The United States Continues to Demand Free Elections in Venezuela Next Year
Brian A. Nichols, United States Undersecretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, reiterated the United States‘ demand for Nicolás Maduro’s regime to guarantee all conditions to hold free elections in Venezuela next year. Nichols called for an “expeditious and transparent process” to enable the presidential candidacy of María Corina Machado during a conversation with the Atlantic Council.
“It is key to have an expeditious and transparent process to authorize the candidacy of María Corina Machado. A decision also has to be made quickly. Maduro’s authorities have to demonstrate the courage to accept a serious and strong opposition candidate. There is a candidate who enjoys the support of the Unitary Platform,” said Nichols.
The Undersecretary of State also emphasized the importance of concluding the process before calling the elections in order to ensure that the candidates are on equal footing.
In relation to the agreements signed between the opposition and the Maduro regime, which imply a relief from the sanctions imposed by the United States, Nichols recognized that “Nicolás Maduro and his representatives have not fully met expectations.”
“We are going to suspend the lifting of sanctions if we consider that sufficient progress has not been made,” he stated in line with the warnings from Joe Biden’s government.
Nichols also highlighted that the United States made clear its expectations to the Maduro regime “to reinstate all candidates, release all Venezuelan political prisoners and imprisoned Americans.” He noted that these steps have not been taken.
The head of the delegation of the Venezuelan regime in the dialogue with the opposition, Jorge Rodríguez, said when asked about the conversations with the United States and the release of Americans in the Caribbean country, that “everything has its time,” despite Washington’s deadline of November 30 for progress in these areas.
The United States warned last Friday that it is willing to suspend “in the coming days” the relief of certain sanctions on Venezuela unless there is more progress in the country in the release of political prisoners, as agreed.
The Biden administration has promised that if Maduro does not take a series of measures, it will reinstate the sanctions it temporarily lifted after the Barbados agreements.
Thursday marked the deadline that the United States gave Venezuela for the release of American political prisoners in the Caribbean country, and to take steps toward enabling disqualified opposition politicians to hold elected public office.
María Corina Machado, who is disqualified until 2030, is the candidate of the Unitarian Platform after having swept the opposition primaries.