President Joe Biden has gone to great lengths to ensure he wins another term in the White House. Americans may worry that the authoritarian power grab associated with the Biden regime is exclusively a United States problem, but he takes his cues from the dictator playbook.
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro is comfortable with his power and has taken steps to ensure that he will remain in command of his crumbling country for the near future. He has issued arrest warrants for those who defend citizen rights, has ensnared his political adversaries in endless legal battles, discredited his challengers, and blocked a rival from the ballot.
Venezuela’s highest court recently blocked presidential challenger Maria Corina Machado from the ballot for no less than 15 years. In October, Machado, a former lawmaker, clinched the opposition’s independent presidential primary with over 90% of the votes. However, the court dismissed her victory and upheld the ban, citing fraud, tax violations, and allegations of soliciting U.S.-imposed economic sanctions.
Last year, an agreement between Maduro’s administration and the U.S.-backed opposition aimed to facilitate fairer elections in Venezuela. Both factions committed to acknowledging and honoring a party’s ability to select a candidate without constraints, to reverse governmental actions preventing politicians from seeking office, and to welcome international electoral monitors.
Initially, Maduro and the opposition agreed to address electoral conditions. However, the discussions ceased in February 2018 when the government refused to commit to fair conditions, and opposition factions declined to acknowledge a parallel congress established by the ruling party. This move came after the ruling party lost the majority in the National Assembly during the 2015 election.
Following this, the government set the election for May 20, prompting parties to boycott the contest. Prominent leaders were disqualified from office or compelled into exile as authorities initiated judicial proceedings against them in the wake of a protest movement seeking Maduro’s ouster.
Maduro won in what the international community widely regards as a fraudulent election.
Over the past three months, Maduro has repeatedly pushed the boundaries of the electoral process agreement. His actions have included discrediting the opposition’s presidential primary, jailing political opponents, and consistently labeling opposition members as “hate-spewing criminals.”
His challenger, Machado, was well ahead of Maduro in the primary. Opposition adversaries and allies were surprised by the participation of over 2.4 million voters. They had anticipated only about a million people would cast ballots due to organizational challenges and government obstacles.
Maduro immediately went back on the fair elections agreement, which specified that governmental actions preventing politicians from seeking office would be reversed. He banned the winner from the ballot.
In December, Machado filed a claim with Venezuela’s Maduro-backed Supreme Tribunal of Justice, contending that the June ban was invalid and seeking an injunction to safeguard her political rights. However, the court upheld the ban despite her earning 90% of the vote.
Geoff Ramsey, senior analyst on Venezuela at the Atlantic Council, suggested that the opposition should think of alternatives to Machado, as Chavismo, a political movement initiated by Maduro’s mentor and predecessor, the late Hugo Chávez, would never permit her candidacy. “If Chavismo were to imagine its sworn enemy, they would see María Corina’s face,” he remarked. “She epitomizes everything that Chavismo opposes.”
Similarly, the National Electoral Council is dominated by Chavistas. Elvis Amoroso, the current head of the electoral council, is the same individual who endorsed Machado’s administrative ban last year while serving as the country’s comptroller.
In the meantime, Attorney General Tarek William Saab launched criminal probes against the primary election organizers and later issued warrants to arrest three of Machado’s campaign team members. Roberto Abdul, a longtime ally of Machado who helped her establish a pro-democracy organization more than twenty years ago, was also detained after the primary.
Following a notable prisoner exchange between the U.S. and Venezuela, Abdul was freed, and the three staffers were allowed to depart the foreign embassy where they had sought sanctuary. However, three additional staffers were recently arrested concerning what Maduro claims were unsuccessful “attempts to assassinate the president.” It doesn’t take a conspiracy theorist to connect these “assassination attempts” to the Biden administration’s attempts to categorize January 6 as an insurrection and destroy anyone who was “responsible” for it.
It’s easy to see the parallels between the Venezuelan “democratically elected” dictator’s attempts to hold power and Biden’s current re-election strategy. It’s a scene played out in elections worldwide and should serve as a condemnation of those who use their power to stay in power. While it’s unclear who wrote the playbook, it’s clear that Biden has memorized it almost word for word.