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May 29, 2024, 9:10am EDT
politicsSouth America
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Semafor Signals

Venezuela withdraws invite to EU election observers as fears over fair presidential vote grow

Insights from Efecto Cocuyo, The New York Times, Americas Quarterly, and El Tiempo

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Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.
Leonardo Fernandez Viloria/Reuters
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The News

Venezuela revoked its invitation for European Union election observers to attend the country’s presidential election in July, triggering new concerns over the likelihood of a free and fair vote.

The head of the National Electoral Council, who El Pais reported is a close ally of current President Nicolás Maduro, cited EU economic sanctions as the reason for the withdrawal, accusing the bloc of “neocolonialist and interventionist practices against Venezuela.”

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The EU, along with the US, imposed the sanctions in response to a government crackdown against the opposition as Maduro seeks his third consecutive term. He is widely expected to lose the polls should free elections be permitted.

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SIGNALS

Semafor Signals: Global insights on today's biggest stories.

There’s ‘a narrow door’ of opportunity for Venezuela

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Efecto Cocuyo, The New York Times

The United States left open “a narrow door” of opportunity even as it announced new sanctions against Venezuela in April, political analyst María Verónica Torres told Efecto Cocuyo. While Washington sought to punish Maduro’s curbs on the opposition, it offered an avenue for some US companies to continue operating in Venezuela “on a case-by-case basis,” like in the case of Chevron. “It’s a scenario that seeks a better positioning from Maduro and a way to calm the waters,” Torres said. Sanctions have been devastating for Venezuela, but they haven’t been good for the US either: The restrictions have pushed Caracas closer to Russia and China, and are partially responsible for the migrant crisis at the US border, the New York Times columnist Farah Stockman wrote.

Widespread uncertainty surrounds the election

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Source:  
Americas Quarterly, El Tiempo

Political uncertainty continues to roil both factions, according to political experts. Part of the trouble lies in an electoral system where “the winner takes all” and there are no guarantees for the losers, Michael Penfold wrote in Americas Quarterly. “The incentives to hold free and fair elections are currently close to nil,” he said. The opposition coalition fears a new ban on its candidate or that the election will be postponed, and that if they lose, they could end up being “completely wiped out from the political landscape.” Maduro’s Chavismo party, on the other hand, fears “political persecution” in the face of a defeat. Some doubt remains if the election will take place at all: “In Venezuela’s everything is possible. Anything could happen,” political analyst Ramón Muchacho told El Tiempo.

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