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IFES Alarmed With Criminal Charges against Venezuelan Opposition Leader Maria Corina Machado


            2014 Democracy Award Recipient Summoned To Appear Before Prosecutors on December 3

WASHINGTON — (December 2, 2014) — The following is a statement by Bill Sweeney, President and CEO of the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), regarding an order issued by the Venezuelan Attorney General’s office forcing local opposition leader and 2014 Charles T. Manatt Democracy Award winner Maria Corina Machado to appear before prosecutors on December 3 to answer charges related to an alleged plot to kill President Nicolas Maduro:

IFES is deeply concerned with Machado’s safety as she faces unfounded charges of conspiracy to murder President Maduro. No evidence has been disclosed against Machado and she is an important voice for freedom and democracy in her native Venezuela.

We stand with Machado, who was expelled from the National Assembly and has been the target of numerous baseless accusations by the Venezuelan government since supporting peaceful demonstrations against Maduro’s regime earlier this year.

Machado has been harassed and physically attacked by authorities in various attempts to suppress opposition efforts to restore democracy in Venezuela. We were honored to recognize her valiant determination with a Charles T. Manatt Democracy Award in October.

Since she was not allowed to leave Venezuela and accept the Democracy Award in person, our special ceremony featured remarks by IFES Board Member, and former Colombian President, Andres Pastrana, Machado’s son Henrique Sosa Machado and a video message from Machado.

“She embodies on the one hand the most noble struggle for freedom, for democracy, for good governance, and on the other she forces us to reflect on all that still needs to be done to ensure that democratic gains are not eroded by the whim of individuals who believe there are no limits to their misdeeds,” said Pastrana in his passionate remarks.

In addition to Machado, IFES presented 2014 Democracy Awards to Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Congressman Steny Hoyer (D-Md.). Representative Hoyer added a statement to the Congressional Record in July about Machado and her fight for democracy in Venezuela.

The Charles T. Manatt Democracy Awards recognize the exceptional work of individuals who demonstrate an unwavering commitment to freedom and democracy. IFES presents the awards to those who embody the character and spirit of the late U.S. Ambassador and IFES Board of Directors Chairman Charles T. Manatt.

The Democracy Awards are given every year to three individuals — one Republican, one Democrat and one member of the international community — who work tirelessly to build organizations and strengthen networks of professionals that share a common dedication to freedom and democracy. Recipients are selected by IFES’ Board of Directors based on criteria such as sustained dedication; impact on the field of democracy; alignment with IFES’ mission; diversity and inclusion; influence on social change; and focus on the next generation of leaders.

Past Charles T. Manatt Democracy Awards recipients:

Maria Corina Machado, Venezuela
Hon. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.)
Hon. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.)

Dr. Leonardo Valdés Zurita, Mexico
Hon. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.)
Hon. Kay Granger (R-Tex.)

Maimuna Mwidau, Kenya
Hon. David Dreier (R-Calif.)
Hon. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.)

Judge Johann Kriegler, South Africa
Hon. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.)
Hon. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.)

Ziad Baroud, Lebanon
Hon. M. Peter McPherson, USAID
Hon. David Obey (D-Wis.)

Recipients, 1996-2007
Hon. Lee H. Hamilton
H.E. José Miguel Insulza, Chile, OAS
Hon. James Inhofe (R-Okla.)
Hon. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.)
Hon. Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.)
Rev. Msgr. Agripino Núñez Collado, Dominican Republic
H.E. Ronald Reagan
Richard Soudriette 


As the global leader in democracy promotion, IFES advances good governance and democratic rights by providing technical assistance to election officials; empowering the underrepresented to participate in the political process; and applying field-based research to improve the electoral cycle. Since 1987, IFES has worked in over 135 countries, from developing democracies, to mature democracies. For more information, visit