Venezuela’s upcoming elections, US works to ensure credibility

A senior administration official stated that the U.S. government is striving to ensure the credibility of the upcoming Venezuelan elections despite challenges.  Such presidential election is scheduled for July 28 this year,  giving an historical opportunity since the 2000s for an opposition candidate to win.

According to the New York Times, “it’s already clear that the election won’t be entirely free or fair”. This does not mean that the opposition candidate, former diplomat Edmundo González, does not have a chance though as the Maduro government did allow him to register. Previously this year, Venezuela’s highest court had ruled that María Corina Machado, popular opposition leader, was barred from running. There remains significant obstacles though as The Latin Times reports that even if the opposition wins, “Maduro has shown little interest in leaving his position”. The Biden administration plans to continue working with Venezuelan stakeholders, as well as regional and European counterparts, to keep the elections as credible as possible and curb Maduro’s influence, also according to The Latin Times. 

The issue in Venezuela extends beyond the credibility of the upcoming presidential elections, encompassing economic and social dimensions deeply intertwined with political factors. The core problem lies in the authoritarian ideology and policies initiated by Chávez and continued by Maduro. These policies have eroded Venezuela’s democratic institutions, exacerbating the socio-economic crisis and impacting the electoral process. While international organizations and regional bodies have condemned actions of the Maduro government and the U.S. has imposed extensive sanctions, meaningful change must come from within. Supporting stakeholders in Venezuela and the region is crucial to achieving the overall goal of a fair and free election. 

Venezuela is home to the world’s largest oil reserves but decades of poor governance has led the country into severe political and economic turmoil. The roots of the current crisis can be traced back to the rise of Chavismo, a socialist movement initiated by Hugo Chávez, whose administration promoted this left-wing populist ideology combining elements of democratic socialism, socialist patriotism, and Bolivarianism. Though Chávez was originally democratically elected, his movement grew increasingly authoritarian until his death in 2013, when Nicolás Maduro continued these policies. Under Maduro’s administration, the country experienced an economic collapse in 2013 which has caused widespread hardship, prompting millions of Venezeulans to flee their homes in search of better living conditions, resulting in one of the largest displacements in Latin American history. 

The upcoming presidential election in Venezuela this summer is a critical juncture for the nation’s future, presenting a rare opportunity for the opposition to challenge the authoritarian regime despite expected issues. This election’s outcome will impact regional stability and security, giving it the potential to restore democracy in Venezuela and address the country’s economic and social crises. The Biden’s administration’s efforts, along with international support, aim to bolster this process, but enduring change must originate from within Venezuela. With polls showing substantial support for the opposition and increased international scrutiny, there is hope that this election could become a pivotal moment in Venezuela’s history, leading to a shift in power and a brighter future.