Republican congresswoman and chair of the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee, María Elvira Salazar, presented a bipartisan bill with Democratic representative, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, to protect the Venezuelan presidential elections and sanction officials who try to prevent the participation of opposition candidates.
The Republican congresswoman explained through a press release that, the "Venezuelans Overcoming Interference and Corruption in Elections Act", or VOICE Act, is a new legislative proposal that seeks to hold officials of the Nicolás Maduro regime responsible for trying to prohibit important opposition leaders from running for president, such as: María Corina Machado, Henrique Capriles and Freddy Superlano.
“In the face of renewed regime tactics to eliminate political opposition and steal the 2024 elections, the United States must support María Corina Machado and all those who are risking their lives to face the dictatorship. The VOICE Act restores the focus on Venezuela so that the dictator Maduro and his band of criminals can’t keep getting away with the looting and destruction of the country,” Salazar indicated.
🚨 I just introduced the VOICE Act to protect the Venezuelan primary elections and @MariaCorinaYA’s candidacy from the Maduro regime’s attacks!
The US government needs to do everything within its power to protect María Corina.
Read more here 👇🏼https://t.co/8GGGW2WXaA
— Rep. María Elvira Salazar (@RepMariaSalazar) September 21, 2023
The statement highlights that the legislation would not only give the United States the opportunity to demonstrate its position against the injustices of the regime but would also help support the Venezuelan elections by blocking assets and visas to anyone who becomes involved in efforts to prohibit the participation of opposition candidates in the early presidential elections.
The project also seeks to provide assistance to ensure the integrity and security of voter information and to send observers who can document attempts to suppress opposition votes.
Salazar and Schultz propose appointing a special delegate to the Latin American country “to coordinate policy initiatives, oversee political negotiations, and assist with consular issues for Venezuelan Americans and Venezuelan migrants and refugees in third countries," as well as generating "a report on promoting independent news and countering malign foreign influence in Venezuela".
The regime “suffocates” the opposition
The legislative project was delivered just a few days after the United Nations published a report warning that the dictatorial regime of Nicolás Maduro "has recently intensified its efforts to reduce civic and democratic space, restricting freedoms."
The UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission explained that the State constantly uses threats, surveillance, harassment, defamation and censorship as ways to "silence, discourage and suffocate" the opposition.
“The lack of independence, and also the deliberate actions of judicial and constitutional institutions, such as the Comptroller's Office and the Electoral Council, restrict the movements of social leaders and political leaders. The whole dynamic suffocates and suppresses debate and political life,” the report indicates.
Los ataques al espacio cívico y democrático en #Venezuela se están intensificado a través de políticas estatales que buscan silenciar la oposición o crítica al Gobierno dice una Misión de la ONU en su último informe presentado hoy.https://t.co/aSuQlpuyKt
— Noticias ONU (@NoticiasONU) September 20, 2023