Four US senators confirm that Maduro is “afraid” to face María Corina Machado in a “real democratic” process.

(CNN Spanish) — Venezuela's presidential election will be held on July 28, the National Electoral Council announced Wednesday. As the news broke, a bipartisan group of four US senators issued a joint statement asserting that Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro is “afraid” to face María Corina Machado in a “true democratic” process.

In the report, Republican Senators Marco Rubio and Bill Cassidy and Democrats Dick Durbin and Ben Cardin recalled that the Venezuelan government has “arbitrarily arrested members of Machado's campaign team and continues to censor the independent press.” And the report notes that Venezuela “arbitrarily decides whether someone can run or not,” referring to a Supreme Court ruling that disqualified the opposition leader's candidacy at the end of January.

“Venezuela's institutions are currently incapable – by design – of holding free, fair and democratic elections,” the text of the report points out. “María Corina Machado, whom the majority of voters chose as their candidate in Venezuela's primaries, is currently barred from running for president for the simple reason that she is afraid to face Maduro in a true democratic process. “He knows that the Venezuelan people voted for him overwhelmingly in their collective struggle for a life free of tyranny.”

In a joint statement, the senators urged the United States to re-impose economic sanctions against the government if it does not include Machado in the electoral process, as they do not consider him withdrawing from the Barbados accord reached in October. The agreement between the Venezuelan government and opposition representatives, brokered by Norway, includes political and electoral guarantees for presidential elections.

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“Under the Barbados agreement, the United States must reimpose oil embargoes and refuse to recognize any electoral 'winner' of a process that excludes María Corina Machado, the opposition candidate democratically elected by the Venezuelan people,” the statement said.

After the Barbados Agreement was signed in October, the United States eased some sanctions on the Venezuelan government under the understanding that it would respect agreements that allow for a democratic process in the country, one of which is General License 44, which affects Venezuelan oil sector.

However, following Machado's disqualification in January, the US government announced that General License 44 would not be extended beyond April due to actions by the Venezuelan government.

“The actions of Nicolás Maduro and his representatives in Venezuela, including arresting members of the opposition and banning them from running in this year's presidential election, are inconsistent with agreements signed in Barbados,” the State Department said. Report obtained by CNN.

CNN emailed the State Department on Thursday to find out if its position on sanctions had changed since the election announcement, but so far there has been no response.

CNN has reached out to the Venezuelan Ministry of Foreign Affairs for a joint statement from US senators and the Public Ministry.

Esmond Harmon

"Entrepreneur. Social media advocate. Amateur travel guru. Freelance introvert. Thinker."

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