Venezuelan Opposition Fails to Register Presidential Candidate

Trent Barr
Trent Barr
Trent has years of experience and training in open source intelligence gathering and journalism. He specializes in Latin American, German, and Vatican affairs, with a broader interest in European politics. Trent serves as the Latin America Desk Chief for Atlas News.

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A Failure to Register:

Venezuela’s main opposition alliance announced that the group had failed to register the replacement candidate for Maria Machado due to what they claim is the fault of the government.

The coalition stated they nominated a temporary candidate, Edmundo González Urrutia, a former diplomat, with the hopes of registering another candidate at a later date. The coalition further claimed that they were prevented from registering the previous night and were unable to visit the CNE’s office due to demonstrations organized by the current ruling party, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV).

The announcement was issued in a press conference where both Machado and her replacement, Corina Yoris, spoke against the government’s choice to block Yoris from registering. Yoris claimed that the National Electoral Council (CNE) instituted the ban before stating that “If they [the CNE] deny my right to register, they are denying it to the entire country.”

María Corina Machado (left) hugs Corina Yoris Villasana. (Photo – Reuters/Gaby Oraa)

This follows a number of arrests by President Nicolas Maduro’s government to crack down on Venezuela’s leading opposition party, Vente Venezuela. Previously, authorities have arrested over 30 activists and political leaders, including key members of Vente Venezuela, in what they claim to be a “dangerous plot” against President Maduro.

A number of former heads of state, who are members of the Democratic Initiative of Spain and the Americas (IDEA), claimed that the 2023 Barbados Agreement, which granted a variety of concessions to Venezuela with the promise of holding fair elections, has instead facilitated “despotism under the Venezuelan dictatorship,” before demanding that the United States, Brazil, and Mexico “reverse such a state of things.”

Machado’s Ongoing Battle:

The move to register Yoris as the candidate of the opposition was solidified last Friday following a long legal battle fought by Machado to revoke a 15-year-long ban against holding office, which was ratified by the nation’s Supreme Court on January 26th. The ban was handed out following Machado’s criticisms of the Maduro government, the support of US sanctions on Venezuela, and her supposed role in a corruption scandal. Machado was a leading candidate in the Venezuelan primaries prior to her disqualification from running for president.

In a statement after hearing news of her original ban in June 2023, Machado stated that “a ban by the regime is garbage; it means zero,” before claiming that such a ban is a sign that Maduro’s government “is being defeated.”

Maria Corina Machado speaks at a rally on the anniversary of the 1958 uprising against he Venezuelan Military Dictatorship (Photo – AFP/Gabriel Oran)

Politicians found guilty of corruption are barred from holding public office for 15 years in Venezuela. However, the opposition has claimed the government has abused this power to control who can and cannot run for the presidency following the barring of three opposition candidates, including Machado.

Following the ban on Machado being upheld by the Venezuelan Supreme Court, the United States government announced a rollback on a portion of their sanctions relief in late January. They reimposed sanctions on Venezuela’s gold mining industry, which led to fierce condemnation from the Venezuelan government.

The Barbados agreement was signed between the Venezuelan government and the country’s political opposition in order to promote political rights and electoral guarantees for those wishing to run for office. The agreement outlines several key points, including recognizing the right of political actors to choose their candidates freely and promoting electoral guarantees before the National Electoral Council.

The agreement would also facilitate the release of 10 American prisoners, six of whom are believed to be falsely imprisoned, held in Venezuela in exchange for Alexander Saab, a Colombian businessman and Maduro’s close ally who was imprisoned in the U.S. on money laundering charges.


The move to prevent Yoris from registering for the Presidential Election is yet another move by Maduro to maintain power within Venezuela, a country which has been in economic despair for decades.

Opposition candidates will have to struggle in order to have a fighting chance against Maduro’s government, as many key positions which can limit those looking to be elected President are held by those loyal to Maduro’s regime.

Nicolas Maduro (Photo – People’s Dispatch)

With the rise in popularity of the opposition, Maduro has made a bold move in order to secure Venezuelan loyalty as well as measure his approval rating. This, of course, is the president’s claim against the disputed Essequibo region within Guyana, the border region between the two nations, which has long been disputed by Venezuela.

The historic claims, along with the recent discovery of a wealth of natural resources including gold and oil, have been a boon for Maduro in both raising public opinion of the government amidst the pounding of war drums and as a way to gauge the amount of public support Maduro currently enjoys.

While a war for Essequibo is unlikely, it is still plausible. Maduro may see this wealth of resources as a way to refill the near-empty coffers of the Venezuelan government. However, in doing so, Maduro would face even more severe action by the western, if not the world’s, powers in a conflict that would look very similar to the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.