Venezuela blasts U.S. for critique over barred opposition candidate

CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuela’s government on Saturday said it rejected the U.S. stance around the South American country’s upcoming elections, calling it “interference,” a day after the U.S. criticized Venezuela’s decision to disqualify an opposition candidate.

Maria Corina Machado, one of the favorites to win the Venezuelan opposition’s nomination for president in an October primary, has been barred from holding public office for 15 years.

In response, the U.S. State Department said Venezuelans should be able to act freely in the 2024 presidential elections, and disqualifying Machado “deprives” them of political rights.

Venezuela’s government said in a statement it “firmly rejects the new attempt by the government of the United States to interfere in its internal affairs” and defended its actions as sovereign and independent.

The Washington-based Organization of American States also rejected the decision to bar Machado and called for free and transparent elections.

(Reporting by Deisy Buitrago; Writing by Daina Beth Solomon; Editing by Daniel Wallis)