EU Mission Arrives in Venezuela to Assess Election Guarantees

A European Union technical mission arrived in Venezuela to assess whether conditions exist to deploy an electoral observation mission during the Nov. 21 governor and mayoral elections.

The EU group will meet Thursday with Foreign Affairs Ministry officials and the Electoral Council, responsible for organizing the vote, according to four people with knowledge of the meetings.

European delegates will also hold conversations with political party leaders participating in the upcoming elections and political experts through next week, the people said.

The technical mission, with three officials and four electoral experts, will stay in Venezuela through July 23, according to a statement of the electoral body.

EU Mission Arrives in Venezuela to Assess Election Guarantees

After the opposition boycotted the 2018 presidential election and the 2020 legislative vote, arguing that both lacked guarantees to be free and fair, President Nicolas Maduro’s government made some concessions to oppositions demands, such as including two of its representatives in the five-member Electoral Council board and the release of several political prisoners last year.

Venezuela’s opposition has long demanded and sought an independent electoral mission, but that’s not the only demand. It has also pushed for the release of all political prisoners -- around 300 -- the return of political parties to the opposition -- now in the hands of Maduro’s allies-- and enabling opposition leaders to run for posts, as current government sanctions forbid them to.

It is not clear whether an EU observation mission will be enough to draw the opposition to the vote. The country’s opposition leader, Juan Guaido, said that participation in local elections is subject to guarantees and a previous agreement among opposition political parties.

“We hope this trip will be more than a formality,” Guaido said regarding the EU’s exploratory mission.

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