Venezuela: Maduro Looks to ‘Sham’ Re-Election
As Venezuela prepares for a presidential election on Sunday, an election in which potential opposition candidates are either jailed or prohibited from competing, and with an electoral system manipulated to favor the incumbent, making President Nicolas Maduro almost certain to win by default, Freedom House issued the following statement:
“Maduro scheduled a clearly unconstitutional presidential election after destroying the remnants of Venezuela’s democracy and assuming all power as a dictator,” said Carlos Ponce, director of Latin America programs at Freedom House. “Venezuela’s neighbors and the United States should regard the voting on Sunday as a sham and make clear that they regard Maduro as the illegitimate leader of a failed state, where citizens are no longer allowed to choose their leaders.”
“The United States, Venezuela’s neighbors, and international organizations should also agree on a comprehensive plan for the democratic reconstruction of Venezuela,” Ponce said.
Ponce said a recovery plan should begin with the following:
- The United States and the international community should significantly tighten sanctions targeting Maduro and his inner circle, with measures that including visa bans, freezes of assets held in the United States, and measures against companies doing business with Venezuelan officials responsible for gross human rights violations, violence against peaceful protestors, or who have engaged in large-scale corruption.
- The United States should also consider bringing charges against Maduro and any involved associates in U.S. federal court under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) Act, because of alleged links between the president, some of his associates, and government entities such as the Venezuelan state-owned oil and natural gas company in international drug trafficking and money laundering involving misuse of the U.S. banking system.
- Other states should pursue similar cases under their domestic laws in accordance with the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC, also known as the Palermo Convention).
- The United States should appoint an Ambassador-at-Large for Venezuela, and create a Special Task Force for Venezuela to coordinate relief efforts for the worsening humanitarian crisis.
- The Special Task Force should also plan for an eventual transition of power by determining how best to restore rule of law, rebuild institutions, recover the economy, and bring perpetrators of international crimes to justice.
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.