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Venezuela bars opposition leader Machado from public office

July 1, 2023

Maria Corina Machado was set to run for the president of Venezuela against Nicolas Maduro in 2024. Officials said the ban was triggered by her support for US sanctions and Maduro's rival Juan Guaido.

Venezuela's Maria Corina Machado surrounded by her supporters
Maria Corina Machado's disqualification from holding public office means she will not be able to run for the presidential elections in 2024Image: Pedro Rances Mattey/AP Photo/picture alliance

Venezuelan presidential hopeful Maria Corina Machado has been barred from holding public office for 15 years, the country's controller general said in an official statement on Friday. Machado was previously nominated to run for the 2024 presidential elections against incumbent Nicolas Maduro.

Machado is from the most radical wing of the opposition. The 55-year-old, who is an industrial engineer and a former lawmaker, was the opposition's most favorite candidate to run for president.

The statement said that a previous ban on Machado has been extended because she supported US sanctions against the Maduro government and backed former opposition leader Juan Guaido.

Machado has been disqualified on the basis of "administrative irregularities" during her tenure as a deputy, according to the officials. This means Machado will not be able register with electoral authorities and therefore run for the presidential election.

US calls out ban against Machado

The US, which opposes the socialist government of Nicolas Maduro, has questioned the move to bar Machado.

"Today's decision to disqualify Maria Corina Machado from participating in the electoral process deprives the Venezuelan people of basic political rights. Venezuelans deserve the right to select a candidate to participate in presidential elections in 2024 without interference," a US State Department spokesman said in a statement.

The Organization of American States also slammed the decision and called for free and transparent elections.

"The regime resorts to disqualifications and proscriptions to cling to power and liquidate any likeness to democracy while it deepens the political, social, humanitarian and economic crisis the country is living through," the OAS said in a statement.

The opposition has accused the government of using the bans to maintain the status quo and prevent change in government.

Apathy spreads in Venezuela

mf/dj (AFP, Reuters)