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Tensions between Venezuela and the European Union 2:40

(CNN) – The European Union risks angering its most important ally next month, after the Union agreed to send a team to To concern The Venezuelan electionswhich will take place on November 21.

The vote comes after three particularly chaotic years in the country, as interviewed President Nicolas Maduro I managed to stay in power despite a collapsed economyIt is the result of a contested election in 2018 and a sustained effort by the United States to remove it from power through coordinated Western sanctions involving the European Union.

However, earlier this year the bloc abandoned its recognition of Juan Guaido, Maduro’s opponent, as the legitimate president, putting him at odds with the United States, which still recognizes Guaido.

In parts of the United States, this has raised fears that by sending a delegation to the country for the first time since 2006, the EU will legitimize a process that Maduro, an often powerful leader, will eventually win. dictator.

The Venezuelan national flag flies during a mass opposition rally against President Nicolas Maduro in which the President of the Venezuelan National Assembly, Juan Guaido (non-cadre), declared himself “interim president” of the country, on the anniversary of the 1958 uprising that overthrew the military dictatorship in Caracas on January 23, 2019.

Anders Oppenheimer books In last week’s Miami Herald, “the European Union refused for 16 years to send election observation missions to Venezuela because it rightly considered the elections there to be fraudulent.”

He concludes that on election night “it is possible that the EU mission will announce that there have been no major irregularities, and an ecstatic Maduro will claim to have won a fair election. Several months later when the EU mission publishes its final report on which analyzes the entire electoral process and concludes with It was not a fair race and the elections will be forgotten.

Diplomatic sources confirmed to CNN that it is not just a columnist’s fear, but that there are very real concerns that Maduro, whatever the intentions of the European Union, may be doing this work to legitimize its hold on power.

Why would the EU be prepared to do this and risk the wrath of its most important ally?

First, sources in Brussels refute the idea that this would de facto give the elections the EU’s seal of approval. They say their deal is based on the fact that Venezuela’s National Electoral Council invited a delegation. An EU official said Brussels then sent a mission to see if the elections could be monitored “in accordance with 2005 UN guidelines”, noting that the bloc had not recognized the elections held in the country. Last year. “We’re not going there to legitimize the system, but to see what’s going on.”

Guaido is still in Caracas, but his efforts to take temporary power have stalled. (Photo: Carlos Becerra / Getty Images)

Second, the official says, “It makes no difference how we monitor Iraq, Peru, Pakistan or Mali. He’s one of the best-known election observers in the world, and if our partners ask us, we’ll explain our reasoning. No. We don’t have to justify ourselves to anyone.

To be sure, election monitoring groups often work and report on elections that are far from free or fair. For example, in 2017, the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, a well-respected organization, issued a scathing report on the referendum on the independence of the Turkey.

However, critics may argue that the context here is different. Turkey is a NATO ally and its democratic standards have declined for years. It was the documentation of this decline, which angered President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

What is different is Venezuela’s relative isolation from the West. It is debatable that even if the EU makes a very important report, its mere participation in the process could be used by Maduro as propaganda.

A State Department spokesperson told CNN that the United States “believes that free and fair national and local presidential elections are essential for Venezuelans to achieve a peaceful and democratic solution to the crises facing their country. “. Held jointly with the United States on June 25, August 14, the European Union and Canada made it clear that they share our views… For more questions on the planned EU Election Observation Mission , we refer you to EU officials.

These types of tensions between Brussels and Washington are, to some extent, inevitable, as the EU attempts to increase its influence as a differentiated world power and champion of Western values, rather than as an extension of American influence. .

However, the bloc must remember that whenever it departs from American policy – whether it is with regard to China, Russia or Venezuela – the nation’s leaders will note that it always rises. above all else on the world stage.

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