Sun. Apr 21st, 2024

Venezuelan opposition leader Maria Corina Machado expressed strong criticism on Saturday over what she deemed a governmental “maneuver” to obstruct her chosen representative from registering as a candidate for the upcoming presidential election, in which she herself is banned from participating.

Machado, 56, emerged victorious in an opposition primary last year but has faced obstacles in overturning the ban preventing her from holding public office. With a looming deadline on Monday for her coalition to nominate an alternative candidate, the opposition alleged that efforts to register their nominee, Corina Yoris, via the National Electoral Council (CNE) website were being thwarted as of Saturday.

“I am warning the people of Venezuela and the world about the maneuver underway to block the registration with the CNE of the candidate representing all united democrats of Venezuela,” Machado voiced her concerns, as conveyed on social media platform X, previously known as Twitter.

Yoris, an 80-year-old former university professor without prior political experience, has garnered Machado’s full confidence. She played a pivotal role in overseeing the opposition primaries in October, where Machado secured a decisive victory, prompting unease within President Nicolas Maduro’s administration due to her surging popularity.

Maduro, who has held power since 2013 with military backing amid a severe economic downturn that has forced millions to flee Venezuela, has intensified crackdowns on Machado’s campaign. This week, two of her key aides were arrested, and warrants were issued for seven others, on charges of seeking to destabilize the nation.

Despite Machado’s exclusion from the ballot, she commands considerable support, with some polls indicating approval ratings as high as 70 percent. Experts speculate that this support could potentially transfer to her replacement candidate in the July 28 election.

Highlighting Maduro’s alleged breach of an agreement signed in Barbados last year, which pledged to conduct a free and fair election in 2024 with international oversight, Machado accused the government of reneging on its commitments. Consequently, the United States, which had eased certain sanctions on Venezuela following the agreement, is reportedly reconsidering its stance.

Darwin Quintana, a 37-year-old security guard, expressed disillusionment with the electoral process, stating, “Unfortunately (Maduro’s victory) has already been decided, but I am still going to do everything I can to do something against this government.”

Maduro, a former bus driver and protege of late President Hugo Chavez, seeks a third six-year term. He first assumed office in 2013, following Chavez’s demise, and secured reelection in 2018 in polls denounced as fraudulent by numerous nations, including the United States.

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