Venezuela is a country in crisis as its president, Nicolas Maduro, remains in power five years after a surprising election in which the opposition in Caracas secured a majority in the country’s legislature. However, Mr Maduro’s rule has been characterised by human rights transgressions, quashing of dissent and anti-democratic practices. After the vote, Mr Maduro attempted to form a new legislature composed of political allies – rewriting the country’s constitution and sparking international outrage. This came amid Venezuela’s worsening economic crisis as US sanctions failed to oust Mr Maduro from the presidency.
The row has raged on for years, but could come to a controversial end if a deal is agreed with the help of the EU.
The bloc has been involved in negotiations between the Venezuelan regime and opposition figures.
Earlier this month, reports suggested that the EU helped broker an agreement between Mr Maduro and opposition figures.
It could involve the release of 100 political prisoners as a gesture of “goodwill” in the lead-up to December’s vote, but Ryan Berg of the American Enterprise Institute argues that this could be a mistake by Brussels.
He said in his CapX column: “The most bizarre plot twist, though, is that the European Union may be about to offer its blessing to this sham of an election.
“It barely needs saying that this would be a dreadful error of judgment from Brussels, one that risks legitimising Maduro’s despotic rule while also undermining the opposition the EU ostensibly wants to support.”
Josep Borrell, the EU’s new Foreign Policy spokesman, has called for the next Venezuelan election in December to be “transparent, inclusive, free and fair”, but Mr Berg said the Brussels figure failed to make concrete demands.
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He added that Mr Borrell should demand concessions from the Venezuelan government, and also deny Mr Maduro any international recognition and side with the opposition boycott of the vote.
The EU has been mostly critical of the Venezuelan regime during Mr Maduro’s rule.
More than half of its member states, including the UK (before it left in January 2020), France, Germany, and Spain, offered support for the opposition in Caracas.
In February, 19 EU member states made a joint declaration supporting and recognising Juan Guaidó as acting president of Venezuela, asking that he “summons free, just and democratic presidential elections”.
The EU condemned Mr Maduro’s attack on the legislature calling the action a “serious violation of the Venezuelan constitution, as well as of the rule of law and separation of power”.
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In June, Mr Maduro ordered the EU’s ambassador to leave the country within 72 hours.
Isabel Brilhante Pedrosa’s expulsion came hours after the EU placed sanctions on 11 Venezuelan officials.
Mr Maduro said: “If they can’t respect Venezuela, then they should leave it.
“A plane can be loaned for her to leave.”