Venezuela delays presidential vote until second half of May


The Trump administration is considering placing sanctions on Venezuelan oil operations in response to President Nicolas Maduro's controversial reelection bid, Reuters reported Thursday.

However, Nicaragua, Bolivia, the Dominican Republic and El Salvador rejected the OAS resolution in February that called on Venezuela to "reconsider the convening of the presidential elections" on April 22.

Falcon, a former state governor who has broken with an opposition boycott to run against Maduro, said he would prioritize repairing relations with Washington should he win the vote slated for April 22. The vote is being held eight months ahead of schedule and overseen by an electoral authority widely seen as corrupt.

Western nations and a dozen Latin American neighbors have reprimanded Maduro's government over unfair conditions for the vote, and the United States is considering imposing sanctions on the OPEC member's crucial oil sector.

Representatives from the government and several opposition parties signed the agreement at the CNE's headquarters in Caracas.

The sanctions are reportedly still under discussion, and could be implemented both before and after the election.

Campaign chiefs Luis Romero for Henri Falcon, and Jorge Rodriguez for President Maduro, signed the agreement guaranteeing that all parties would also respect the results of the rescheduled elections.

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Lucena did not yet set an election date. He told Reuters he may pull out if guarantees are not given.

Given his roots within 'Chavismo as the ruling movement is known after former president Hugo Chavez Falcon may appeal to some government supporters, although many also view him as a traitor for having jumped to the opposition eight years ago.

Falcon, a former military officer, styles himself a center-leftist, seeking to combine business-friendly economic policies with strong social welfare programs.

In a broadcast on Facebook on Thursday, Maduro said Venezuela's minimum wage was rising 58 percent as of March 1 to 392,646 bolivars a month, or $1.84 according to DolarToday, a website that closely tracks the black market rate. His decision was described as "unilateral" by MUD, which said it believes conditions for the elections are unfair.

The MUD has since expelled Falcon from the opposition alliance, and many analysts fear he stands little chance without the coalition's support.

The United States and the European Union repeatedly voiced their objections to Maduro's plan to convene a new constituent assembly, an elected body that has the power to propose changes to the Constitution.

The election has been widely criticized by countries throughout Latin America and the USA, which has hinted at expanding sanctions if the vote takes place.