Mexico City, Mexico, July 4, 2023 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro accused the United States (US) and the European Union (EU) of seeking to “sow the deadly poison of fascism” in the country after senior officials spoke out against the political disenfranchisement of far-right opposition leader María Corina Machado.
“They want to sow the deadly poison of fascism, of hatred, of confrontation among everyone, through social media, paying millions to sow hatred, to try to put their claws on our country and hand it over to the US empire and to the old European racists and colonialists,” denounced Maduro Monday during his weekly television program.
The Venezuelan president’s comments came on the heels of a Monday statement from the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell who rejected the disqualification of Machado.
In its statement, the EU expressed its “deep concern” over the decision to bar Machado from holding political office, alleging that it would “undermine democracy and the rule of law and will only deepen the longstanding political and social crisis in Venezuela.”
“The robust participatory and protagonist democracy of Venezuela neither requires nor accepts the tutelage of other nations, much less from indirect democratic systems and with severe restrictions on participation,” read the Venezuelan government statement. It went on to point the finger at the US’ political system for being plagued by “economic interests and institutionalized racism.”
Machado—who gained international prominence after being hosted by then US President George W. Bush in the Oval Office in 2005—is seeking to represent the opposition in the 2024 presidential race. Venezuela’s hardline opposition has sought to abandon its abstentionist strategy and is instead independently organizing a primary contest to select a unified candidate, marking a shift in strategy after years of pursuing regime change in Venezuela via unconstitutional means.
Venezuela’s Comptroller General suspended Machado’s political rights in 2015 after the far-right leader neglected to disclose the full extent of her earnings during her term as a congresswoman. Machado was elected as a lawmaker for the 2011-2016 legislative session but lost her seat after she illegally accepted the position of a Panamanian diplomatic representative in order to address the Organization of American States, an act prohibited by the Venezuelan Constitution.
The far-right opposition figure was likewise a supporter of the so-called “interim government” that sought to usurp the presidency as part of a US-led regime change effort to oust the Maduro government. However, she never officially formed part of the Juan Guaidó-led “interim government”.
Congressman José Brito, a representative of an opposition sector that broke with the Guaidó camp in 2019, requested an update on Machado’s political status from the Office of the Comptroller General. Through a statement shared by Brito, Venezuelan authorities confirmed the political disenfranchisement of Machado on Friday.
Machado’s ban has become a rallying cry for far-right politicians in the region, with figures such as Bolivia’s Luis Fernando Camacho, Brazil’s Sergio Moro, and US Senator Rick Scott expressing their sympathies with the far-right Venezuelan politician.
Machado, who has previously called for further sanctions on Venezuela and endorsed a foreign military intervention, is leading opinion polls in the opposition’s primary race. Henrique Capriles and Freddy Superlano, two rivals in said race, are also barred from holding office. The so-called “National Primary Commission” has stated that it will not proscribe disenfranchised politicians from running in the primary.
Machado, who classified her struggle as a “spiritual fight between good and evil” in a press conference, has vowed to press on with her candidacy despite her disqualification. It is not clear how Venezuela’s authorities would respond should she win the primary and become the opposition’s candidate. Venezuela’s electoral authority, the National Electoral Council (CNE), is in the midst of a renewal of its board after several members resigned in June. Machado’s inclusion on the ballot in 2024 would have to come as a result of a political negotiation that would see her political rights restored.
Edited by Ricardo Vaz in Caracas.