Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro called early presidential elections on Tuesday, set to occur before the end of April.
“It’s the right decision. Imperialism and the right were plotting to take over the economy,” Maduro said. He also urged the country’s National Electoral Council to “fix the earliest possible date” to hold the election. The date must occur before April 30, officials stated.
“Let’s get over with this, win the presidential poll and put an end to the imperialist threat,” Maduro told a group of supporters in Caracas. “If it was for me, the election would be held next Sunday.”
“Donald Trump is not the boss of Venezuela!” he declared.
Maduro’s announcement comes a month after he banned opposition leaders from running who had questioned the legitimacy of the latest round of elections. Other popular opposition leaders—such as Popular Will leader Leopoldo López and rightful mayor of Caracas Antonio Ledezma—remain imprisoned or exiled by the regime.
Maduro’s government also disqualified former Miranda Governor Henrique Capriles Radonski, the opposition’s nominee for the presidency during the last two elections, from running for any office in the country.
Fraudulent elections have been commonplace in Venezuela since the election of socialist revolutionary Hugo Chávez in 1998.
Last year alone saw two major fraudulent votes, the first being to elect members of Maduro’s “national constituent assembly,” an illegal parallel legislature that stripped elected lawmakers of power and replaced them with government supports. The election technology company Smartmatic later confirmed that voter turnout was manipulated by at least one million votes.
Last October’s regional elections also saw Maduro’s governing United Socialist Party of Venezuela storm to victory by winning 17 of 24 governorships. However, the State Department reported on a number of irregularities, which included a lack of independent electoral observers, the routine disqualification of candidates, and the closure of voting centers in opposition strongholds.
Maduro’s supposed electoral success comes despite widespread unpopularity as the country currently faces the worst economic and humanitarian crisis in its history, with a chronic lack of basic resources and a monthly minimum wage down to almost $1 (one) dollar a month.
Credible evidence also suggests that Maduro lost the 2013 presidential election to opposition leader Henrique Capriles, but coordinated an electoral fraud that gave him a razor-thin victory of 235,000 votes.
Opposition leaders have since derided the vote and urged potential candidates to boycott the vote.
“Given that there is no credible electoral arbiter and that opposition leaders invalidated to participate it is easy to anticipate results,” former presidential candidate Diego Arria told Breitbart News. “Even though Maduro is repudiated by 80 percent people but with the help of his electoral board, he will easily win. The opposition should not participate nor legitimize such a charade.”
“The dictatorship does not want free elections. No one in Venezuela or abroad should support another of Maduro’s farces,” added Antonio Ledezma.