Colombian president criticizes disqualification of Venezuelan opposition candidate

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By LatAm Reports Editor

Gustavo Petro called the decision of the regime of Nicolas Maduro to disqualify María Corina Machado as “undemocratic coup.”

Colombian President Gustavo Petro has been a Maduro ally, but has distanced himself in recent days after the disqualification of opposition candidates.

Colombia’s president, Gustavo Petro, described Monday as an “undemocratic coup” the disqualification of María Corina Machado as an opposition candidate in Venezuela’s elections, in an unprecedented dart to the allied government of Nicolas Maduro.

“Mrs. María Corina and others, were previously disqualified from participating in electoral campaigns by administrative authorities (…) here, as a kind of double morality, we attack what they do there because it is undoubtedly an anti-democratic blow, but we hide that here too is done,” said the left-wing president.

Unlike the United States and some Latin American governments, the Colombian president has kept some distance from the July 28 elections in Venezuela in which Maduro seeks a third term. Over the days, Petro’s government has been hardening its discourse with some Foreign Ministry communiqués in which it expressed its “concern” about the situation in the neighboring country.

“It was the way to close the way to a real political current, existing in Venezuela, the people will determine whether or not the majority,” the president added.

Venezuela is preparing for elections marked by political disqualification and judicial offensive against Maduro’s main rival, opponent Machado. Several of his collaborators were arrested and his 80-year-old surrogate Corina Yoris was excluded from the elections following allegations of blockages to the system.

Petro, a Maduro ally, has been criticized for not tightening his position against Venezuela and accused of being complicit in a possible attempt by the government to perpetrate himself in power.
Maduro called Monday the alarm expressed by several governments “circus” after the exclusion of Yoris, backed by the country’s largest opposition bloc.

“The circus started, the campaign began, there are nerves in Washington, there are nerves in the surnames of the oligarchy, there are nerves in the regional right, leave the nerves,” the president said during one of his weekly television shows.

The U.S. State Department, Colombia, Argentina and Brazil rejected the exclusion of Yoris, nominated by liberal Machado to replace her in the elections.

During the process of applications that closed on March 25 at midnight, 13 candidates registered, but nine are branded by the traditional opposition of “collaborators” of the government. Manuel Rosales, a former former roman-rival of Hugo Chávez, governor of the oil state Zulia (west), also ran.