HomeEuropeEurope on collision course with US over Venezuela election

Europe on collision course with US over Venezuela election

The vote comes after three particularly chaotic years in a country where President Nicolas Maduro has managed to remain in power despite crumbling economy, a contested election result in 2018 and a US-backed effort to remove him from power through coordinated Western sanctions – which included the European Union.

However, earlier this year, the faction dropped its recognition of Maduro’s rival Juan Guaidó as the legitimate president, putting it at odds with the US, which still recognizes Guaidó.

In some corners of the US, this has raised concerns that by sending a delegation to the country for the first time since 2006, the EU would legitimize a process that would eventually be won by Maduro, a strong leader often described as a dictator. is done. .

Andres Oppenheimer wrote In the Miami Herald last week for 16 years, “the European Union has refused to send an election observation mission to Venezuela, mainly because it believed the election was a sham.”

He concluded that on election night, “the EU mission would probably announce that there were no major irregularities, and an enthusiastic Maduro would claim that he won a clean election. And several months later, when the EU mission would look at its final report.” Having gone through the entire election process and concluding that it was not a fair race, the election will be long forgotten.”

Diplomatic sources have confirmed to CNN that it is not just a columnist’s fears, but very real concerns that Maduro, whatever the EU’s intentions, will be able to spin it to legitimize his hold on power.

Why would the EU be willing to do this and risk the displeasure of its most important ally?

First, sources in Brussels refute the idea that it would give the elections a de facto EU seal of approval. He says his agreement rests on the fact that a delegation was invited by Venezuela’s National Electoral Council. An EU official said that Brussels had then sent a mission to see if the elections could be monitored “in accordance with 2005 UN guidelines”, pointing out that the bloc had taken the country last year. The elections were not recognized. “We go there not to legitimize the regime, but to see what’s going on.”

Second, the official says that “there is no difference in how we monitor Iraq, Peru, Pakistan or Mali. It is one of the most recognized election monitors in the world and if our peers ask us, we Will explain our reasoning. We don’t need to justify ourselves to anyone.”

It is certainly true that electoral watchdog groups often operate and report on elections that are far from free or fair. For example, in 2017, the European Office for Democratic Institutions and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Human Rights, a highly respected organization, delivered a scathing report on the Turkish independence referendum.

However, critics may argue that the context here is different. Turkey is a NATO ally whose democratic standards have been slipping for years. It was a document of that fall—one that enraged President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

What is different is the relative isolation of Venezuela from the West. It is arguable that even if the EU returns a highly important report, its involvement in the process could be used as propaganda by Maduro.

A State Department spokesman told CNN that the US “deems free and fair local, National Assembly and presidential elections necessary so that the Venezuelan people can reach a peaceful and democratic solution to the crises facing their country. In statements jointly made with the US on 25 and 14 August, the EU and Canada clarified that they share our views … Send it to the union officials.”

Such tensions between Brussels and Washington are in part inevitable as the EU seeks to exert its influence as a distinctly global power and defender of Western values, rather than an expansion of American influence.

However, the bloc must remember that every time it deviates from US policy – ​​whether it be on China, Russia or Venezuela – it will be seen by the leadership of the nation that still tops the world stage.

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