Maduro's Immigration Card Could Influence America's Election, Not Just Venezuela's

By Rafael Romo

"There's almost zero chance" that the uncertain presidential elections in Venezuela this year will be free or fair, said AS/COA's Brian Winter to CNN.

Venezuelan voters are supposed to go to the polls to choose a president this year, but they don’t know when the election will be held … or even if it will be held.

Voters don’t know who the candidates will be either, other than the incumbent, socialist President Nicolás Maduro, who has made it abundantly clear he wants to stay in power for a third consecutive term.

In many respects, this election year is beginning to look as chaotic as 2018, when the ruling Socialist United Party of Venezuela (PSUV) pulled the event forward from the traditional month of December to April of that year, then changed it again, to May.

But the difference to 2018 is that what happens in the South American country’s presidential election this year may have an impact on another presidential election happening thousands of miles away.

Less than four months ago, Venezuela made an agreement with the United States to hold free and fair elections – a move aimed at thawing relations between the two countries. The agreement was crucial for US President Joe Biden because Venezuelan cooperation is needed to help control illegal immigration, which is shaping up as a key issue in the 2024 US election. The problem for Biden is, that deal now seems irreparably broken.

Maduro, the 61-year-old former bus driver who was appointed to the presidency by Hugo Chávez to succeed him when the late strongman realized he was terminally ill, has been in power since 2013 - and appears in no mood to give it up.

In public, Maduro has insisted elections will be held this year. [...]

Brian Winter, the editor-in-chief of Americas Quarterly magazine, says if there’s a presidential election this year in Venezuela, “there’s almost zero chance” that it would be free or fair. 

“Maduro is looking to conduct an election that appears just fair enough to improve his international image without risking his greatest nightmare, which would be to lose power. That’s why he’s wavering on the date and trying to bend the opposition’s main candidate,” Winter said...

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