Nuevo Culture

Who is María Corina Machado, the Candidate Banned from Running for President in Venezuela?

Venezuelan opposition leader María Corina Machado vowed on Monday, January 29, 2024, that she would compete in this year’s presidential elections in Venezuela. Her words come in direct defiance of a Supreme Tribunal of Justice ruling that prevents her from running until 2036, and that was upheld the previous Friday. But who is María Corina Machado, and why do so many people consider her Venezuela’s biggest hope of ousting current President Nicolás Maduro?

María Corina Machado is an industrial engineer and a politician for over two decades. She graduated from the World Leaders in Public Policy Program at Yale and founded the political party Vente Venezuela in 2012. She is currently the party’s coordinator.

In 2014, Machado, then a member of the National Assembly of Venezuela, called for a wave of protests against the government. Those protests, widely known as “La Salida,” led to 43 deaths, 486 injuries, and 1,854 arrests, as well as a case against Venezuela against the International Court of Justice. 

Machado, in response, briefly accepted the position as alternate ambassador from Panama to the Organization of American States (OAS) so she could denounce Venezuela, which led to the government ousting her from her position in the National Assembly and banning her from leaving the country until the investigation was completed. That was eight years ago.

In 2021, the Supreme Tribunal of Justice went even further, banning Machado from running for President. 

But Machado has promised not to give up, and she seems to have the full support of the United States. The Biden administration lifted most economic sanctions on Venezuela three months ago after promises were made for a free election in Venezuela for President, but news that Machado cannot run and that her ban will continue has led to a change from Washington.

Some of the sanctions against Venezuela have already been reimposed, and the warning is clear: if all the candidates, including Machado, cannot run, the rest – including sanctions on oil and gas – will also be reimposed. 

Many other countries have also spoken up about the election. Costa Rica, Ecuador, and the Dominican Republic have released a joint statement about the continued ban.

And María Corina Machado herself has recently spoken to CBS News and boldly declared, “Maduro knows that if he faces me in the Presidential election, he will lose.”