Mr. Speaker, on April 14, I had the privilege, as an accredited international juror, of witnessing the presidential elections of Venezuela.
I witnessed problems at the polls, military presence with guns and some electronic machines not working properly. Others witnessed violence, the burning of ballots and individuals with several identity cards voting early and often.
I also saw the people of Venezuela streaming to the polls to exercise their democratic rights. They were full of hope, believing that this election signalled a new era for Venezuela.
Even after the polls had closed and the preliminary results were announced, there was still the belief that democracy would prevail. The opposition called for a recount, and the president elect said in his victory speech that he would not object. When asked, one of the election commission's members indicated the commission would not undertake a recount.
Unfortunately, by Monday, the day after the election, the president elect had changed his mind. The elections commission declared him the winner, and his inauguration took place last Friday.
Opposition party members across Venezuela rallied to protest the cancelling of the recount, and the police moved in, leaving 7 dead, 60 injured and 170 arrested.
I am pleased to learn that the national elections commission has agreed to an audit of 46% of the ballot boxes that were not subject to the recount on election day. There has been retaliation against people who voted for Mr. Capriles. I have received reports of mass layoffs of civil servants who supported Capriles. People have been indiscriminately arrested for having supported Capriles.
Mr. Speaker, I am asking you to grant an emergency debate so we in this House can discuss and debate what measures should be taken to help the people of Venezuela ensure that their democratic rights are protected.