recognizes the Opposition’s Victory, but Vows to Continue Struggle