Industrial Engineer Maria Corina Machado Declares Victory in Venezuelan Opposition’s Presidential Primary
Industrial engineer Maria Corina Machado has emerged as the winner of the Venezuelan opposition’s presidential primary, securing a significant portion of the votes with only a quarter of the count completed.
The primary was organized by the opposition to select a unified candidate to challenge President Nicolas Maduro in the upcoming presidential elections. The United States has pledged to roll back sanctions relief if the Venezuelan government fails to lift bans preventing certain opposition figures from holding office.
Machado, who advocates for the privatization of the state oil company PDVSA, has garnered 93% of the vote so far, with more than a quarter of the ballot boxes counted. The primary’s organizing commission provided this update around midnight on Sunday.
The counting process, which experienced a delay due to a server blockage, is set to continue on Monday. However, the timing of the next results update remains uncertain.
Despite the lack of government assistance, voter turnout exceeded expectations in some states, demonstrating the determination of the Venezuelan people to participate in the democratic process.
Carlos Prosperi, a former lawmaker, currently stands as Machado’s closest rival with 4.75% of the vote. Machado, 56 years old, has consistently maintained a significant lead over her competitors in various polls.
However, Machado’s eligibility to run in the general election remains uncertain due to her previous support for the sanctions imposed on Maduro’s government. Although an election deal was signed between the opposition and the government, allowing each side to choose its candidate according to internal rules, it did not retract the disqualifications.
The United States, in response to the agreement, eased sanctions on Venezuelan oil, gas, and bonds but set a deadline for Maduro to rescind the bans against the opposition, release political prisoners, and free “wrongfully detained” Americans by the end of November.
While a few individuals were released, the Maduro government stated that those with disqualifications would still be prohibited from running in the 2024 contest.
The opposition, considering these disqualifications unlawful, has not yet revealed its course of action if Machado wins the primary but remains unable to compete in 2024. Machado herself has expressed the possibility of pressuring electoral authorities to allow her registration, while others argue that a substitute candidate may be necessary.
As the Venezuelan political landscape continues to evolve, it remains to be seen how the opposition and the government will navigate the challenges ahead.