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Venezuela’s Urgent Political Transition

In response to Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro's brazen attempts to hold onto power indefinitely, the international community has moved to isolate the country, while imposing increasingly broad and stringent sanctions. But more must be done to secure a peaceful transition to legitimate democratic rule.

CARACAS – Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and his administration have ruined their country. While they claim to be redeemers of the poor and trumpet their readiness to fight for their “selfless” Bolivarian cause, they refuse international assistance, forcing Venezuelans either to emigrate or suffer (and, in many cases, die) from severe shortages of food, medicines, and medical supplies.

The destruction of Venezuela must be stopped urgently if its viability as a state and a society is to be reestablished. That requires a new government of unquestionable legitimacy, chosen through a free and fair presidential election before the end of this year, as dictated by the constitution. To be sure, Maduro and his associates will not simply step down, as losing power would likely mean long prison terms in the United States for drug trafficking or in The Hague for crimes against humanity. Such charges have been substantiated by US prosecutors, the Organization of American States (OAS) and its independent experts, and by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

In fact, the regime has recently become even more defiant and aggressive. It has cut short all “dialogues” to achieve peace in Venezuela, including in May, when – amid talks with the opposition – the authorities held a sham presidential election. More than 70% of the electorate boycotted the fraudulent vote, heeding calls by the Venezuelan opposition and many other democratic governments worldwide. As expected, the heavily rigged election delivered a victory to Maduro, who now claims a mandate to serve a second six-year term, ending in 2025.