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Maduro Breaks Agreements and Fights with Left Allies

El presidente de Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro. Foto: EFE | Confidencial

Gerardo Arreola

5 de abril 2024


 In his attempt to be re-elected by excluding part of the opposition, Nicolas Maduro entered into a controversy that shows discrepancies with the left in Latin America regarding Venezuela’s authoritarian course.

The discussion exposes that Maduro is moving towards a regime like Daniel Ortega’s in Nicaragua, something that part of that left is not willing to support.

In the latest debate, the Colombian Foreign Ministry expressed “concern” over the virtual veto of the candidate from the opposition Democratic Unity Platform (PUD), Corina Yoris.  Likewise, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula considered this exclusion “serious.” “I don’t want anything better or worse for Venezuela, I want the elections to be conducted like in Brazil, with the participation of everyone,” he said.

Without naming names, Maduro called those who “are not capable of condemning the coups, the attempts against the revolution” “cowardly leftists”, suggesting that the opposition represented by the PUD was involved in plans to assasinate the president himself.

“There is no cowardly left,” replied Colombian President Gustavo Petro. “There is the possibility of changing the world through deepening democracy.”

Weeks earlier, Chilean President Gabriel Boric had come out to defend the democratic will of the Communist Party of Chile (PCCh), a partner of the ruling coalition that supports Maduro.

Boric clarified, however, that he has “denounced in international forums the human rights violations of a Venezuelan regime that undoubtedly has taken an authoritarian turn.”

The Chilean Communist Party supports Maduro, but the Communist Party of Venezuela broke with the regime, moved to the opposition, and ended up being “intervened” judicially, which in practice nullified its legal existence.

The controversy extends the one opened months ago by former Uruguayan President Jose Pepe Mujica. In his most recent statement on the matter, the former Tupamaro leader said that “Venezuela has an authoritarian government that goes too far.”

This was his reaction to the detention of activist Rocío San Miguel, accused of a conspiracy to assassinate Maduro, and the expulsion of personnel from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The electoral episode brought down the Barbados Accords, signed in Bridgetown on October 17, 2023, which were commitments to hold general elections and alleviate the economic pressure from the United States against Venezuela.

Norway facilitated the pact, with Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, the Netherlands, and Russia as accompaniers.

Maduro recognized the PUD Unity Platform as an interlocutor there. Along with guarantees for the elections, including international observation. The first accord ordered to promote “the authorization of all presidential candidates and political parties, as long as they comply with the requirements established by Venezuelan law.”

The paragraph had a name and surname. In September 2021, opposition figure María Corina Machado was disqualified from exercising her political rights, under the charge of having collaborated in acts detrimental to the national heritage, during the self-proclaimed government of Juan Guaidó (2019–2022).

After the Barbados Accords, Machado was elected as the presidential candidate of the PUD. Then, with Norway’s facilitation, she promoted a recourse that was dismissed, and her disqualification became firm.

So far, the complete text of both judicial rulings is unknown because the Administrative Court has only disseminated summarized public versions. The defense could never build a strong argument.

With the legal route closed, Machado designated a substitute, historian Corina Yoris, to have the PUD candidacy registered within the stipulated deadline, which expired on March 25.

The system crashed…

What followed was Caribbean surrealism. Registration through a digital platform allowed Maduro from the United Socialist Party of Venezuela and 12 other candidates from different formations to register. The system worked… except for the candidate from the PUD.

At the last minute, the opposition coalition was able to register one of its leaders, Edmundo Gonzalez Urrutia, whose fate as a candidate is still to be seen, as it requires confirmation from the National Electoral Council, controlled by Maduro’s supporters.

By making it seem six months ago that he would respect a fair electoral competition pact, Maduro engaged in multiple deception: to the PUD, to the facilitator, to the accompaniers, to Venezuelan society, and to the rest of the international community.

During this semester, the United States partially reduced economic coercion against Venezuela, based on the general understanding and particularly the second Barbados agreement. With the new course, they will feel free to resume retaliation.

*Article originally published on Medium.

This article was published in Spanish in Confidencial and translated by Havana Times. To get the most relevant news from our English coverage delivered straight to your inbox, subscribe to The Dispatch.


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Gerardo Arreola

Gerardo Arreola

Periodista mexicano. Autor de "Cuba. El futuro a debate". Escribe sobre México, Centroamérica, el Caribe y temas globales.