Venezuela's President Nicolás Maduro wins nomination for upcoming national election; Looking for a third time

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Saturday became his party's official candidate for July's much-anticipated presidential election, allowing him to cruise to a third consecutive term with no real contest on the horizon.

Not unusual for Venezuela, Maduro's main opponent, María Corina Machado – who won an opposition coalition primary with more than 90% of the vote – has been embroiled in electoral controversy since Venezuelan authorities disqualified her from holding public office for 15 years.

FILE – In this Jan. 22, 2021 file photo, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro speaks during a ceremony marking the start of the judicial year at the Supreme Court in Caracas, Venezuela.

AP Photo/Mathias Delacroix, File)

Maduro accepted the nomination as the ruling United Socialist Party's candidate for the July 28 presidential election during a party meeting in Caracas, saying he “has the support of the people.” According to the party, its decision was confirmed by more than four million members who voted for their candidate last week.

“One man will not be here alone. I am here for the people,” Maduro said. “Here, the candidate is not Maduro, here, the candidate is the people.”

Maduro, the hand-picked successor to President Hugo Chávez, rose to power in March 2013 following Chávez's death, his homespun charm earning him the affection and votes of millions. A second term would see Maduro head Venezuela's government until 2031.

Under his rule, Venezuela has plunged into a deep economic crisis, only deepened by US sanctions. The crisis has displaced millions Immigrate from a South American countryMany are now heading to America.

The U.S. government last year lifted some sanctions on Venezuela's oil, gas and mining sectors after Maduro agreed with the opposition to allow elections to level the playing field.

But the Biden administration ended up with some relief after Venezuela's high court upheld the ban on Machado. It has also threatened to withdraw additional relief if the Maduro government continues to violate the agreement.

The deadline to register candidates is March 25, but so far Machado has said he will continue “until the end,” although he has not made clear how he will avoid the ban on incumbency.

In recent days, the opposition coalition has questioned the election process and called for “respect for the law”.

Two-time presidential candidate Henrique Gabrieles and other opposition figures who refused to run before the primaries have also been disqualified.

Capriles is among a growing number of government opponents and foreign leaders urging Machado to step aside to allow voters to rally behind an alternative. As Machado pushed forward, he urged her to “feel real” this week.

“They believe this is one more election, one more election fight, where they can drive us away or cheat us, and we're going to keep quiet, keep our heads down. They don't understand,” Machado told supporters. Many rallies.

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