(Reuters, 19.Oct.2023) — Voters in Venezuela will on Sunday choose a unity candidate from among 10 hopefuls to represent the country’s opposition in 2024 presidential elections, when President Nicolas Maduro is expected to seek re-election.
The primary is the first held by Venezuela’s opposition in over a decade.
Favorite Maria Corina Machado is barred from holding public office, in a move criticized by the opposition and the U.S alike, and it is not clear what will happen if she wins the primary.
Two other candidates – former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles and ex-lawmaker Freddy Superlano – have already withdrawn their candidacies because of similar disqualifications.
The U.S. government has conveyed to Maduro bans must be lifted for all opposition presidential candidates by the end of November in exchange for sanction relief, a senior U.S. official said on Wednesday.
Here is a look at the top three candidates:
MARIA CORINA MACHADO
Industrial engineer Machado, 56, a candidate for the Vente Venezuela party, has led polls by dozens of points, despite being disqualified.
Machado, a mother of three, has said she plans to privatize state-owned oil company PDVSA if she goes on to win the presidential election next year.
She has also set her sights on privatizing the Sidor steel company, restructuring public debt and seeking financing from multilateral agencies like the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank and the International Monetary Fund, among other ideas.
“We must immediately ensure that economic growth translates into productive, well-paid employment, a growth of the middle class and a sense of well-being and hope,” Machado recently told journalists.
Prosperi, 45, a lawyer, is a member of the social democratic party Accion Democratica, from whose ranks have sprung several presidents.
Born in Caracas but with family ties to the eastern state of Guarico, Prosperi has said that not being known at a national level could help him win over a skeptical population.
The former lawmaker wants to rebuild PDVSA and Venezuela’s iron and steel industries, as well as fix the ailing electrical grid, to boost growth.
He has pledged to seek funding agreements with multilateral lenders and to support social spending, though he has not given details, and has also called for efforts to tackle corruption.
Human rights activist and lawyer Solorzano has taken on the defense of some detainees considered by the opposition to be political prisoners.
Solorzano, who defines herself as “center-right” and is also a former lawmaker, has represented hundreds of victims from Venezuela before the International Criminal Court and several United Nations commissions.
She says that her government plan includes emergency actions on security, the economy and the legal system.
Solorzano has proposed expanding the role of private investment in the energy sector and reorganizing PDVSA to remove functions unrelated to oil, which include food distribution and building houses.
Reporting by Deisy Buitrago Additional reporting by Vivian Sequera and Mayela Armas Writing by Oliver Griffin Editing by Marguerita Choy