top of page

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: THE FUTURE OF DEMOCRACY IN VENEZUELA: INSIGHTS INTO THE JULY 2024 ELECTION

Dalton Riedlbauer, OSINT-RDT Team

Jennifer Loy, Chief Editor

Week of Monday, June 10, 2024


Venezuelan Elections[1]


The upcoming Venezuelan presidential election, scheduled for July 28, 2024, is set against a backdrop of severe political repression and economic crisis under the rule of Nicolás Maduro.[2] Considering the 2018 election, which was widely regarded in the international community as illegitimate, it is unlikely that Maduro will relinquish his power in July. The leading opposition figure was banned from participating, and the agreement between the government and the opposition to hold fair elections and invite international observers has not been fully respected.[3] When this agreement was reached in 2023, the US eased sanctions on Venezuela's oil industry. However, six months later, the sanctions were reimposed after the opposition was disqualified, reflecting continued international pressure.[4] The upcoming election will very unlikely be free or fair, raising the risk of significant geopolitical conflict while simultaneously amplifying the ongoing humanitarian crisis. His regime continues to dismantle Venezuela's democratic institutions, repress opposition, and prioritize alliances with nations such as Russia, China, and Cuba. Despite the very likely occurrence of another fraudulent election, ongoing international efforts aim to support democratic processes and alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela.


The 2018 presidential election in Venezuela was widely condemned as fraudulent and illegitimate by the international community. Institutions such as the Organization of American States (OAS) acknowledged that Maduro's regime used tactics to undermine democratic processes, including voter intimidation, media distortion, manipulation of electoral rules, and the suppression of opposition candidates. Maduro will almost certainly continue these efforts through July.[5] The 2018 election saw low voter turnout amid widespread boycotts by opposition parties, likely reflecting a lack of public confidence in the fairness of the electoral process and the fear of voting against Maduro. Venezuelan citizens will likely be hesitant to trust the credibility of the upcoming election due to the results of the previous one. Despite international condemnation, Maduro declared victory, solidifying his hold on power and triggering international sanctions, diplomatic isolation, and exacerbating the decade-long humanitarian crisis. This cascade of events following the illegitimate election almost certainly caused the worsening of humanitarian conditions and the refugee crisis. The fraudulent nature of the 2018 election has almost certainly set a precedent for the upcoming 2024 election, raising significant concerns about the likelihood of a repeat scenario where democratic processes are disregarded to maintain complete control.


The Maduro regime has consistently deployed tactics to suppress opposition voices and maintain control over Venezuela. Less than a year before the 2024 election, prominent opposition leader María Corina Machado was banned from holding office for alleged corruption, financial misconduct, and the support of US sanctions.[6] It is very likely the Maduro regime was involved in orchestrating this operation. This goes directly against the electoral reforms agreed upon between the Maduro regime and the opposition.[7] As long as Maduro remains in power, it is likely that Venezuela's Supreme Justice Tribunal will continue to uphold bans that support his cause. It is very unlikely that the election will be deemed fair and free due to the limitations placed on opposition candidates. The Maduro regime has demonstrated a pattern of targeting opposition leaders, their teams, and activists, with many facing harassment, arbitrary arrests, and detentions. The recent arrests of individuals associated with Machado's campaign, including a prominent human rights attorney, further underscore the regime's crackdown on political opposition. It is likely the current opposition frontrunner, Edmundo González Urrutia, will face similar obstacles leading up to the election next month.[8] Maduro’s continued suppression of those who oppose him has very likely deterred Venezuelans from running or voting against him.


The upcoming election in Venezuela will very likely be influenced by US sanctions and international pressure, both directed toward ensuring a free and fair democratic process. In October 2023, following the agreement that required the Maduro regime to conduct free and fair elections, the US eased sanctions on Venezuela's vital oil sector. Maduro disregarded these commitments, resulting in the US reimposing sanctions merely six months later.[9] The US will likely impose crippling sanctions if a fraudulent election takes place in July. Additionally, international institutions such as the UN and the OAS will likely continue to exert pressure on the Maduro regime to adjust its conduct. The UN provided humanitarian assistance, supported Venezuelan refugees, and monitored human rights abuses, although its Human Rights Office personnel were removed from the country earlier this year.[10] Meanwhile, the OAS has condemned Maduro's actions and called for democratic reforms. These combined efforts underscore the increasing international pressure on Maduro to reform Venezuela’s democratic processes, and will very likely continue through this election and the next.


Venezuela’s critical alliances with Russia, China, and Cuba, have kept the Maduro regime afloat despite a US-led, growing coalition of adversaries.[11] Their economic, military, and political support has allowed him to remain in power despite crippling sanctions, international pressure, and civil unrest.[12] Russia, China, and Cuba will likely support a Maduro victory in July regardless of fraudulent election claims. It is unlikely any of these nations will condemn the upcoming electoral process. Russia has been a key ally, supplying Venezuela with political defense at the UN Security Council, significant military equipment, and financial aid.[13] Russia will likely increase aid to Venezuela on all fronts if the US increases sanctions after the election. China has provided substantial loans and investments in exchange for future oil shipments, but it is likely frustrated with a lack of return on investment.[14] Cuba has also played a vital role, supplying security and military advisors in exchange for discounted oil.[15] However, the strength of these alliances and their impact on Venezuela's political landscape remain uncertain, as international pressure continues to mount for democratic reform. If the election is deemed fraudulent, it is likely that tension between the US and Venezuela’s allies, notably Russia, will increase.

 

[1] Venezuela, generated by a third party database

[2] Venezuela: Presidential election date to be held on 28 July, BBC, March 2024, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-68487783

[3] Ibid

[5] Venezuela election: Maduro wins second term amid claims of vote rigging, BBC, May 2018, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-44187838

[6] Venezuela court upholds ban on leading opposition presidential candidate Machado, Reuters, January 2024,  ​​https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/venezuela-arrests-allies-opposition-candidate-conspiracy-accusations-2024-01-26/

[7] Venezuela’s highest court upholds ban on opposition presidential candidate, AP News, January 2024, https://apnews.com/article/venezuela-opposition-candidate-ban-machado-maduro-ed68b5d422e454371186c745046ebd75

[8] Venezuela’s barred opposition candidate is now the fiery surrogate of her lesser-known replacement, AP News, May 2024, https://apnews.com/article/venezuela-presidential-election-maduro-opposition-machado-edmundo-aecb49c26aba7dd7c98c0139282c8ade

[10] Venezuela orders UN human rights office to close, accusing it of anti-government activity, AP News, February 2024, https://apnews.com/article/venezuela-un-human-rights-ordered-closed-baea877b4ab2cf2891d8c5743fb2e3ed

[11] Maduro’s Allies: Who Backs the Venezuelan Regime?, CFR, February 2019, https://www.cfr.org/in-brief/maduros-allies-who-backs-venezuelan-regime

[12] China Backs Venezuela As Opposition Figure Excluded From Election, Barron’s, March 2024, https://www.barrons.com/news/china-backs-venezuela-as-opposition-figure-excluded-from-election-1735a6a7

[13] Maduro’s Allies: Who Backs the Venezuelan Regime?, CFR, February 2019, https://www.cfr.org/in-brief/maduros-allies-who-backs-venezuelan-regime

[14] Ibid

[15] Ibid

37 views

Comentarios


Los comentarios se han desactivado.
bottom of page