The U.S. has demanded that the Venezuelan government enable the participation of opposition leader Maria Corina Machado, who was recently elected as a presidential candidate in primary elections. Machado, like other dissenting leaders in the country, is disqualified from holding public office, in her case for 15 years, due to alleged connections with opposition politician Juan Guaido’s offenses and support for international sanctions against Venezuela.
What many sectors have deemed an “ultimatum” to Nicolas Maduro expires on November 30, by which time Machado and other opposition figures convicted of alleged political crimes must be electorally enabled. Additionally, the U.S. has also called for the release of “political prisoners”; otherwise, it will reimpose temporarily suspended sanctions.
The Venezuelan state annulled the results of the opposition’s primary elections, causing a significant uproar as it violates the agreements of Barbados between the government and opposition, which are supposed to allow for democratic and transparent presidential elections in the second half of 2024.
Pressure on Nicolás Maduro
This is another political disagreement in Venezuela where the U.S. is trying to exert pressure on Nicolas Maduro’s government to maintain the electoral schedule and ensure the transparency of the process.
“Before the end of November, we have to see a process for the rehabilitation of all candidates, including Maria Corina Machado. Venezuelans should be the ones to decide who their leaders will be,” said President Biden’s chief advisor for Latin America, Juan Gonzalez, to the NTN24 news channel.
Gonzalez told the same outlet that the U.S. also wants to see the release of Americans “unjustly detained” in Venezuela, as well as the release of other “political prisoners.”
Threat to reimpose sanctions
Similarly, the political advisor announced that if this requirement is not met, the U.S. would reimpose sanctions on Venezuelan oil, gas, and gold exports, following the Barbados agreement signed on October 17.
“We have to see results to demonstrate that this first step is successful. We have taken a pretty big step to send a signal of our commitment, but after November 30, if those expectations are not fulfilled, we will have to take steps to dismantle that relief of sanctions we have given,” concluded Juan Gonzalez.
New maneuver by the Venezuelan government
The challenge was already significant for the Venezuelan state, as it has many opposition politicians disqualified for alleged political crimes. However, the challenge is even greater now that the Supreme Court of Justice of Venezuela announced the suspension “in all respects” of all phases of the opposition primaries.
The legal process began in response to a motion filed by opposition deputy Jose Brito, who asked for a review of whether there were “irregularities” in the primary elections.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro stated this week that there will be presidential elections in 2024 “with sanctions or without sanctions,” which represents a “sovereign decision” of his country that, he said, will not accept “blackmail.”
“Next year, there will be a presidential election; it is in the Constitution, as always, it will be fulfilled impeccably, with sanctions or without sanctions, we will have elections,” said the Venezuelan president in a televised meeting with economic sectors broadcast by the state-owned Venezolana de Televisión.