In yet another undemocratic move, the Venezuelan government has barred opposition candidate Maria Corina Machado from holding public office for 15 years. Machado, a 55-year-old engineer and former lawmaker, is leading in the polls for the primary to select a unity candidate to face President Nicolas Maduro in a 2024 election.
The United States supports the Venezuelan people’s constitutional right to elect their leaders through free and fair elections. “The decision to disqualify Maria Corina Machado from participating in the electoral process deprives the Venezuelan people of basic political rights,” declared State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller in a statement. “Venezuelans deserve the right to select a candidate to participate in presidential elections in 2024 without interference.”
The Organization of American States also condemned Machado’s disqualification, saying, “The regime resorts to disqualifications and proscriptions to cling to power and liquidate any likeness to democracy while it deepens the political, social, humanitarian and economic crisis the country is living.”
Venezuela has the world’s largest proven oil reserve, but food and medicine remain scarce and expensive. As many as seven million Venezuelans — nearly a quarter of the population — have fled the country. While the economy has started to grow again, the annual inflation rate remains at over 400 percent, according to the central bank.
The United States remains deeply concerned by the ongoing efforts to remake the composition of the National Electoral Council of Venezuela. A strong and independent Council is indispensable for free, fair, and competitive elections. Ensuring all Venezuelan voices are represented in the National Electoral Council adds to its credibility and bolsters voter confidence.
“We stand in solidarity with all Venezuelans in their efforts to achieve free and fair elections in 2024, the restoration of democratic institutions, and an end to the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela,” said spokesperson Miller. “We will continue to work with our international partners to address the urgent needs of Venezuelans inside and outside their country. The United States will also hold accountable those who seek to thwart the will of the Venezuelan people.”