U.S. weighs sanctions against Venezuela after court disqualifies leading opposition presidential candidate 

Photo of author

By LatAm Reports Editor

The State Department said it could impose punishments on Venezuela for the renowned political attacks on the opposition and civil society.

The United States is evaluating the restoration of sanctions against Venezuela after the country’s supreme court ratified the disqualification of opposition presidential candidate María Corina Machado, a State Department spokesman said Saturday.

Washington had announced last year a relaxation of measures against Caracas in the oil and gas sectors, but “now reviews” its policy of sanctions “in the face of this fact” and others that point to “candidates of the democratic opposition and civil society,” said spokesman Matthew Miller.

For the United States, the decision of the Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ), which disqualifies the candidate “victory of the democratic primaries of the opposition, contradicts the commitment made by the representatives of (President) Nicolas Maduro to organize an equitable presidential election in 2024.”

The spokesman stressed that Machado “was not notified of the allegations against him and did not have the possibility to respond.”

“This very worrying decision contradicts the commitments made by Maduro and his representatives under the Barbados agreement, which set an electoral road map and allowed all parties to choose their candidates for the presidential election,” the State Department said.

Venezuela’s supreme court on Friday upheld a political disqualification against Machado, who was elected in primaries as the opposition candidate to face Maduro in the presidential elections to be held in the second half.

The TSJ made the decision within a mechanism created under pressure from the United States so that the disqualified who “aspire to run” for the presidential elections could challenge the sanctions against them.

Earlier, the TSJ also ratified the disqualification of Henrique Capriles, who confronted former President Hugo Chávez in 2012 and a year later Maduro.

Political disqualifications are an old weapon of Chavismo to get its rivals out of the way. They are imposed by the Comptroller’s Office, empowered by law to take action against officials under investigation, although the Constitution provides that only a “definitely final” court ruling prevents the presidency from aspiring to the presidency.

This article has been translated from the original which first appeared in El Salvador