Venezuelan Opposition Criticizes EU Election Ban

Venezuelan Opposition Criticizes EU Election Ban
Venezuelan Opposition Criticizes EU Election Ban

The Venezuelan opposition leader María Corina Machado said that President Nicolás Maduro "is afraid" of international observation in the July 28 presidential elections, after the electoral authority withdrew the invitation to the European Union.

Machado, the front-runner in the polls but disqualified from holding public office, led a rally on the outskirts of Caracas alongside Edmundo González Urrutia, the official opposition candidate who will face President Nicolás Maduro.

"They are afraid of international observation here, they are afraid of observation," Machado said in front of the crowd in Guatire, 40 km from Caracas. "So let them prepare because Venezuelan citizens will be present at every voting table."

"Each one of you must be a witness at every table," agreed González, a 74-year-old diplomat who was unknown until his candidacy. "We will achieve great citizen observation to protect the vote, because on July 28 we will win."

The pro-government National Electoral Council (CNE) announced its decision to exclude European observation after the bloc ratified individual sanctions against some 50 Chavista officials, but temporarily suspended sanctions against the head of that body, Elvis Amoroso.

Amoroso described the measure as "blackmail" and called the bloc a "new meddling actor," a term Chavismo constantly attributes to Washington.

Chavismo also held a demonstration in Guatire: it is a common practice to march in the same places selected by the opposition.

Maduro, who is seeking a third term that would keep him in power for 18 years, led another rally in Puerto Cabello, Carabobo state.

"We have left the worst times behind, what's coming is growth, development, prosperity, and recovery," he said.