Venezuela Rejects Foreign Interference in Elections, Denounces US Delegitimization Campaign

Caracas said Washington is leading a “circus” to undermine the July 28 vote and warned neighboring countries not to bow to the pressure.
The Venezuelan opposition registered 12 candidates, although some are expected to eventually withdraw from the race. (Archive)

Caracas, March 28, 2024 ( – Venezuelan Foreign Affairs Minister Yván Gil reacted harshly at Colombia and Brazil’s “gross” and “ignorant” statements regarding the country’s July 28 vote.

Following the successful registration of 13 candidates for this year’s presidential elections, the Colombian Foreign Affairs Ministry issued a communique on Tuesday expressing “concern” for “difficulties faced by majority opposition sectors” in registering their candidate on the electoral online platform between March 23-25.

Bogotá claimed that these issues “could affect the confidence from some sectors of the international community regarding the transparency and competitiveness of the electoral process.”

Similarly, the Brazilian Foreign Ministry released a note protesting the Unitary Platform and María Corina Machado’s political movement Vente Venezuela’s alleged inability to file the candidacy of 80-year-old academic Corina Yoris, despite having no legal impediments. Brasilia claimed the situation was “not compatible” with the Barbados Agreements signed between the Nicolás Maduro government and the US-backed opposition last October.

Yoris is an unknown figure chosen at the last minute as Machado’s substitute after the far-right leader failed to revert her 15-year political ban. The reasons behind her unsuccessful registration are not clear.

In response, Venezuela’s Gil accused both countries of falling victim to the US State Department’s pressure to interfere in the country’s internal affairs.

“Driven by the need to please the US State Department, the Colombian Foreign Ministry makes a false step and commits an act of gross interference in matters that only concern Venezuelans […] even when Foreign Minister Luis Murillo had first-hand accurate information,” Gil wrote on social media.

The Venezuelan minister likewise fired back at Brazil’s communique, stating “it seemed to have been dictated by the US State Department” and showed “profound ignorance” about Venezuela’s political reality. Gil contrasted the tone with Brazilian President Lula da Silva’s “solidarity” in condemning US sanctions.

For his part, in a national broadcast, President Maduro criticized the region’s “cowardly left” for not condemning assassination attempts against him. Colombia’s Gustavo Petro answered via social media that “there is no cowardly left” but “the ability, through deepening democracy, to change the world.”

On Wednesday, Caracas additionally criticized the US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller’s statement regarding the electoral process, recalling that the US-backed Unitary Platform is only “a small sector of the Venezuelan right wing.”

“The communique from the US government finally shows its face as the owner of a circus that tries to ignore and delegitimize the upcoming presidential elections,” reads the text issued by the Venezuelan government on Wednesday.

For its part, Venezuela’s National Electoral Council (CNE) authorities clarified on Thursday that every candidacy “must enjoy the support of registered political organizations or the will of an important group of voters.” It also condemned the US State Department for the “audacity” of trying to determine Venezuela’s electoral processes.

“The CNE cannot assume or take responsibility for the personal inabilities of some individuals who place their interests above national legality, believing themselves to be anointed by an external power,” read the text.

On Monday, the electoral institution completed the registration of 13 candidates representing 37 political parties for the July election, including President Maduro. The other 12 hopefuls come from a range of center and right-wing factions, including the hardline opposition.

However, the US-backed Unitary Platform claimed it was unable to register Corina Yoris ahead of Monday’s deadline, with spokespeople claiming they could not access the CNE website and subsequently demanding an extension. 

The electoral authorities agreed with the petition and admitted the last-minute registration of 74-year-old ex-diplomat Edmundo González Urrutia under the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) ticket. The Unitary Platform will reportedly try to replace him in the coming weeks.

CNE authorities have not explained why Yoris could not reportedly be registered. However, Machado’s organization Vente Venezuela is not a legal political party, thus unable to field a candidate. The Unitary Platform coalition was relying on other organizations to register Machado’s surrogate, among them the Un Nuevo Tiempo party led by Zulia governor Manuel Rosales.

Rosales had no issues registering his own candidacy with his party ticket on Monday night. His registration came as a surprise as he had previously pledged loyalty to Machado, who deemed Rosale’s action a “betrayal.” Political analysts spoke of backroom tensions in the opposition camp surrounding the candidacy process.

For his part, the governor and 2006 presidential candidate said he decided to run after it became clear that Yoris’ candidacy would not be possible, without explaining the alleged hurdles. Rosales added he would be willing to give up his place on the ballot in favor of a unity candidate. 

“There are two options: look for a negotiation, a candidate that will overcome the obstacles, and I will hand over the candidacy. But do not defame, do not make a dirty war, or leave the people of Venezuela with no way out. If they do not put another candidate, I will continue with the flag raised high to be the next President of Venezuela,” said Rosales in a press conference on Wednesday.

Edited by Ricardo Vaz in Caracas.