U.S. tells Maduro: Allow Machado to run for president or face sanctions again

The Nicolas Maduro regime has until the end of November to fulfill its pledge to allow any opponent, including opposition leader María Corina Machado, to compete in next year’s presidential election, otherwise the Biden administration will reinstate the recently lifted sanctions, White House Latin America advisor Juan Gonzalez said Wednesday.

Speaking in an interview with Colombian TV station NTN24, Gonzalez said the Biden administration also expects the Caracas regime to free all political prisoners as well as all Americans jailed unjustly in the South American country.

“Before the end of November we have to see a process for the rehabilitation of all the candidates, including María Corina Machado,” Gonzalez said. “It should be Venezuelans who decide who are going to be their leaders.”

“We have to see results showing that this first step has been successful,” he added. The Biden administration has take “a fairly big step to send the signal of our commitment, but after November 30 if those expectations are not met, we will have to take steps to dismantle that sanctions relief.”

The U.S. government has been waiting for Caracas’ socialist regime to comply with the commitments it made in a series of negotiations held throughout the year with members of the Biden administration. The talks culminated in the signing last month in Barbados of an accord with opposition leaders to hold presidential elections next year.

Those commitments included allowing any opposition leader to compete, implementing deep reforms to the often criticized electoral system, allowing international observers to monitor the election and freeing all political prisoners. In exchange, the administration granted a six-month general license temporarily authorizing U.S. transactions involving the oil and gas sector in Venezuela, and a second general license authorizing the operations of state-run Minerven, a previously sanctioned gold mining enterprise that had been trading in the black market.

But instead of lifting the previously implemented ban prohibiting a number of top opposition leaders from running for public office, the Venezuelan government, through its Supreme Court, issued a new ruling dismantling the results of a primary election held by the opposition last month, in which Machado won more than 92% of the vote.

This was seen in the U.S. as a sign that Maduro has no intention of keeping his word.

“It’s taken them just two weeks to violate” the agreement, Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio told Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a recent Senate hearing. “They canceled the opposition’s primary election and they continue to ban the winner of the primary. They basically wiped out the election. They’ve broken the deal. Are we going to reimpose sanctions?”