Venezuela's Comptroller General Friday announced opposition leader María Corina Machado had been disenfranchised for 15 years, thus rendering her ineligible to run in next year's presidential elections.
Many foreign analysts have dubbed such a measure as tantamount to the last nail to the coffin of free and democratic elections in a country where the most prominent leaders standing up to President Nicolás Maduro are unable to compete. Besides Machado, Henrique Capriles, a two-time presidential candidate, and Juan Guaidó, who has been recognized as interim president by more than 50 countries, will also be ineligible to run.
Machado's disqualification stems from her time as a Congresswoman from 2011 to 2014. The measure had originally been decreed in 2015, albeit for just one year. The extension was because she supported US sanctions against Maduro, the Comptroller argued.
A staunch opponent of Chavismo, Machado said on social media that the ban on her was useless and that the regime already knows it is defeated.
Now we will vote with more strength, more defiance, and more will in the primaries, she added.
Machado's disenfranchisement is an unconstitutional, unfounded, and shameful action, Capriles argued. We categorically reject this new example of the anti-democratic course of Maduro and his regime, he added.
Capriles has also been barred from public office since 2017 in a sentence valid for 15 years. Still, he has been chosen to represent the opposing coalition Popular Will in the opposition primaries.
Guaidó was charged in 2019 for failing to explain the origin of the funds he used to pay for trips abroad, as well as for his income not matching his expenses. He is also banned from holding public office for 15 years. He is in self-exile in the US.
The Venezuelan Comptroller General's decision was announced on the same day that former president Jair Bolsonaro was declared ineligible for eight years by the TSE (Superior Electoral Court).
José Brito, a deputy to the National Assembly of 2020, released Friday a communiqué from the Comptroller General's Office ratifying the political disqualification of María Corina Machado for 15 years, as of 2015.
The document, which has Brito as addressee, adds: I inform you that the patrimonial investigation continued and it was found that the citizen María Corina Machado is disqualified for the exercise of any public office for a period of 15 years, in accordance with the provisions of article 105 of the Organic Law of the Comptroller General of the Republic and of the National System of Fiscal Control, and numeral 2 of article 44 of the Anti-Corruption Law.
Machado is said to have committed actions against public ethics, administrative morality, the rule of law, peace, and sovereignty of the Republic, according to the Comptroller's Office, which also insisted Machado has been a participant in the corruption scheme orchestrated by the usurper Juan Gerardo Antonio Guaidó Márquez and is involved in the criminal blockade of Venezuela, the shameless plundering of companies and wealth and the surrender of Citgo Holding, Inc. and Citgo Petroleum Corporation.
The Organization of American States (OAS) said the Maduro government used disenfranchisement to cling to power while a deep humanitarian and economic crisis continues in the country.
Such a decision is arbitrary and contrary to the rule of law. It violates elementary political and civil rights, including those stipulated in Article 23 of the American Convention on Human Rights regarding the right to elect and be elected, the General Secretariat of the OAS said in a statement that also called for the holding of fair, free and transparent elections next year.
The US government also condemned Friday's decision by the Venezuelan Comptroller's Office because it deprives the Venezuelan people of basic political rights, State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement. Venezuelans deserve the right to select a candidate to participate in the 2024 presidential elections without interference, Miller stressed.