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  • Nate Thurston

Maduro Regime Annuls Primary Election Result in Venezuela

In breaking international news, the Maduro regime just annulled the primary elections in Venezuela. This would go against the deal between the Biden Administration and the regime for a more democratic country in exchange for sanctions relief. Erik Suarez is from Venezuela and has written extensively on the region's politics.


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Nate Thurston: [00:00:00] I am joined by Mr. Eric Suarez, who is a contributor for Young Voices. Eric, how you doing today?

Erik Suarez: Great, uh, great weather here in Florida and Miami.

Uh, good day very happy to be here again with you, Nate. It's

Nate Thurston: been, uh, I guess two weeks since we spoke last, I believe. And we, we talked a little bit about sanctions in Venezuela and talked to, uh, some about AOC. now we're having you back to talk about another thing going on in Venezuela, which is their elections.

you can fill us all in on this, but we have made a deal with them that we could ease up sanctions if they would agree to have free and fair. elections, I believe. But what's what's going on today? Are they holding up their end of the bargain?

Erik Suarez: Uh, no. And that was just very obvious that this was gonna be the end result.

Venezuela's elections or primary elections, if you want to be more, um, accurate, uh, have been a complete sham. And, um, I want to say this is not necessarily the fact that It was rigged or something [00:01:00] like that. But the fact that after the results came out, the, let's say the Supreme Court, let's call it like that came in and just annulled everything just by saying that it wasn't fair and quoting some illicit activities.

But the reality is that this was never about to happen. The winner of the election, this primary elections was, uh. Maria Corina Machado, who has been a politician that has shown, um, a lot of opposition more than other candidates and that got her chance to run. And, um, well, you know, when, when you run in a dictatorship, an election, you are going to get what you always get, you're going to get repression, you're going to get tyranny and you're going to end up, um, in the position that Venezuela is.

Nate Thurston: And before we get into the actual primary election itself, and some about, uh, Ms. Machado, uh, I wanted to ask, what was the deal, supposed deal, that was made with the Biden administration? Is [00:02:00] it, does it have to do with oil sanctions, all the sanctions in general, and then they agree to have fair elections?

Is that the gist of it?

Erik Suarez: It's, yeah, it's basically the gist of it. So the, the, the negotiations have been... happening for a while. Even from the start of the year, we have been seeing a lot of reducing sanctions and making deals with the Venezuelan regime. Back in in January, the U. S. Still recognized the government off Juan Guaido, who was the interim president of Venezuela constitutionally.

Uh, let's say talking. Uh, but even in that time, recognizing that government, Biden still was making deals and working with the regime to the point that now we're here almost in November. And we're seeing that all of these deals and things that he has been working on have completely failed. And it was I just I think it's very naive from this [00:03:00] administration to think that any kind of deal.

would hold. And to answer your question, it was, there have been different kinds of deals, uh, but all of them have involved reducing sanctions on the oil sector. So at the beginning, it was Sorry. It was about releasing, uh, hostages that Venezuela had US citizens in Vene, in Venezuela, uh, in exchange of reducing all sanctions and entering the negotiating table with the opposition in Venezuela.

The other, uh, and another, and another case, it was for the release of Maduro's cousins who were, uh, held in the US uh, under drug trafficking charges and condemned. Um, and that was another deal that happened throughout the year. Um, and, well, if you want to summarize them, yes, all of them have involved, uh, this unspoken, let's call it like that, uh, part where Venezuela was supposed to hold democratic [00:04:00] and allow democratic and fair elections in exchange of reducing.

Sanctions from the U. S. In the end of the day that failed miserably, and it's very it's very I wouldn't say sad. I would say it's very it's very angering for many Venezuelans who have who saw this coming, who have seen appeasement failed towards Venezuela and who knows that a dictator is not going to get out used, especially a dictator as brutal and cruel and who has committed so many human rights violations as Maduro would leave under these circumstances.

It's completely mind blowing that the US, which sometimes we see us as one of the leaders, one of the most, um, you know, a country would experience in these kind of situations. fall short to this degree. I was thinking

Nate Thurston: from our last conversation about the sanctions that Maduro, I'm sure, is able to convince some people that the U.

S. Sanctions have been part [00:05:00] of the reason for the downfall of Venezuela's economy. And of course, it helps that there are prominent politicians that will parrot that idea like AOC, which we talked about last time that the sanctions have caused this and that can actually help. And what I was thinking is that can actually help Maduro stay in power because if the sanctions being released is the reason, is why he's going to allow the elections.

Well, if being able to blame the sanctions on the downfall of the economy, uh, can help him, then he actually has a bit of an incentive. To, uh, keep some of those sanctions because it can take some of the blame off of him, right? I mean, there's kind of some perverse incentives here. Well,

Erik Suarez: you could let me think about that because I never really followed that line of thought, but I believe that the real, there is some interest from the Maduro regime to remove the sanctions based on the fact that, um, the oil industry in Venezuela has always been the main [00:06:00] source of income for them, for the dictatorship.

Uh, so. Uh, even though they have learned to get other sources to, you know, jump over the sanctions and things like that, it is still one of the main objectives of the Maduro regime to recover that revenue, to recover that, um, oil revenue, uh, which is used not only for their, you know, their own crooked, uh, for themselves, but for themselves.

Uh, it's also used, used for, uh, getting guns from Russia, getting military weaponry from Russia, getting repression weaponry from other countries to fund deals with Iran to, for many different reasons, it is very important for the Maduro regime to remove those sanctions. And I think that, as you said, AOC, uh, the squad members in Washington, D.

C. have been, uh, great outlets. for letting that, uh, narrative get into the U. S. and start making changes. I [00:07:00] was telling you in the other article I wrote the last time, there was at least four letters sent to President Biden from this group of, of Democrat, uh, Congress people. That we're asking President Biden to remove sanctions and some of them are not, you wouldn't say are more the most radical or the most left of the Congress people, but they were also included in that letter because it has been already implanted that a big cost for Venezuelan collapse has been the sanctions, which is as we talked the other time the other day is completely false.

Nate Thurston: Now back to this, uh, election. I also find it interesting that we are, uh, starting to, you know, get some oil from Venezuela, easing some of those sanctions, and which can actually help The Venezuelan Maduro's regime, and we're doing that because we want to punish Putin's regime in Russia. So we're kind of choosing one regime over another, whichever one is, uh, the best politically, I guess, for the [00:08:00] administration, uh, deciding.

Erik Suarez: I'm sorry, I interrupted you. I would even say that we're not even choosing. It's the same, it's the same people, because at the end of the day, Venezuela is, it's, uh, let's say, It's an agent for Putin. It's an agent for the Ayatollah. It's an agent for Xi Jinping in Latin America, very close to the US. So when you sanction Russia, or you're trying to penalize Russia for oil, but then you still buy it from Venezuela, it's not making anything, there's no making any difference.

You're just, you're just, I don't know. It's just very, very naive for not using another word. Uh, foreign policy strategy. I

Nate Thurston: think they just rely on people Not realizing that of course as a politician your promises can be very shallow or hollow And and say that we're not going to help russia and we're going to get it elsewhere And but we're actually just still helping russia the at the same time But I guess it helps in in our elections politics really is a dirty [00:09:00] business.

Nate Thurston: that this uh this election, um I want to get it right that this was not an official government sanctioned election. They went through, I saw in a New York Times piece that they had what some people's houses were involved. They, they, uh, they did it, I don't know, kind of around the government.

Is that right?

Erik Suarez: Correct. And the reason for that is that, um, as you know, or, or as it will be obvious. Uh, and all government institutions, including the electoral institution, is controlled directly by the regime. So it has been constantly used for rigging elections, for, um, censoring people from, from missing ballots, for things of that nature.

So there's the opposition parties in the, in, in Venezuela already. Obviously don't trust the validity or an election [00:10:00] run by these institutions, which is called the CNN, the CNE or Al in Spanish, NA na, national Electoral Cen Center or something like that. So, yeah, and then, um, so they organize their own commission of the parties in the opposition.

to run and fund that, uh, their own election process. And that's how it's been running any electoral process in Venezuela for the last few years.

Nate Thurston: Now, um, Maria Machado, who I believe won 93 percent of the vote in this election, that's what I saw, even though there were 10 candidates, I believe, has promised to punish.

Uh, people in the regime for their human rights abuses. And do you think that has something to do with them attempting to ignore or nullify this, uh, this election?

Erik Suarez: No, I think, well, Margarita is a very interesting character throughout. [00:11:00] She, she's been in, in politics in Venezuela for a long time. She's a known, let's say, character.

Um, she has always been very strong warrior against the regime. In fact, the first memory I have from her when I was a kid was watching her In Congress, in Venezuelan Congress, stand up against Chavez and call him, uh, he, that he was Uh, a thief in front of national TV straight up on him like that. Um, so she's never been afraid of calling up people in government.

She's never been afraid of that. Um, there's other reasons that you could criticize her for, of course, but, uh, I don't think that calling up, uh, putting people in jail because of the of it was mainly because of the elections. There is a. There's some things that are across the board for any Venezuelan candidate.

And one of those things is holding the regime accountable for human rights violations. Uh, the violations committed from 2014 to 2021, [00:12:00] that there's a whole UN report, uh, very detailed about the things that happened in those protests. That is very, um, it's very difficult to read because of the atrocities that happened.

Um, and, and across the board in Venezuela, there is a, there is a call for, um, holding the regime and the leaders of, uh, of the regime accountable for that. Um, but yeah, I, I think that, uh, there's very, very interesting things to talk about this election specifically, because even though she got the 93 percent of percent that you said, it was one of the less.

least, uh, amount of people voting in a long time in an, in an opposition election in Venezuela. So that's also a very interesting thing that we can dig into because of what it means for legitimacy and also what it means for Maria Corina in the future, if she wants to be the leader of the opposition. I think [00:13:00] that's, that's very important to address too.

Nate Thurston: So, so what's gonna happen here? We can, uh, I guess there's supposed to be an election, uh, next year, a general election next year is, is there going to be, is Maduro going to allow that, uh, are they going to allow the other candidates, uh, to run against him and actually pay attention to the results of that election?

Like, what, what do you think is gonna happen here? No, of


Erik Suarez: not. , , this is the, the, and this is one of the, this is my main criticism with the opposition in Venezuela, is that they keep making the same mistake. I'm not learning from it. So we have seen this exact same process happen in 2013 when it was uh, Enrique Capriles, who was a candidate in this election as well, but he, uh, pulled out, uh, because he didn't have enough support, uh, where he ran against Maduro after Chavez's death.

Uh, he got robbed of that election and they just, they just addressed it as if it was just a democratic country that they just lost an election. Then the [00:14:00] same thing happened with Juan Guaido, where there was a, uh, the regime is always going to avoid giving away the power, of course. So it is very bizarre that after so many years and an opposition who, who knows how the regime works, who has been repressed by this regime, who knows the tricks and the, um, and everything that the regime is going to pull to not allow them to have a real election, a real chance keeps going down the electoral rabbit hole.

And that's my main issue with this opposition and with this whole process. In fact, I think it was from the beginning. Uh, a big waste of time and the only benefit that I saw from it was that before, uh, in Venezuela, there was a lack of leadership in the opposition and there was a need for legitimizing a main figure that will lead the country or the opposition in, in organizing and knowing [00:15:00] what to do, their strategy.

The only benefit that I see from this election is that, um, they gave legitimacy to Maria Corina Machado. To a degree because it was very, there wasn't enough, I wouldn't say enough, but there wasn't that many voters in this election. But overall, I think that it gave some legitimacy to Maria Corina Machado and I think that that's a positive thing.

But, again... And thinking that there's going to be a change to an electoral process in Venezuela is just falling back into Biden's, uh, foreign policy strategy. It's just very naive. I'm very

Nate Thurston: wrong. Well, so how is the change going to happen? Is there an answer short of a violent revolution or coup, or is that what it has to, what are you saying it needs to be?

Erik Suarez: Sadly, um, there, there's a lot of, a lot of things need to happen, honestly. And the first thing that needs to happen is that we cannot have president Biden in power by that time, [00:16:00] because when there's going to, if there's going to be a transition in Venezuela, or when there's going to be a transition in Venezuela, there's going to be many interests involved, not only.

of Venezuelan interest, but also Iranian interest, Chinese interest, Russian interest, Cuban interests. Uh, we have Hezbollah itself in Venezuela. We have many foreign interests of big major powers and major players on the international role. that, uh, have interest in Venezuela and with the current U. S. has shown to be very or extremely weak handling these kind of situations.

Any possibility of change? Isn't gonna be viable under Biden, under Biden administration, or somebody who believes, uh, in this appeasement po foreign policy like Obama or Biden. Uh, that's first. Uh, and then [00:17:00] definitely there needs to be an awakening of the population inside and we need to rep replicate similar things that we saw in 2017, massive protests.

Massive protests with the kind of leadership that doesn't back down. And that's the main fear of the Venezuelan opposition, I believe, in the past few years. Is that nobody wants to be the person that says we're not leaving the streets until this happens. And doesn't, uh, you know, you don't want to be the responsible if something like that has to happen.

And I think that's the last frontier that Venezuela needs. To pass before a real change is happening, to wake that up, to wake that feeling of we can do it ourselves up. And when we do it, there's going to be a strong power, pro democracy power backing us up from outside. And, you know, those things, it's like [00:18:00] lining up the planets.

You never know when that's going to happen, but you got to be ready when that happens. And right now we're not ready

Nate Thurston: for it. Well, you, uh, so I didn't expect the, uh, you know, coming down to Biden, not being in power. And I get that he, he's definitely weak and, uh, toothless when it comes to dealing with these, uh, other countries.

I think they just don't take them seriously. Uh, why would you? He's a dementia patient, uh, with a nice office at this time. And, uh, so did, did, uh, it's, it's gonna be Biden and Trump, it looks like, again, at this time, potentially. Did Trump do a better job with Venezuela?

Erik Suarez: Well, Trump was the one who originally, um, enabled the sanctions.

He was the one who provided some, well, not some, a very important outlet for Juan Guaidó at the time, uh, to have, uh, broad, uh, international recognition. He was the U. S. who led, uh, that process. It was, I would even say Trump was the one [00:19:00] who allowed Juan Guaidó. To be in the position that he was doing all that time.

Because if, if it was up to the regime, Juan Guaido would have been gone, but of that office of that position as soon as possible, but he lasted, I believe it was four years or three years. It was because of, uh, Trump's. Policies and more if, if something happens to see to him, there's going to be repercussions kind of deal.

And, you know, we Venezuelans remember all the times that Trump came out and he was like tempting us, he says, all the options are on the table, things like that. I think, you know, if you can be pro military intervention. Because there's a group that is, you can be against military intervention in Venezuela.

But if you're the regime and you hear that, you're not going to move until you know what's going on. And with Trump, you don't know what's going on. I think that will be my only criticism. With Trump, you don't know what's going to happen. He may be one day just be, okay, we're going to impose really hard sanctions and that's it.

And the other [00:20:00] day, well, all the options are on the table and move some of the Southern command to the, and to make exercise in the Caribbean right next to Venezuela. So you, so that's, that was a positive with Trump. He will definitely be more. Strong than Biden, in that sense, if it comes down to those two.

So, um, yes. And I will say that the big problem back in the day when Trump was there, we had the biggest chance of leaving the regime, um, a few years ago. This is actually a very sad story when there was, um, Mike Pence went to Columbia. Because they were trying to send, um, goods, uh, to, to Venezuela to help the, the current crisis and the things like that.

And the Venezuelan regime literally just burned down the trucks that were delivering those goods to their own people with the presidents of Colombia, of Brazil, of... Well, my vice president, Mike Pence, and a lot of people literally a few meters away from [00:21:00] that, that could have started a conflict. I even believe that was, that was meant to start a conflict, was like a little to cause a casus belli right there.

But, um, it didn't happen. And I blame. Venezuelan leadership for that not to happen. Hopefully in the future we have stronger leadership. I don't know about Maria Corina if she will be the person. I honestly have my reservations with her for other, other reasons, especially because she changes her, um, her message a lot and she has changed her message a lot in the last few years, but we'll, we have to see, but definitely the first step has to be a strong us that can back us up.

Nate Thurston: Well, I hope for the sake of everyone who's in Venezuela right now, I hope for their sake we get that figured out and they actually get to some, some free and fair elections. But, uh, Eric, thank you so much for your time. Can you tell everyone where they can go to follow more of your

Erik Suarez: [00:22:00] work? Yes, you can come to my social media, Instagram and Twitter or X, however you want to call it.

Both are at Eric Suarez and, um, Eric only with a K, sometimes people put CK or just see Eric, E R I K Suarez and. All

Nate Thurston: right, I'll put a link to everything in the show notes for anyone who has a problem with spelling. Uh, but Eric, once again, thank you so much for your time today. I enjoyed it as always, and we'd love to have you back again.


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