As Venezuela prepares for a presidential election on Sunday, an election in which potential opposition candidates are either jailed or prohibited from competing, and with an electoral system manipulated to favor the incumbent, making President Nicolas Maduro almost certain to win by default, Freedom House issued the following statement:

“Maduro scheduled a clearly unconstitutional presidential election after destroying the remnants of Venezuela’s democracy and assuming all power as a dictator,” said Carlos Ponce, director of Latin America programs at Freedom House. “Venezuela’s neighbors and the United States should regard the voting on Sunday as a sham and make clear that they regard Maduro as the illegitimate leader of a failed state, where citizens are no longer allowed to choose their leaders.”

“The  United States, Venezuela’s neighbors, and international organizations should also agree on a comprehensive plan for the democratic reconstruction of Venezuela,” Ponce said.

Ponce said a recovery plan should begin with the following:

  • The United States and the international community should significantly tighten sanctions targeting Maduro and his inner circle, with measures that including visa bans, freezes of assets held in the United States, and measures against companies doing business with Venezuelan officials responsible for gross human rights violations, violence against peaceful protestors, or who have engaged in large-scale corruption.
  • The United States should also consider bringing charges against Maduro  and any involved associates in U.S. federal court under the…