Saturday

31st Oct 2020

EU denies 'clandestine' mission on Venezuela election date

  • Last week, EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell sent two diplomats to Caracas to discuss the possibility of postponing the December election for a few months (Photo: Josep Borrell Fontelles)

The European Union last week sent a diplomatic mission to Caracas to discuss with the Venezuelan regime and opposition leaders guaranteeing that "minimum democratic conditions" are in place for the parliamentary elections, due to take place in early December.

Besides the hyperinflation of the country, the humanitarian crisis, and the health emergency caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, there is a deepening political instability in Venezuela.

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Since the fraudulent re-election of Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro in 2018, the majority of EU countries and MEPs in the European Parliament have recognised the leader of the main opposition, Juan Guaidó, as the country's legitimate head of state - only Cyprus and Italy do not recognise him.

Following reports in the Spanish media that EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell was sending diplomats to Venezuela in a "clandestine mission," the European People's Party said it was "alarmed" that such a move would weaken the political position of the EU towards the Venezuelan regime.

"It is as unthinkable as it would be currently unthinkable to send an EU mission to talk to the Lukashenko regime behind the back of the Belarusian opposition. That is exactly what this decision is doing at the moment with the Venezuelan democrats," the EPP said in a letter sent to Borrell on Thursday (24 September).

"Your mission gives the impression that for the EU, the legitimate interlocutor of the EU in Venezuela is the Maduro regime," it adds.

However, the European Commission clarified on Friday (25 September) that the EU mission to Caracas was not clandestine - since all 27 member states were informed before the EU officials left.

This mission follows previous efforts of the European Union to promote political and economic solutions that could lead to free, transparent and credible presidential and legislative elections.

The deputy secretary-general of the European External Action Service (EEAS), Enrique Mora, and the deputy director-general for America, Javier Niño, will be in Venezuela until Monday.

"These officials will be meeting all the various interlocutors, all political forces, civil society, the private sector and the church," a comission spokesperson said on Friday.

One of the main topics on the table is the possibility of postponing the elections for a few months since this would give time for the EU to send international observers to Venezuela.

"At the moment the conditions are not met [for the EU to observe the Venezuelan parliamentary elections], but we still believe that there is a window of opportunity," said Borrell after the foreign affairs council last week.

However, Maduro has previously said that it would be "impossible" to delay the vote.

Venezuela's opposition parties pledged this summer to boycott the December election, citing democratic irregularities. A similar move took place ahead of the presidential elections in 2018.

Earlier this month, UN investigators accused Maduro's regime of crimes against humanity in a report, citing systematic violence, killing, torture, sexual violence and arbitrary detentions.

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