The US supports “democratic process” in Venezuela despite Machado’s disqualification

WASHINGTON_ The United States supports the “democratic process” in Venezuela despite the transgressions of the Venezuelan regime, which is taking steps “in the wrong direction,” said this Thursday the head of US diplomacy for Latin America, Brian Nichols.

The government of US President Joe Biden last year partially lifted some of the sanctions imposed on Venezuela in response to an agreement reached in October with the opposition.

This agreement pursued several objectives: the release of some imprisoned Americans and Venezuelan political prisoners, setting a date for the presidential elections and the lifting of the disqualification of all candidates for the elections.

Regime disqualifications

The elections will finally be held on July 28, with Maduro as the natural candidate for re-election and the opposition on the ropes with its main candidate, María Corina Machado, disqualified by the regime.

“In Venezuela, we took a calculated risk” about “the likelihood that the heirs of Hugo Chávez’s legacy would allow an election in which they did not control the outcome,” Nichols said at an event organized by the American business organization American Society – Council. of The Americas (AS/COA).

“We ultimately concluded that the status quo was bad for America, good for our adversaries, and would not advance the cause of democracy,” he added.

He stressed that Maduro’s refusal to restore the political rights of candidates, like Machado, “and his harassment and imprisonment” of many of his supporters were steps in the wrong direction.

But “despite these recent transgressions, we remain committed to supporting Venezuela’s democratic process,” said the senior State Department official.

The Biden government warned Caracas that if it does not change course it will reimpose sanctions on the oil and gas sector in Aprilas it already did in January with the state-owned Venezuelan gold mining company.

Although there is already a date for the elections, Washington is worried.

“Timelines are tight and we don’t want to prejudge how things will turn out, but the direction of travel is deeply concerning,” said Nichols,

He also highlighted that he hopes to work with democratic actors in Venezuela and allies in the region to decide how they respond “to a country that does not respect democratic norms.”