Venezuela Cuts Power to Argentine Embassy as Relations Continue to Worsen

The Argentine government denounced the cutting of power to the nation’s embassy in Venezuela on Tuesday, stating that the cutting of power in connection with shielding political opponents was a violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

The Siege of an Embassy:

Power was suddenly cut in the embassy on Monday after the embassy accepted six members of the political opposition who have been issued arrest warrants. The six are members of Venezuela’s leading opposition party, Vente Venezuela, with those seeking safety in the embassy being close allies to Maria Machado, the country’s leading opposition candidate prior to her disqualification in February.

“The Argentine Republic expresses its concern about the incident which occurred yesterday [Monday], which resulted in interruption of electric supply in the official residence in Caracas, and warns the government of Venezuela regarding any deliberate action that endangers the security of Argentine diplomatic personnel and citizens Venezuelans under protection, remembering the obligation of the receiving State to safeguard diplomatic mission facilities against intrusions or damage and preserve its tranquility and dignity.”

“After issuing an arrest warrant, a siege began on the Argentine embassy in Caracas,” said Omar González Moreno, a former deputy and one of the regional coordinators of the party’s electoral command. “They have cut off our electricity. Refrigerators, water, and basic services.”

Gonzalez Moreno further stated that there is “video evidence” of state workers tampering with “part of the equipment that allows only the residence of the Argentine ambassador in Caracas to be without electrical service.”


Omar González Moreno, one of Vente Venezuela’s regional coordinator’s. (Photo – El Mercurio)

The five others consist of Magalli Meda, the campaign manager for Machado; Pedro Urruchurtu, the international coordinator of Vente Venezuela; Humberto Villalobos, an electoral expert; Claudia Macero, who is in charge of the party’s communications; and a sixth unnamed person who requested anonymity due to security concerns.

Gonzalez Moreno stated that those sheltering in the embassy have already begun seeking political asylum in Argentina; however, even if successful, their transport would be improbable as Argentine aircraft are barred from entering Venezuelan airspace.

Further Political Repression in Venezuela:

The siege comes amid further efforts by the Venezuelan government to crackdown on President Nicolas Maduro’s political opposition, with the largest coalition, the Unitary Democratic Platform, being heavily targeted.

Last Thursday, the government issued arrest warrants against over 30 members of the political opposition and civil rights leaders whom they claim to have been involved in an assassination plot against President Maduro, a common tactic by Maduro’s government to silence the political opposition and drum up support for the acting President.


Venezuelan President, Nicolas Maduro. (Photo – Federico Parra/AFP)

On Tuesday, the Unitary Democratic Platform’s candidate, Corina Yoris, was barred from registering for the presidential election, a barring that the coalition claims to be the fault of the government.

Yoris was nominated as the coalition’s candidate 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.


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

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.”

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.


Security forces at the entrance of El Helicoide, the headquarters of the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (SEBIN), in Caracas, on May 17, 2018, where Venezuelan opponents alongside a US citizen seized control of the detention center (Photo by Juan Barreto/AFP)

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.

Analysis:

The siege illustrates Maduro’s ongoing war against political opposition within the country, a war that has been waged since Maduro originally rose to power following the death of Hugo Chavez in 2013.

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


President Nicolas Maduro pictured next to a portrait of Hugo Chavez who acted as President of Venezuela from 1999 to his death in 2013. (Photo – Reuters/Jorge Silva)

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.

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