The decision of a sector of the Venezuelan opposition, concentrated in the Unitary Platform, to call for primary elections to select the opposition’s candidate to run in the upcoming presidential elections has reintroduced some political figures who had lost the presidential race in previous years.
María Corina Machado is one of those politicians. A veteran of the opposition and aligned with the alt-right ideology en vogue in the United States and Europe, she is currently emerging as a presidential candidate for her party Vente Venezuela.
Machado, former president of the civil society association Súmate financed by US agencies, participated in 2021 in the EuroLat summit, organized by the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) bloc of the European Parliament, which currently consists of 61 members of conservative, Euroskeptic, and anti-federalist ideology. The event was organized to fight against "the threat of communism and to confront the São Paulo Forum." Its participants, such as Giorgia Meloni (Italy), José Antonio Kast (Chile), and Santiago Abascal (Spain) hold extreme right-wing positions.
Machado was one of the first opposition politicians to announce her participation in the primaries. She has also been the protagonist of smear campaigns accusing President Nicolás Maduro’s government of "interfering" in the organization of the primaries due to the Unitary Platform requesting that the National Electoral Council (CNE) provide technical and logistical support for the opposition primaries.
Some opinion polls and data surveys place María Corina Machado at the top of the list of opposition candidates, which has given her some visibility over other candidates in the privately-owned media.
In light of the "discouraging panorama of the Venezuelan opposition," as she herself describes it, Machado is presented by some media as a political personality with "intrinsic leadership qualities" and a "recognized trajectory" in Venezuelan politics. These two descriptions fit perfectly in regards to her role in the promotion of the US blockade against Venezuela and her connection with a part of the US establishment, especially with Republican politicians in Florida.
María Corina Machado’s connections with the Republican Party date back almost two decades, when, in 2002, she was received in Washington DC by the then president of the United States, George W. Bush, with whom she had a meeting at the White House.
The Republican link has become more explicit since the United States launched the political strategy of economic and financial aggression against Venezuela through illegal sanctions, which was followed by an international campaign that tried to present the situation in Venezuela as a "humanitarian emergency" to justify different mechanisms of foreign interference.
María Corina Machado acted as the ideological and political vanguard of the initiatives that Republican Senator Marco Rubio and associated personalities were carrying out, such as the sanctions and other "humanitarian intervention" agendas.
Thank you Senator @marcorubio for your unconditional commitment to freedom in Venezuela. These young men and women represent the dignity and courage of the Venezuelan people who stand up to this unscrupulous regime’s lies and repression. The world must stand with them too. https://t.co/CAaW0mIO7f
— María Corina Machado (@MariaCorinaYA) May 18, 2018
Since the end of the Obama administration and throughout Donald Trump’s presidential term, Rubio was one of the main proponents of the encirclement and siege of Venezuela, using his position as a US senator sponsored by corporate contributors from fossil fuels and mining sectors. His anti-Venezuela activities have continued throughout the Biden administration. Although he has mostly been focusing on Venezuela, he has also pursued similar agendas to destabilize Venezuela’s allies such as Cuba and Bolivia.
Marco Rubio is not only accused of political interference abroad by Venezuela, Cuba and Bolivia. There have been equally scandalous and controversial accusations against him for influence peddling and criminal favors linked to drug trafficking.
The US agenda with which Machado is affiliated
María Corina Machado’s relations with the Republican Party extend to other important personalities in the blockade effort against Venezuela; for example, Republican Senator Rick Scott, also from Florida, and former governor of that state. On several occasions, Machado has publicly encouraged Scott’s statements that criminalize—without evidence—President Nicolás Maduro as an actor of international terrorism.
Scott and Rubio share the responsibility of sponsoring the BOLIVAR Act, designed in 2021 to give the US Congress the power to continue illegal sanctions against Venezuela, even overriding decisions of the US president. The act has bipartisan support and was designed as a mechanism to inhibit decisions on Venezuela from the US executive branch.
As governor of Florida, Rick Scott set a precedent for the BOLIVAR Act. In 2019, he sponsored the Venezuelan Contracting Restriction Act, a law with similar characteristics that reached the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs (current US Vice President Kamala Harris was on that committee), but it did not pass to a vote in the plenary.
By then, Scott was joined in his anti-Venezuela endeavors by Rubio and Republican Congressman Michael Waltz. The latter was in charge, two years later, of introducing to the US Congress the bill titled "Banning Operations and Leases with the Illegitimate Venezuelan Authoritarian Regime," known by its English acronym: the BOLIVAR Act. The resumes of Scott and Waltz, main sponsors of this act, are marked by fraudulent activities related to the anti-Venezuela lobby.
Misión Verdad has previously commented that the BOLIVAR Act is intended to fortify the blockade against Venezuela, prohibiting US government agencies from entering into contracts with any company that has commercial operations with the Venezuelan State led by President Nicolás Maduro. This includes the acquisition, development, maintenance, possession, sale, lease, or operation of equipment, facilities, personnel, products, services, personal property, real estate, or any other business or trade apparatus.
The document adds exceptions, some of which have striking implications for Venezuela. The BOLIVAR Act does not block "humanitarian aid," a clause referring to the efforts of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to financially and logistically support destabilization efforts or support opposition parties via NGOs, nor does it block "operations that are in the national security interest of the United States," which could mean any activity aimed at regime change in Venezuela (such as the failed Operation Gideon in 2020). It also grants exceptions for "any business with the legitimately elected government of the National Assembly and its elected successors," meaning the so-called “Delegate Commission” that succeeded the fake "interim government" of Juan Guaidó.
On December 16, 2022, the bill was passed by the Senate; however, it did not get approval in the House of Representatives. On February 2, 2023, Senators Scott, Rubio, Jacky Rosen, and Thom Tillis (mostly Republican, but with Democratic representation) reintroduced the bill before the new Senate elected in the mid-terms at the end of 2022.
Behind the promotion of the BOLIVAR Act is the intention to sabotage some measures that could benefit Venezuela through relief from unilateral sanctions, such as the license granted to Chevron by the US Treasury Department to resume its operations in Venezuela, or, more recently, the authorization to Trinidad and Tobago to resume a gas project in Venezuelan waters.
The global energy crisis, caused by the coercive "sanctions" imposed by the United States against Russia, has influenced the concessions made by the White House. However, the White House has to manage the reactions to these concessions made by the anti-Venezuela lobby in Florida, involving "Venezuelan diaspora," which is pushing for the continuation of the blockade against Venezuela and has rejected diplomatic rapprochement between the Biden administration and the government of President Maduro.
María Corina Machado is in complete harmony with these groups. In response to the imminent death of the "maximum pressure" strategy, she has raised her voice to ask the US government to reinforce the blockade against Venezuela and has repudiated the partial agreement signed by the representatives of the government and the Unitary Platform at the Mexico talks.
With such precedents, it is impossible to associate the image of María Corina Machado with that of a supposed positive change for Venezuela, an image she intends to present by claiming the status of an "outsider," even though historically she has positioned herself as a political figure of the opposition establishment. The actors and influences that she promotes on Venezuelan soil come from outside the borders of the country and respond to political agendas in Florida and Washington DC.
Translated by Orinoco Tribune.