Venezuela is now less prepared for free and fair elections than it was in 2018, when the results of the presidential elections were rejected by more than two dozen countries, U.S. Special Representative for Venezuela Elliot Abrams said on July 28.
“The conditions for free and fair elections are actually much worse today than they were in May 2018, when [Nicolás] Maduro held the presidential elections,” Abrams said in a phone press conference.
The Nicolás Maduro regime has called for new parliamentary elections for December 6, 2020, a measure that the opposition has criticized as another attempt to squelch their political representation.
Civil rights groups have denounced the elections, which seek to renew the opposition-controlled National Assembly, as designed to favor the ruling party, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV, in Spanish).
“The parliamentary elections in December are already rigged,” Abrams said, as he pointed to the National Electoral Council (CNE, in Spanish), an institution under government control designed to regulate elections and whose members were appointed by the Supreme Tribunal of Justice (TSJ, in Spanish).
“The CNE […] is supposed to be an independent body […], however, the TSJ stopped negotiations to elect the members and appointed them itself,” Abrams said.
U.S. in contact with Norway about Venezuela
The diplomat also spoke about the visit of Norwegian government representatives, who have attempted to mediate a solution to Venezuela’s crisis. Abrams said that the United States is in contact with Norway and that he has spoken with some Norwegian diplomats.
“As for the Norwegians, we are, of course, in contact with Norway, and I’ve spoken to Norwegian diplomats since the return of the group that was in Caracas — a difficult trip for them if you think about it, from Oslo to Caracas in a time of COVID,” he said.
“I can’t say that I feel particularly optimistic about this trip, because it seems that the regime has already made up its mind […]; it seems to want to go forward with this phony election,” the U.S. official said.
Venezuela and North Korea
The United Nations (U.N.) warned Maduro that the military agreement with North Korea would violate Security Council regulations. U.N. investigators discovered that Diosdado Cabello himself signed that agreement.
In this respect, Abrams said that a violation of U.N. sanctions is potentially serious for the Maduro regime, because many countries would be willing to impose sanctions, although they have not yet done so individually.
“It also shows, again, the nature of this regime. We’ve seen recently the regime begin to build its relationship with Iran. Iran, Venezuela, a pair of pariah states. Iran and North Korea now — North Korea and Venezuela. And I think one of the other impacts, besides the potential sanctions themselves, is reminding countries worldwide about the nature of this regime and the partners that it seeks worldwide,” Abrams said.