Nicolás Maduro names conditions for free elections

Dhe Venezuelan rulers Nicolas Maduro has made a commitment: There will only be free elections in 2024 if the international sanctions against Venezuela are lifted, he said on Wednesday during a press conference with foreign correspondents in the capital, Caracas. “If they want free elections, we want sanction-free elections,” Maduro said. He made his request just a few days after talks between representatives of his government and the opposition, which were being mediated by Norway, resumed in Mexico City.

Both sides agreed last week to release frozen state money. They are to flow into a fund that is used to finance United Nations projects in Venezuela serves to combat the economic and humanitarian crisis in the country. Maduro spoke of “kidnapped” money and said the root of Venezuela’s crisis lay in the sanctions against the country. The sanctions weighed on the economy and would particularly affect the oil sector. Responsible for the crisis are the “coup-making, interventionist, terrorist and pro-American right” of the Venezuelan opposition.

Chevron is allowed to do business again

Actually they are sanctions a consequence of the suppression of the opposition and human rights violations by the Maduro regime in recent years. The crisis deepened with the presidential election four years ago, in which several promising opposition candidates were excluded from the election. The opposition and with it the United States, most EU members and numerous Latin American governments did not recognize Maduro’s re-election, whereupon the opposition formed an interim government led by politician Juan Guaidó.

Large sections of the opposition, meanwhile, believe that the “parallel government” should be abandoned. The main demands of the opposition in the talks in Mexico are guarantees for free and fair elections under the supervision of international organizations and the release of “political prisoners” from their ranks.

Observers attribute the fact that negotiations between the opposition and the government have gotten back on track to the energy crisis that followed the Russian invasion of Ukraine. A few months ago, Washington approached Caracas to find ways to partially replace Russian oil supplies with Venezuelan ones. Shortly after the agreement reached in Mexico a few days ago on the frozen state money, Washington gave the American oil company chevrons granted permission to restart its operations in Venezuela.

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