HAVANA TIMES – On July 25, the regime of Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela illegally took away the passport of opposition leader Freddy Superlano, a declared opposition party candidate for the country’s October 22nd presidential primaries, and a hopeful contender in Venezuela’s 2024 presidential elections. The occurrence was denounced on Twitter by The Voluntad Popular [“Popular Will”] Party, to which Superlano belongs.
The passport incident occurred when Superlano was heading to Bogota, Colombia, to attend an activity. According to his Party’s Twitter statement, the Venezuela Immigration Authorities claimed that Superlano’s passport presented “certain inconsistencies.” The Party discounted the possibility, assuring that the document is “absolutely legal.”
“This action of the regime not only represents an attack and persecution against candidate Freddy Superlano, but also a violation of his right to an identity. It’s one more trick of the dictatorship, to try and detain a citizen who is ready to fight for Venezuela,” the political organization denounced.
Despite the inconvenience, Superlano was able to attend the event, even after his passport was taken away at the Atanasio Girardot International Bridge, popularly known as “Tienditas” which connects the two South American countries.
The Maduro regime has also imposed restrictions on the ability of other opposition leaders to leave the country, for example in the case of Maria Corina Machado of the Vente Venezuela Party.
Echoing Daniel Ortega’s election tactics
In Nicaragua, the regime of Daniel Ortega retained and cancelled passports and imposed restrictions on the entry and exit of his critics and political opponents. These and other, more brutal, tactics eventually allowed him to “win” a presidential election where he essentially ran virtually unopposed.
In the run-up to the 2021 Nicaraguan elections, the regime canceled the passport of Kitty Monterrey, president of the Ciudadanos por la Libertad Party (CxL); then, on August 6, Nicaragua’s Sandinista-dominated Supreme Electoral Council outlawed the CxL Party entirely. Some months previously, they had also canceled the legal status of another party, the Partido de Restauracion Democratica. These two cancellations were only a few of the many repressive measures taken against aspiring contenders in the election.
That same year, Mauricio Diaz was blocked from leaving the country for Costa Rica, together with his wife. Their passports were taken away and Diaz was later imprisoned. He was released in February of this year and banished to the United States, together with 221 other political prisoners.
Other well-known cases of passports being retained in Nicaragua include that of the Channel 10 news chief Mauricio Madrigal and the executive director of Nicaragua’s Permanent Human Rights Commission Marcos Carmona. The latter successfully fled the country last year over unmarked border crossings and is now exiled in the US.
Keeping opponents from running
Continuing with Ortega’s script for squashing the opposition, on June 30th the Venezuelan National Assembly, dominated by the Chavistas [followers of Hugo Chavez, now deceased, and of Maduro], voted to disqualify Maria Corina Machado from holding any public office for the next 15 years, with the justification of an “investigation of her patrimony.”
While this ineligibility doesn’t keep her from participating in the elections of this year – since they’re primaries and thus internal elections for the opposition, she would be unable to run in the 2024 national elections.
Following Maria Machado’s disqualification, opposition leader Juan Guaido – who some fifty countries considered Venezuela’s legitimate interim president from 2019-2022 – urged the world not to “look the other way” while Maduro goes down “the Nicaraguan road.”
“In this way, the dictator is planning to cling to power, persecuting and disqualifying the democratic alternative,” warned the Venezuelan opposition leader, who arrived in Miami last April after Colombian authorities expelled him from the country.
In 2021, the Ortega dictatorship blocked from running and later imprisoned all of the serious aspiring presidential candidates: Cristiana Chamorro, Arturo Cruz, Felix Maradiaga, Juan Sebastian Chamorro, Miguel Mora, Medardo Mairena and Noel Vidaurre. Eventually, Ortega declared himself the “victor” in November 2021 elections where he ran with essentially no competition.
At present, Superlano says he’ll compete in the internal primary elections of his party in October, even if the government bars him from occupying public office. These party elections are a matter that is outside the Venezuela government’s authority, but if he were officially blocked from registering with the Venezuelan National Electoral Council, then he couldn’t legally run for president, or any other electoral office.