Washington, D.C. – In response to yesterday’s announcement of the new composition of Venezuela’s National Electoral Council (CNE), Congressman Gregory W. Meeks (D-NY), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, issued the following statement:  

“While the new formation of Venezuela’s National Electoral Council (CNE) is far from perfect, I believe that yesterday’s agreement between opposition representatives and the Maduro government marks an important step towards free and fair elections in the country. Given this important announcement, I strongly urge the Biden administration to acknowledge the new CNE and increase engagement with the Maduro government, opposition representatives, and members of civil society who played a decisive role in shaping this agreement. 

“This new CNE will have a seven-year mandate to organize and oversee the entire electoral process in Venezuela. This is the first time since 2006 that the CNE will have two opposition rectors, Enrique Márquez and Roberto Picón, both of whom have significant political and technical experience. While it remains clear that a new CNE is not a panacea, I believe that this will play a crucial role in opening the door for opportunities to deepen discussions on other vital electoral conditions. 

“The announcement of the new CNE also comes on the heels of other significant developments in Venezuela. The Maduro government’s agreement with the World Food Programme, continued collaboration with the opposition on the World Health Organization’s COVAX mechanism, and the decision to move six imprisoned CITGO executives to house arrest are important gestures of goodwill that the U.S. government should recognize.

“While I continue to be deeply concerned by human rights violations committed by the Maduro government and recognize that the path back to democracy is complicated, I believe that the Biden administration should send clear signals to Caracas that acknowledge these positive gestures and incentivizes further progress towards democracy.

“As we work towards a sustainable and inclusive pathway to free and fair elections, I will continue to call on the Maduro government to free political prisoners, allow full participation for opposition figures, and immediately end any and all repression of civil society, the press, and humanitarian organizations. At the same time, I am committed to exploring multilateral solutions and working with our partners in the international community to find common ground and help end the suffering of the Venezuelan people.”