Venezuela opposition parties fear election ban


United States Treasury sanctions have now brought international scrutiny on Venezuela’s vice-president Tareck El Aissami, reportedly involved in narcotics rackets from Colombia to Mexico, who went from being an unknown student leader to the country’s powerful interior and justice minister, The New York Times reports.

Venezuela’s government is pushing forward with measures that could exclude opposition parties from future elections, potentially paving the way for the ruling Socialists to remain in power despite widespread anger over the country’s collapsing economy, Reuters adds:

Pollster Luis Vicente Leon, who is openly critical of the government, said continuing delays to the election for governors is a sign the Socialist Party may do the same for other elections in which it faces long odds.

“Once you seek mechanisms by which you avoid, delay, impede or block an election, why wouldn’t you block the rest?” he said in a recent radio interview. “It’s not that these elections (for governors) are in jeopardy, it’s that all elections are in jeopardy.”

The Venezuelan crisis has shown that civil society can also claim to be the victim of the non-democratic behavior of an elected government, observers suggest.

The arrest in recent days of four journalists has focused international attention on the worsening conditions for investigative reporting in Venezuela, notes CIVICUS.

Savvy diplomacy needs to follow sanctions

The administration should immediately follow its action against El Aissami with three additional steps, Mark Feierstein, a senior associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, writes for The Hill:

  • First, it should insist that any political transition be peaceful and constitutional. …Legitimate political outcomes include reviving the presidential recall referendum process or moving up next year’s scheduled presidential elections to this year.
  • Second, the United States should defend the opposition’s right to peaceful protests by warning Venezuelan authorities that anyone who orders or participates in violence against demonstrators will be held accountable by the international community.
  • Finally, the administration should continue the Obama administration efforts to build support at the Organization of American States to invoke the Inter-American Democratic Charter, which offers tools to defend democracy, including Venezuela’s potential suspension from the body. RTWT

What is the Path Forward for Venezuela? was the question addressed earlier this week (above) by Lilian Tintori, an international activist for human rights issues in Venezuela, and Miriam Kornblith, senior director for Latin America and the Caribbean at the National Endowment for Democracy.

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