Colombia’s Santos Says He Will Not Recognize Results of Venezuela’s Presidential Elections

Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos said on Thursday that he will not recognize the results of Venezuela’s presidential elections. The president added that he expects other countries to do the same.

Two days ago, the country’s constituent assembly voted to hold a presidential election by April 30. Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro has said he is ready to be a candidate. The US and others have rejected the decision to hold an early presidential election.

Recent Elections and Sanctions

The US and many other countries see the constituent assembly as an illegitimate congress, created to keep Maduro in power. The constituent assembly elections took place last year, despite the warnings from the US that there would be sanctions and the vote held by the opposition days before showing that millions of Venezuelans disapproved.

Santos, who has criticized the Venezuelan government many times in the past, warned before the constituent assembly elections last year that he would not recognize the results. Santos told journalists at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that his position is the same as expressed by the Lima Group, which recently released a statement rejecting Venezuela’s early elections. Santos had previously told Caracol Radio that he doesn’t think anyone will recognize the results until there are sufficient guarantees for a transparent election.

The US and many other countries have announced sanctions against the government since the constituent assembly elections took place. On Monday, the European Union announced economic and travel sanctions against seven Venezuelan officials.

Economic Collapse and Estimates

Venezuela’s economic crisis continues to get worse, with the IMF estimating that the country will be hit by a 13,000 percent inflation this year. The numbers are much worse than last year’s estimates by the IMF. Back in October 2017, the IMF had estimated an inflation rate of over 2,300 percent for 2018.

The Venezuelan opposition blames the economic crisis on mismanagement by the government while PSUV and their allies blame everyone but themselves of the collapse. The announcement of the early presidential elections comes just weeks after Maduro announced a ban for the main opposition parties after they decided to not participate in the municipal elections.

Secretary General of OAS Luis Almagro has described the early presidential elections as a farce. Almagro added that to get rid of the crisis there has to be free elections, with a believable electoral system, international observers and without political prisoners.