Venezuelan lawmakers OK opposition members to election board

Photo: Ariana Cubillos – AP Photo

 

Venezuela’s National Assembly named two opposition stalwarts, including a formerly jailed activist, as election officials Tuesday, the latest move by President Nicolás Maduro to seek improved relations with the Biden administration.

By AP News – Regina García Cano, Jorge Rueda and Joshua Goodman

May 4, 2021

It is the first time since 2005 that the Venezuelan opposition will have two seats on the five-person National Electoral Council, which oversees elections in the South American country. Critics have said the body was stacked with government allies who functioned as a tool of Maduro’s socialist administration.

The breakthrough agreement was hatched during weeks of behind-the-scenes negotiations between representatives of the Maduro government and moderate opponents, some of them aligned with former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles.

One of the new council members is former lawmaker Enrique Márquez, who was briefly vice president of the National Assembly when it was controlled by the opposition in 2016-2020. The other is longtime strategist Roberto Picón, who was jailed for six months in 2017 for organizing a symbolic, parallel vote when the opposition boycotted Maduro’s referendum to name a rubber-stamp constitutional assembly to bypass the National Assembly.

Maduro’s allies overwhelmingly regained control of the National Assembly in elections last year that were boycotted by the opposition, which the U.S., European Union and other countries in the region considered fraudulent.

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