Venezuelan voters
Supporters of Venezuelan opposition attend a rally in San Antonio de los Altos AFP

The U.S. government is working to ensure the Venezuelan elections, set to take place in July, are credible despite facing several obstacles, a senior administration official said.

Speaking to media, the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that the Biden administration is engaging with Venezuelan "stakeholders" and regional and European counterparts with this purpose.

"The prospect for a free and fair election or even a minimally credible election remains one that we are very interested in seeking to advance, but we recognize also there are significant obstacles," the official said.

A potential reason for this is the fact that opposition candidate Edmundo González Urrutia currently has a large lead over Maduro in different polls.

"Whether or not Maduro could win an election in Venezuela is at best a very open question. Certainly there is a significant amount of polling that that is not the case," said the official about the studies, some of which show González Urrutia with a 40-point lead over the incumbent.

However, even if he wins the popular vote, a transition of power is far from guaranteed, according to experts consulted by The New York Times.

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro addresses the media in Caracas
Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro addresses the media in Caracas Reuters / LEONARDO FERNANDEZ VILORIA

As pressures from the U.S. and abroad continue, Maduro has shown little interest in leaving his position, The Times reports. In February, he promised a large crowd of followers that he would win the election "by hook or by crook."

In fact, a new report ponders about the possibility that president Nicolás Maduro will "manufacture" an escalation with neighbor Guyana to secure his grip on power.

The report, by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, shows increased military presence by Venezuelan forces near the Essequibo, a region that is administered by Guyana but Caracas claims as its own. One scenario considered by the report discusses the possibility that Maduro engages in a "true gambit to manufacture a regional crisis in the aftermath of a stolen election."

Oversight might also prove to be a challenge in July, as Venezuela's government-friendly Congress recently passed a motion to request the country's electoral body withdraw an invitation to the European Union to do so.

The decision came after the EU lifted sanctions against four members of the Venezuelan National Electoral Council (CNE), when Caracas had asked all members be impacted. The EU had agreed to lift some sanctions to increase chances of freer and fairer elections, but the reaction was not the one intended.

Body president Jorge Rodríguez, one of the government's most powerful figures, called EU members "bandits," "illegitimate" and "bastards" for not complying with the country's request. He went on to say the EU is biased in favor of González Urrutia, calling him "the candidate of the United States."

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