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The Post’s View: Venezuela’s Maduro broke a promise on elections. The U.S. must respond.- WP Editorial Board

A woman holds a sign during a demonstration in Caracas on Wednesday. (Gabriela Oraa/AFP/Getty Images)
A woman holds a sign during a demonstration in Caracas on Wednesday. (Gabriela Oraa/AFP)

By The Washington Post (WP) Editorial Board

Venezuela’s autocratic leader Nicolás Maduro, who last year signed on to a road map for free and fair elections this year, has decisively broken with the agreement, using coercion and duplicity to silence critics and the opposition. The Biden administration vowed to reimpose sanctions if this happened. It has no choice but to make good on this threat.

The United States lifted some sanctions in October after the Maduro government and the Venezuelan opposition, known as the Unitary Platform, agreed in Barbados on the election plan. It stipulated that Mr. Maduro would provide all candidates freedom of movement and assembly as well as equal access to the media.

But Mr. Maduro acts like the agreement never existed. In June, his government barred María Corina Machado, a conservative former legislator who won an informal primary to lead the opposition, from running. On Jan. 26, the regime-controlled Supreme Court turned down her bid for reinstatement. As the State Department noted, the process was a travesty: “Machado neither received a copy of the allegations against her nor was afforded the opportunity to respond to those allegations.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken demanded on Oct. 18 that Mr. Maduro “define a specific timeline and process for the expedited reinstatement of all candidates.” Mr. Blinken also said Venezuela should begin the release of “all wrongfully detained U.S. nationals and Venezuelan political prisoners.” Mr. Maduro released the Americans, 20 political prisoners in December and returned Leonard Glenn Francis, the fugitive defense contractor, to the United States — in exchange for a Venezuelan being held in the United States on corruption charges. But Mr. Maduro has hardly complied with the demand for reinstatement of all political candidates.

Instead, he has carried out a fresh wave of repression. On Friday, authorities arrested Rocío San Miguel, 57, a rights activist and outspoken critic of the regime, who is an expert on Venezuela’s armed forces. She leads a nongovernmental organization, Control Ciudadano, which advocates for civilian control of the military. Ms. San Miguel was seized at a Caracas airport, along with her daughter, and her whereabouts are unknown.

Venezuela’s attorney general, Tarek Saab, issued a statement saying Ms. San Miguel was arrested on charges of conspiracy and treason for involvement in a plot against Mr. Maduro and other officials, but no evidence or details were provided. Her former partner, Alejandro Gonzales, was charged with revealing military secrets. Four others including her daughter, were detained then reportedly released.

The regime has leveled similar specious charges of plotting against Mr. Maduro in recent weeks against at least 33 other people, including members of the democratic opposition, civil society, former members of the military and journalists. The chairwoman of a United Nations independent fact-finding mission to Venezuela, Marta Valiñas, said the arrests “appear to be part of a coordinated plan to silence critics and perceived opponents.” More than 200 civil society organizations in Venezuela issued a statement denouncing the “arbitrary detention and forced disappearance” of Ms. San Miguel and calling for her release. On Thursday, Venezuela ordered the local U.N. office on human rights to suspend operations and gave its staff 72 hours to leave the country. Foreign Affairs Minister Yván Gil said the office had been used by the international community “to maintain a discourse” against Venezuela.

After his government first aired the conspiracy charges, Mr. Maduro went on national television, saying, “The Barbados agreements are mortally wounded. I declare them in intensive care, they were stabbed, they were kicked.” He added, “I hope we can save the Barbados accords and advance the dialogue to achieve major national consensus agreements … without plans to assassinate me, assassinate us or spread violence in the country.”

But Mr. Maduro has shown he does not intend to allow real competition in the elections this year.

In October, Mr. Blinken was unequivocal. “Failure to abide by the terms of this arrangement will lead the United States to reverse steps we have taken,” he said. The United States issued a six-month license allowing Venezuela to export oil and gas, a significant lifting of the sanctions. The license expires April 18, and the Biden administration has said it will decide then how to proceed. The Treasury Department said it would keep sanctions lifted “only if the representatives of Maduro follow through with their commitments and take continued concrete steps toward a democratic election by the end of 2024.”

Mr. Biden can snap back the previous sanctions or impose new ones. The only thing the United States cannot do is look the other way as Mr. Maduro crushes democracy.

___________________________________________

he Post’s View . Editorials represent the views of The Washington Post as an institution, as determined through debate among members of the Editorial Board, based in the Opinions section and separate from the newsroom. Energiesnet.com does not necessarily share these views.

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published by The Washington Post, on February 15, 2024. All comments posted and published on EnergiesNet.com, do not reflect either for or against the opinion expressed in the comment as an endorsement of EnergiesNet.com or Petroleumworld.

Original article

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EnergiesNet.com 16 02 2022

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