Nicolás Maduro conditions the holding of free elections to the lifting of sanctions | International

Chavismo’s cards have been left on the table this Wednesday. President Nicolás Maduro has conditioned the holding of free elections in 2024 to the lifting of international sanctions. “If they want free elections, we want sanctions-free elections. There is the dilemma, that they remove them all to go to free, fresh elections, in the time determined by the National Electoral Council and the Constitution, ”said Maduro in a meeting with foreign correspondents in Caracas.

Maduro gathered journalists at the Miraflores Palace to talk about returning to the dialogue table with the opposition in Mexico, where the main objective is to set a date for the elections and ensure that they can be verified by the international community. . The Government returned to that negotiation, suspended a year ago, after it was agreed to unfreeze state accounts abroad, where there are some 3,000 million dollars stagnant.

Maduro defended in the talk that the origin of the Venezuelan crisis of these years is the sanctions, evading the responsibility of his Government. That is the main thesis that Chavismo defends to justify his permanence in power. He was very happy that frozen state funds were released in international banks to address the humanitarian crisis that has led several million Venezuelans to migrate.

“It is an agreement that has very important components of a social nature for the life of Venezuela and its essence is the recovery of more than 3,000 million retained, frozen and kidnapped in bank accounts in the United States and Europe that belong to Venezuelans,” he said. . And he went on to refer to his adversaries: “We are negotiating with the representatives of the kidnappers, with the kidnappers’ envoys, and an agreement has been signed with the representatives of the kidnappers for the money from Venezuela to be invested in the country”.

The Venezuelan leader argued that about 600 sanctions weigh on the national economy “that specifically impact the oil and productive sector.” He blamed the sector “of the coup, interventionist, terrorist and progringa (pro-American) right” of the Venezuelan opposition for the crisis of these years.

The opposition wants these presidential elections to be held in 2024 with the supervision of international organizations and with guarantees that they will be clean and fair. To try to defeat Maduro, the opponents are going to hold primaries from which a single candidate will emerge. Around that candidate there will be a common front against Chavismo, which right now controls the Venezuelan institutions. Opponents maintain that Maduro was fraudulently re-elected in 2018, which later gave rise to the interim government, that of Juan Guaidó.

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Guaidó appeared in recent years as the main political rival of Maduro, backed by the United States. However, that unity has cracked. Several of the members of the opposition delegation present in Mexico have visible differences of opinion with Guiadó’s political strategy and believe that the time has come to put an end to this parallel government and try to defeat Chavismo on its own ground. In some circles there is speculation about the possibility that the rest of the anti-Chavista parties will not ratify Guaidó in his position.

In the foreground, Jorge Rodríguez, Maduro’s right-hand man, at the press conference this Wednesday at the Miraflores Palace, Caracas.Ariana Cubillos (AP)

Maduro’s strong man in the government is Jorge Rodríguez, president of the Venezuelan parliament and head of the Chavista delegation in Mexico. Rodríguez insisted that Guaidó’s parallel government does not have legitimacy and that now the United States and the international community are sitting down to negotiate with the acting government of Venezuela.

A year ago, the Chavista government remained isolated and with serious financing problems due to the country’s economic crisis and international sanctions. His distance with the opposition was sidereal. With the United States there was no communication channel. In just a few months everything has changed. Washington has approached Chavismo to seek alternative energy sources to the Russian ones, Gustavo Petro from Colombia insists on adding Venezuela to regional organizations and presidents such as Emmanuel Macron and Joe Biden have proposed to unblock the Venezuelan situation.

For now, Chavismo has agreed to negotiate with the opposition in exchange for receiving a good amount of money that will come from abroad. Now, Maduro himself demands that all sanctions be lifted so that free elections can be held. The United States and Europe, the main sanctioners, will have to assess Maduro’s true desire for these elections to be competitive.

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