- Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro’s socialist regime has suspended the results of an opposition leader’s primary election victory, weeks after agreeing to a Biden administration-brokered deal to ensure fair and free elections in exchange for oil sanctions relief.
- The State Department has indicated that it could effectively terminate the deal and snap sanctions back into place if the Maduro regime does not follow through on its commitments, though it is presently unclear whether this development meets the threshold to do so.
- One of the key points of the oil sanctions relief deal is “the promotion of a public discourse and a political and social climate favorable to carrying out a peaceful and participatory electoral process,” a State Department official told reporters on a background call following the announcement of the deal earlier in October.
The Venezuelan socialist regime suspended an opposition leader’s victory weeks after striking an oil sanctions relief deal brokered by the Biden administration, which seeks democratic reforms in the country.
Venezuela’s top court suspended the results of opposition leader María Corina Machado’s victory in last week’s primary election, citing the need to do so while information is collected for an investigation into the primary organizers’ alleged identity theft, money laundering and conspiracy, Axios reported. The suspension follows a Biden administration-brokered deal between the Venezuelan opposition and the regime of Venezuela’s socialist dictator Nicolas Maduro, in which the U.S. agreed on Oct. 18 to provide oil sanctions relief in exchange for the Maduro regime’s promise that next year’s presidential elections would be free, fair and monitored by international observers, State Department officials told reporters on a background call after the deal was finalized.
Venezuelan Attorney General Tarek William Saab, who is a member of Maduro’s United Socialist Party of Venezuela, has said that his office will spearhead the investigations into the opposition, while Machado and other opposition political figures have stated that the now-suspended results are fair and legitimate, according to Axios. The Maduro regime likely sees Machado’s opposition as a significant threat to its grip on power, and it could be implementing a strategy to provoke the opposition into boycotting the election or simply trying to muscle them out of the way, Phil Gunson, senior analyst for the Andean region at Crisis Group International, told Axios. (RELATED: ‘Stop Negotiating With Terrorists And A Dictator’: GOP Lawmakers Rip Biden’s Move To Ease Venezuela Oil Sanctions)
TRUMP: “Drill baby, drill…We have more oil and gas – liquid gold – than any other country – And we don’t use it…
We have the best stuff there is right under our feet, and yet we go to Venezuela – These people are crazy!” pic.twitter.com/2H9ze1P6HR
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) August 17, 2023
“The agreement that he signed says that there will be a path to authorize all candidates, and the clear understanding and the context of the negotiations has been that the Maduro authorities will act expeditiously to authorize all candidates, and that’s certainly our understanding of the way forward,” a State Department official told reporters on the background call. “The Maduro authorities don’t have a role in the primary process that will take place… so it’s not required for that,” the official continued, adding that “for the general election, obviously, all the candidates need to have a path to authorization and an expeditious one.”
The deal, signed by Maduro’s regime and the opposition and brokered by the Biden administration, stipulates that Maduro would have to agree to a process to eliminate bans against opposition candidates that could run against him, in addition to allowing international election observers to oversee the presidential election, State Department officials told reporters on the background call. In exchange for meeting these conditions, the U.S. would relieve sanctions on the economically crucial Venezuelan oil industry, which once made Venezuela the wealthiest country in South America before the rise of socialism.
Upon taking and consolidating power, Chavez staffed the state-owned oil company with loyalists, according to Forbes, after which the industry’s output fell by 50%, according to another Forbes article. Machado has pledged to privatize the industry if she becomes president, according to S&P Global Commodity Insights.
One of the key conditions of the sanctions relief deal is “the promotion of a public discourse and a political and social climate favorable to carrying out a peaceful and participatory electoral process,” another State Department official told reporters on the background call. It is unclear whether or not this specific development will meet the Biden administration’s thresholds for scrapping the deal and effectively reinstating the oil sanctions, which the administration reserves the right to do if it determines that the Maduro regime is not following through on its end of the agreement.
“The U.S. government will take action if Maduro and his representatives do not meet their commitments under the electoral roadmap,” a State Department official told S&P Global Commodity Insights.
Former President Donald Trump imposed stringent sanctions on Venezuela’s state-owned oil corporation in 2019 to pressure Maduro into stepping down in the wake of the reportedly fraudulent presidential election the year prior. The Trump administration recognized Juan Guaido, who has since left Venezuela, as the rightful winner of that election, and Saab issued a warrant for his arrest earlier in October on the grounds that Guaido committed treason, according to EFE News.
Maduro was a staunch loyalist of the late Hugo Chavez, and, like Chavez, Maduro’s regime has been known to violently weaponize the country’s legal system against political dissent and opposition leaders, according to Amnesty International.
The White House referred the Daily Caller News Foundation to the State Department, which told the DCNF that the topic is likely to be discussed at a press briefing later on Tuesday.
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