Venezuela's National Assembly elections were held on December 6, with Maduro's Electoral Commission announcing that Maduro's party had won a crushing 67.6 percent of the vote. The main Opposition parties boycotted the election, and the West, such as the United States and European Union (EU) countries, did not allow the election itself. Venezuela has been able to have three National Parliaments. Under this condition, Iran, which is deepening ties with Venezuela, has dispatched 10 oil tanker fleets to Venezuela. The U.S. Navy destroyers have been dispatched to the Caribbean in the response to the Trump administration's economic sanctions on Venezuela, and tensions in the Caribbean have been heightened.


 The Parliamentary election was contested with 14,400 candidates in 277 seats. Among the candidates were President Maduro's son and wife. Presidential factions such as the United Workers' Party (PSVS) received 67.6 percent of the vote in the election announcement. However, turnout was sluggish because the main opposition parties boycotted it. The election was also announced at 31%, a significant drop compared to 71% in the last election in 2015, when the opposition won a major election.


 The Opposition claims that only about 18 percent voted, less than the election announcement. Western media reported that there were no long lines at the polling stations seen last time.


 As for this election, the EU and the Organization of American States (OAS) refused to send election observers. Meanwhile, Russia and Iran sent observers to assert the legitimacy of the elections.


 President Maduro declared victory. The only thing that the Opposition party holds is the "power system". However, this has become a strange form with virtually three National Assembly members in Venezuela.


 The Diet recognized by Western countries is the current Diet session in the 2015 elections won by the Opposition. This election is due to end on January 5 next year, and if held democratically, a new power should have been born, but Western countries do not recognize the election results, so a second Diet is born here in Venezuela.


 In fact, in 2017, President Maduro established another National Assembly, the Constitution National Assembly, to incapacitate a large number of Opposition parties. The "victory" of Maduro's Presidential faction in this Parliamentary election has made the existence of a Constitutional Assembly no longer meaningful, but there is no sign that this "Third National Assembly" will be closed.


 In response to the results of this election, President Maduro is likely to lean further toward authoritarian political methods. Experts also say that international confidence has given momentum to the issuance of new government bonds as a trump card for rebuilding the economy.


 The United States and other Western countries have approved the leader of the National Assembly, Guayd, as Interim President because of Constitutional provisions, claiming Maduro's election is invalid because of fraud in the 2018 Presidential election. However, Guayd's term as a member of Parliament is until 5 January, jeopardizing the grounds for Western countries to become Interim President.


 On the other hand, Guayd's popularity is not so high in Venezuela, and the reality is that the Opposition lacks the power to overthrow authoritarian President Maduro.


 As politics plays mud, people's lives are only in trouble.


 Inflation in Venezuela is above 5,400 percent annually. This figure alone confirms that the economy is collapsing. According to a survey by The Catholic Andres Bello National University in Chile, 96 percent of Venezuelan households belong to the poor, and few have basic groceries such as meat, fish, vegetables and fruits. Water shortages are also severe, and areas where drinking water is not supplied are located in urban areas. People wash their bodies in puddles made of road sinkholes are seen on a daily basis. Blackouts are also a common sight.


 Although crude oil reserves are the world's largest, mining and essential oil facilities are not operating sufficiently, and gasoline shortages are falling into shortages. Cars queuing at gas stations are everywhere, but it's not uncommon for them to take two weeks to refuel.


 In rural areas, housing and construction are not satisfactory, and houses built with twigs and mud before Christopher Columbus discovered the Americas are commonplace.


 The medical field is also in danger of collapse. In addition to the growing shortage of medicines, more than a third of the 66,000 doctors there have defected abroad.


 Naturally, security deteriorated, and more than 4 million Venezuelans fled abroad as refugees and migrants to escape violence and poverty.


 Under such conditions, Iran, which is deepening ties with Venezuela, dispatched a large tanker fleet of 10 ships to Venezuela. Bloomberg News and others reported. It is expected to support the transportation of oil to Venezuela, which is running out of gasoline and other petroleum products, and to transport Venezuelan oil to China and other countries.


 Iran has been transporting oil to Venezuela since this summer. In August, the U.S. Navy, which was cracking down on economic sanctions, seized four Iranian oil tankers in the Caribbean. This tanker convoy is almost twice the size.


 Iranian tankers heading to Venezuela are switching off their transmitters to hide their destinations and other information. The convoy may be accompanied by a guard ship, or armed surprise troops may be on board. For this reason, it is well thought that it will be an accidental battle with the U.S. Navy, which patrols the Caribbean.

 On a series of Iranian oil shipments, Craig Farrar, Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Southern Force, which is in charge of Latin America and the West Indies, said,“We are seeing Iran's increased influence in Venezuela. That includes the Godos army, a special unit of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.”Commander Farrar added, “These ships are not just oil carriers. It's also arms transport.”


 Elliot Abrames, the Trump administration's special representative for Iran and Venezuela, also argued at a webinar hosted by George Mason University on December 3, "It is absolutely unacceptable for Iranian missiles to be deployed in Venezuela."


 Iran's large tanker convoy was also reported by the Stars & Stripes for the U.S. military persons. However, it is not clear when this convoy will arrive in the Caribbean.


 Iran is likely to operate tankers with a detailed analysis of the U.S. trends. President Trump's term is another month and a half as of now. Iran should also want to avoid anything that would increase tensions here, and some say it will not approach Venezuela until January 20, when Biden, a Democrat who won the U.S. presidential election, takes office.


Taro Yanaka / Journalist

His coverage is a wide range of coverage from town stories to international affairs, specializes in economics, diplomacy, North America, Latin America, South Pacific, Organized Crime, and Terrorism.  His hobby is driving around the world.