“It’s not the people who vote that count; it’s the people who count the votes,” is a quote long attributed to Joseph Stalin, to whom Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro once compared himself favourably. “Look at the moustache and all,” he quipped at a book fair in March 2015. More recently, Maduro has been compared to Stalin for much more sinister reasons, with his military-backed government appearing to be on the brink of all out conflict with its own citizens. And Stalin’s purported quote never appeared more apt after the company in charge of the electronic vote for Maduro’s new constituent assembly, for which heavily gerrymandered and opposition-boycotted elections were held on 30 July, said the count had been tampered with, to the tune of at least 1m votes. Luis Almagro, secretary general of the Organization of American States (OAS), tweeted that “the biggest electoral fraud in the history of Latin America, in percentage terms and millions of voters, has been confirmed”. Then the US warned of a menu of progressively harsher sanctions, and said it would not accept a ‘parallel government’ in the form of an irregular and illegal constituent assembly.

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