Elections Series – The Future of Venezuela Post-Opposition Primaries

Panelists photo Venezuela Primaries event Featured photo: Derek Brumby / iStock / Getty Images

The Venezuelan opposition primaries saw a remarkable turnout, with over 2.3 million voters, resulting in María Corina Machado's victory despite her disqualification by the regime. The Barbados Agreement and the lifting of US sanctions offer a potential breakthrough for establishing some electoral conditions. However, a transition of power cannot occur without a clear and coherent path forward beyond election day.

At the November 2, 2023, event hosted by the Dialogue’s Rule of Law Program, Maria Corina Machado, Founder and National Coordinator of the Opposition Party VENTE, made her first public appearance after the primaries. She described the primaries as a reflection of Venezuelans resilience, stressing the need for continued efforts to implement the Barbados Agreement despite the regime attacks to the primaries’ organizers, which she regarded as a "huge mistake."

On the significant turnout at the primaries, Paola Bautista de Alemán, National Vice President of Political Education and Programs of Primero Justicia, underlined “the regime’s miscalculation,” and emphasized the need to build trust among political actors. Recent polls show growing support for Machado and a desire for unity among voters, noted Mark Feierstein, Senior Advisor for the Latin America Program at USIP and the Albright Stonebridge Group.

Following the regime attacks on the organizers of the primaries, doubts arose regarding the implementation of the Barbados Agreement. Despite the recent attacks, Claudia Nikken, Executive Secretary of the Delegation of the Unitary Platform of Venezuela, highlighted the importance of giving the agreement a chance to succeed, while also protecting the effects of the primaries.

Beyond the election day, a successful transition requires addressing the humanitarian and human rights situation in the country alongside institutional reconstruction, said Laura Dib, Venezuela Program Director at WOLA. Additionally, "it is essential to think outside the box and beyond electoral conditions to facilitate a political transition in Venezuela to happen, which includes how to leverage international accountability," as Tamara Taraciuk Broner, Dialogue’s Rule of Law Program Director, underscored.

Watch the event recording here

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