Venezuela: US-backed Machado Refuses to Appeal Ban, Gets Florida Endorsement

Republicans have introduced bills in Congress demanding that Biden “recognize” the far-right politician as a presidential candidate.
rick scott maria corina machado
Florida Senator Rick Scott has pushed support for María Corina Machado. (US Senate)

Caracas, December 9, 2023 ( – Venezuelan opposition figure María Corina Machado has ruled out challenging her political disqualification via the country’s Supreme Court.

In a press conference on Wednesday, the far-right leader called her ban “non-existent” and argued there was “nothing to appeal.”

“Our strategy is citizen organization, towards free and competitive elections,” she said. “The procedure proposed by the regime restricts the electoral route,” Machado added, in reference to an agreement between Venezuelan government and opposition dialogue delegations to set up a review process via the Supreme Court.

On November 30, the participants of the recent Barbados Agreement announced that opposition politicians currently barred from holding political office could file appeals before the maximum judicial instance until December 15.

However, the procedure included certain restrictions for the appellants, including a commitment to “defend the homeland” and its “territorial integrity.” Machado recently drew criticism by calling for the suspension of a December 3 referendum concerning Venezuela’s sovereignty dispute with Guyana over the Essequibo Strip and seeing her comments echoed by Guyanese leaders.

The far-right figure was originally banned from holding elected office in 2015 due to issues with her tax filings. Venezuela’s Comptroller’s Office ratified her ongoing 15-year prohibition earlier this year after José Brito, an opposition lawmaker from a different bloc, requested an update. 

US officials had imposed a November 30 “deadline” for the lifting of political disqualifications, threatening to remove the US Treasury licenses that eased select sanctions in October. 

Washington has not commented on the Supreme Court process, but the State Department announced a “review” of the limited sanctions relief over an alleged lack of process from Venezuelan authorities in the release of US citizens detained in Venezuela.

For her part, Machado has repeatedly dismissed her public office ban and pledged to continue “until the end.” 

“I am more than enabled by the millions who voted on October 22,” the hardline politician added in her Wednesday presser, referring to the opposition primaries that delivered her a landslide win. However, the turnout figures have come into question, with the Supreme Court’s Electoral Branch ordering a suspension of the process.

Machado has likewise reiterated that she will not step aside and endorse a different candidate should she remain barred from running. Opposition analysts have argued that is a mistake for all anti-government forces to throw all their weight behind Machado’s struggle and risk fostering abstention in next year’s presidential vote.

While Machado’s electoral prospects in Venezuela remain unclear, she has counted on vocal support from hawkish US politicians.

On Friday, Florida Senator Rick Scott took part in a rally with the Independent Venezuelan-American Citizens (IVAC) group to back the opposition primaries’ winner. 

“This is a significant moment in the Venezuelan people’s fight for freedom and true representative government,” the Republican senator told those present. “Now is the time for American strength.”

Earlier this week, Scott and fellow Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio introduced a resolution in the US Senate calling on the Biden administration to “recognize” Machado as Venezuela’s “chosen presidential opposition candidate.”

The text went on to argue for Washington not to recognize the results of the 2024 elections should the far-right candidate not feature on the ballot, and demanded that the White House reimpose the recently lifted sanctions.

Machado thanked Scott for his legislative effort, calling him a “firm and loyal ally of the Venezuelan cause.”

Republicans María Elvira Salazar (FL-27) and Reps. Mario Díaz-Balart (FL-26) and Carlos Giménez (FL-28) introduced a similar resolution in the House of Representatives.

Machado’s Vente Venezuela took a further blow in recent days after the Attorney General’s Office issued arrest warrants for four high-ranking party operators. Roberto Abdul, Henry Alviarez, Claudia Macero and Pedro Urruchurtu were charged with treason, money laundering and other charges related to an alleged plan to “sabotage” the December 3 referendum.

Abdul’s detention was confirmed on Wednesday, while the status of the remaining three figures is presently unknown.