Michael Kozak, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs on an interim basis, said that the pardon of Nicolas Maduro’s regime responds to a maneuver to give legitimacy to the elections of next December 6th.
“Maduro’s latest tactic to make the upcoming elections appear “free and fair” is, in the first place, to conditionally release some political prisoners who have been unjustly imprisoned,” he said.
Kozak urged the international community not to forget that Maduro continues to imprison hundreds of political prisoners and that Venezuelans are not free.
“Political prisoners are not free when they are harassed and coerced to provide backing for an absurd election. (…) Some of the released prisoners were threatened with reincarceration if they participated in political parties,” he said.
He also said he was happy with the release of several Venezuelan leaders.
The U.S. representative said that Venezuela’s democracy can only prevail if all the conditions for free and fair elections are met.
“Free elections must include the lifting of the ban on political parties, respect for freedom and expression, an end to censorship and the dissolution of death squads,” he explained.
On the other hand, he assured that a free election must have an independent National Electoral Council and independent international electoral observers.
“This is a country where Maduro has not only taken over most of the major opposition parties and tried to replace their leadership with his puppets. He has illegally taken over the National Electoral Council, so that he can completely run the elections,” he said in an interview with VPITV.
He also recalled that in Venezuela there is still no freedom of the press or freedom of expression. And he recalled that the number of extrajudicial executions “continues at an astronomical level”.
Maduro's latest ploy to make upcoming elections appear "free and fair" is to conditionally release some political prisoners unjustly jailed in the first place.
Political prisoners aren't free when subject to harassment and coerced to provide cover for a farcical election.
— Michael G. Kozak (@WHAAsstSecty) September 1, 2020