Minister of Communication Jorge Rodriguez made a bombshell announcement this morning regarding the presidential election that is scheduled to take place next year, saying that Venezuelans would not go to the polls until all international financial sanctions on regime officials were lifted. Rodriguez also attached the signing of any agreement with the country’s political opposition to the condition.
Rodriguez put the regime’s demand bluntly, saying:
Venezuela will not see any electoral event, nor sign any agreement with the Venezuelan opposition until the grotesque sanctions that were placed at the command of the Venezuelan right wing by Donald Trump’s Department of the Treasury, as well Canadian, Spanish, or any other authority are lifted.
The brazenly authoritarian announcement is a new low for the Maduro regime, which dropped what remained of its thin democratic veneer earlier this year.
With his comment, Rodriguez was referencing a set of economic and travel sanctions placed against regime officials by the governments of the United States and Canada in several waves throughout the year. The sanctioned individuals have been singled out for their suspected involvement in human rights abuses in the country.
The U.S. has frozen the assets and barred the entry of vice president Tarek El Aissami, as well as other high-ranking PSUV officials like Adan Chavez and Bladimir Armas. The U.S. followed its targeted sanctions in August by placing a broader sanction on the regime’s ability to obtain foreign financing. In September of this year, the Canadian government placed financial and travel sanctions against 40 regime officials, including Nicolas Maduro himself, as well as Diosdado Cabello and Vladimir Padrino Lopez.
According to article 230 Venezuelan Constitution, the President of the Republic is elected to six-year terms. Because Maduro was elected in 2013, his term ends at the end of 2018, meaning that by law there must be a presidential election this year. Today’s announcement by Rodriguez is further confirmation that Venezuela is an authoritarian dictatorship where elections happen if and when the regime wants them to happen, and not when the law mandates that they happen.
The ruling PSUV party maintains that the Venezuelan opposition secretly controls global efforts against the Maduro regime, which has grown increasingly isolated in recent months following the brutal repression of anti-government protests earlier this year and its open contempt for Venezuelan law. According to this world view, the PSUV believes that the Venezuelan opposition directed the governments of the United States, Canada, and Spain to place sanctions on regime officials.
Mexico: PSUV/MUD Negotiation “Heading in Right Direction”
Mexican Foreign Affairs Minister Luis Videgaray said today that he believes that the ongoing negotiations between the PSUV and the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD) opposition bloc are “heading in the right direction”, and that was he was hopeful that the two sides would reach an agreement in the near future.
Speaking on the first set of talks, which took place in the Dominican Republic on December 1 and 2, Videgaray said:
What happened in Santo Domingo is the start of a process of negotiation that has yet to conclude. The negotiation process will come to an end in the next few days–which is what has been agreed–and its heading in the right direction.
The PSUV and the MUD are scheduled to meet again on the island on December 15.
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