Maduro officially runs for re-election while potential rivals work to register candidacy

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — This is the story of two very different political movements.

On Monday, a large number of supporters President Nicolás Maduro He rallied on a huge stage covered in the red, yellow and blue colors of the Venezuelan flag outside the Electoral Commission headquarters, where he officially secured his candidacy for a third term that will run until 2031 Year. Meanwhile, his would-be rivals tried to register their candidates, an unknown 80-year-old newcomer who found himself unable to do so before a looming deadline – in what the opposition denounced as the latest attack on Venezuelan democracy.

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Opinion polls show Venezuelans would overwhelmingly defeat the unpopular Maduro if given a slight chance.

On Monday, March 25, 2024, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and his wife Cilia Flores rode in a convertible to the National Electoral Commission (CNE) in Caracas, Venezuela, formalizing his candidacy for re-election to the presidency. Scheduled for July 28th. (AP Photo/Matthias Delacroix)

But so far the self-styled socialist leader has succeeded in preventing his main rivals from running, while alternately negotiating and then reneging on minimal electoral guarantees promised to the U.S. government in exchange for the lifting of oil sanctions. .

In an effort to force Maduro to adopt authoritarian tactics, two smaller opposition parties last week nominated former academic Corina Yoris to run in tightly managed elections in July.

The identity of the protest candidate surprised friends and foes alike. An academic who taught logic and philosophy at several Venezuelan universities, she is little known even in opposition circles. Her only public political role so far has been as a member of the committee organizing last year’s opposition primary election, when 2.4 million voters in Venezuela and abroad chose a candidate to run against Maduro despite the government’s threat of criminal prosecution.

But her relative anonymity, clean record and affectionate grandmotherly demeanor soon became part of her appeal. Even her first name – Corinne – is seen as an asset, a not-so-subtle reminder of her eponymous ally, Maria Corina MachadoAfter winning the primary election by a landslide last October, Maduro’s Supreme Court declared her candidacy illegal.

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“We have exhausted all possibilities,” Uris said at a news conference Monday, where she detailed her failed attempts to register candidates electronically and in person. “It’s not just Corina Uris’s name that’s been rejected, but the name of any citizen who wants to run.”

Maduro did not mention Uris by name when registering his candidacy on Monday, but blasted his would-be rivals as “puppets” of traditional elites.

He framed his re-election campaign in historic terms, saying it was a continuation of the Bolivarian revolution launched by the late Hugo Chávez twenty-five years ago and a situation in which the U.S. “empire” seeks to mine Venezuelan sovereignty. the only way to protect Venezuela’s sovereignty. The “devil’s claws” extend to the oil wealth of OPEC countries.

“I can only say humbly that I, like you, are made of mud,” he said in a televised address to the National Electoral Commission.

So far, 10 candidates have registered to run in July’s elections, none of whom are linked to the main opposition alliance, and several are considered to pose little threat to Maduro’s power base. After a political party registers a candidate, it has until April 16 to name a replacement.

Maduro’s supporters have wasted little time attacking Collina since she was appointed to lead the opposition’s electoral fight.

Over the weekend, several members of the ruling Socialist Party claimed on social media that Juris, a Uruguayan citizen, was ineligible to run because Venezuela’s constitution requires the president to be a natural-born citizen without dual nationality.

On Monday, Uris dismissed such comments as a desperate ploy to disqualify her candidacy.

“I was born in Caracas, my parents were born in Venezuela, and I never chose any other nationality,” she said.

Venezuela’s elections are taking place against the backdrop of an ongoing crackdown on dissent aimed at ensuring Maduro remains in power. In addition to blocking Machado’s candidacy, the committee last week issued arrest warrants for several of her aides. China also jailed a prominent human rights lawyer earlier this year and later closed the United Nations human rights office over criticism of the arrest and gave its international staff 72 hours to leave the country.

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But rather than boycotting the vote, as they did in 2018 when Maduro was reelected to a second six-year term, the opposition sought to call Maduro’s bluff and force him to steal votes outright.

The strategy appears to have the full support of U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration, which so far is in no rush to reimpose oil sanctions that were eased last year in response to an election guarantee deal struck between Maduro and the opposition in Barbados.

While some of these promises have been partially fulfilled, others, such as the right of each political movement to freely choose its candidates, have been all but ignored, raising questions about the wisdom of a hands-off approach that has so far only emboldened Maduro question. .

“Maduro and his criminal backers could learn something about patriotism, sacrifice and love of country from the Venezuelan opposition,” Senator Dick DurbinIllinois Democrat and Majority Whip said in a message posted on X (formerly Twitter) over the weekend. “Their candidates must be allowed to register by Monday or the lifting of sanctions must be halted.”

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Geoff Ramsey, a senior analyst on Venezuela at the Atlantic Council in Washington, said the Biden administration is trying to retain some leverage over Maduro while appeasing those it sees as being too lenient with Caracas. of skeptics, putting the Biden administration in a difficult position.

“The United States will almost certainly have to lift some sanctions, but there are ways to do that while still keeping the regime on the table,” he said. “But if Machado and the broader opposition can’t even register The hands of the candidates, the president, will be tied.”

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By Ali Raza

I am a dedicated and skilled News Content Writer with a passion for delivering accurate and engaging stories to a diverse audience. With a solid background in journalism and a keen eye for detail, I bring a commitment to excellence and a deep understanding of the evolving media landscape.

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