Venezuela Moves Targeting Opposition, Miami Exiles Draw Ire of Biden Administration

By Antonio Maria Delgado and Jacqueline Charles

"Maduro is highly unlikely to hold free and fair elections this year," said AS/COA's Eric Farnsworth to the Miami Herald.

The Biden administration is expressing “deep concerns” about nearly three dozen arrest warrants issued by Venezuela leader Nicolás Maduro to detain critics of his regime including journalists, opposition leaders and former members of the military.

The warrants, the State Department said late Tuesday, are contrary to the electoral deal reached last year in Barbados in which the Venezuelan government agreed to open the electoral process to, among other things, allow opponents to run for office including the presidency.

The announcement was made a day after the regime’s attorney general, Tarek William Saab, claimed that Venezuelan officials had thwarted at least four different plots to overthrow Maduro and that at least 32 people had been arrested since last May.

In announcing the alleged plots to overthrow Maduro, Saab accused members of the Venezuelan community in South Florida, claiming they were involved in the conspiracy. The plot, he said, was orchestrated with the collaboration of “members of a Foreign Intelligence Organization.

“This foreign organization operates and holds clandestine meetings in the city of Bogotá to recruit members of security agencies of the Venezuelan State,” said Saab. “A CIA military base operates in Colombia, which seeks to attack the political and legal system of Venezuela.

The State Department did not address Saab’s claims directly but strongly denounced the arrests. The agency said the arrests violated the terms agreed on by the regime and the Venezuelan opposition last October in Barbados, which led to Washington lifting some oil sanctions against Caracas. [...]

Eric Farnsworth, head of the Washington office of the Council of the Americas business association and a former State Department official, says he isn’t isn’t surprised by recent events.

“I just don’t see a path to free and fair elections given current and deteriorating conditions and the challenge the U.S. and international community face in prioritizing Venezuela issues in the midst of other global crises,” he said. “The upshot is that without greater leverage to prompt him to do so, Maduro is highly unlikely to hold free and fair elections this year"...

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