- author, Drafting
- Role, BBC World News
On Friday, the Supreme Court of Venezuela confirmed that opposition presidential candidate Maria Corina Machado was politically barred from holding public office, according to a ruling revealed on the organization’s website.
The Supreme Court stated that “Citizen Maria Corina Machado Barisica is ineligible to exercise public office for 15 years.”
Machado was chosen as the unity candidate of the opposition to President Nicolas Maduro in the October primaries in which she won a landslide victory.
Weeks later, after the signing between the government and the Venezuelan opposition of the so-called Barbados Agreements, aimed at facilitating the holding of presidential elections with guarantees in Venezuela this year, Machado asked the court to clarify whether she was subject to disqualification.
The leader of the “Vente Venezuela” movement confirmed that she was never officially notified of any disqualification, so she cannot be deprived of the right to challenge Maduro for the presidency in the elections scheduled for this year.
On Friday, after hearing the court ruling, Machado posted on his X account that “the regime has decided to terminate the Barbados Agreement.”
He added: “What is not over yet is our struggle to conquer democracy through free and fair elections.”
Machado accused Maduro and his “criminal regime” of choosing the path of “rigged elections.”“This will not happen,” he predicted.
Last June, Venezuela's Comptroller General (CGR) reported that it had disqualified Machado from running for elected office for 15 years.
This information was announced by Representative Jose Brito, a member of the National Assembly controlled by the ruling party.
The exclusion was then justified by Machado's support for US sanctions against the government of Nicolas Maduro, as well as his support for Juan Guaido, the opposition leader who assumed the presidency of the Venezuelan parliament and who declared himself interim president of Venezuela in January. 2019, after Maduro began a second term following his re-election in elections deemed fraudulent by the United States, the European Union, and other countries.
For the Venezuelan opposition, Machado's veto represents an attempt by Maduro to avoid facing a more popular leader and distort the verdict of the polls once again.
Barbados operation 'fatally wounded'
The confirmation of Machado's veto power as a presidential candidate represents a serious setback to the negotiation process that began in Barbados.
The United States, which temporarily eased sanctions on the Maduro government in October thanks to an agreement on election guarantees, conditioned the continuation of that review on Caracas starting to lift the embargo and releasing political prisoners and unjustly “detained” Americans.
Lifting the exclusions imposed on key opposition figures, such as Machado or Henrique Capriles, was another condition demanded by Washington.
The agreement signed in October allows opposition candidates to appeal their disqualification before the country's Supreme Court, which has repeatedly ruled in favor of the government for years.
Machado went to the Supreme Court in December, and now finds confirmation that they will not allow him to participate.
The previous day, Vice President and key figure in the Venezuelan government, Delcy Rodriguez, announced that Machado could not be a candidate.
Rodriguez also confirmed Nicolas Maduro's candidacy for the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela.
The political climate in Venezuela has become tense again recently. The government denounced an alleged plot to assassinate Maduro and accused journalists and activists of participating in it.
Shortly before, three regional leaders of Machado's campaign were arrested and linked to an alleged conspiracy against the government, according to the accusation of the Attorney General, Tarek William Saab, who was previously a constituent deputy and Chavismo-elected governor.
Saab said Guillermo Lopez, Luis Camacaro and Juan Fritz, already arrested, were part of a group of at least 11 people who allegedly tried to rob a military armory last year, then attack Freddy Bernal, the state's pro-government governor. State of Tachira, border with Colombia.
Amid these allegations of conspiracies that led to the arrest of civilians and soldiers, Maduro said on Thursday that the agreements his government signed with the opposition in October 2023 were a “mortal wound.”
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