An opposition candidate named María Corina Machado overwhelmingly won a primary in October to challenge Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro in presidential elections next year. Maduro was the hand picked successor to Hugo Chavez and has been in power since 2013, overseeing an economic freefall and social dislocation of a massive scale. All the while, Maduro has tightened his grip on power through authoritarian means.
Elections in Venezuala have not been free nor fair. But there was a significant political breakthrough this month that suggests things might be different this time. In negotiations in Barbados, the Maduro government agreed to allow competitive elections in 2024. In response, the United States lifted some key sanctions on Venezuela. For the first time in long time, there is a decent chance that Venezuela may move past Maduro.
On the line with me to help understand these key recent developments is Mariano de Alba, a senior advisor for the International Crisis Group. We kick off discussing the background of Maduro's main challenger, María Corina Machado, before having a longer discussion about what this agreement in Barbados means for Venezuela's political future.