Banned Venezuelan opposition candidate won't leave presidential race

Maria Corina Machado, opposition leader of the Vente Venezuela party, speaks at a press conference after being banned from holding public office for 15 years. Despite the ban, Machado wants to challenge the authoritarian President Maduro in this year's elections. Pedro Rances Mattey/dpa
Maria Corina Machado, opposition leader of the Vente Venezuela party, speaks at a press conference after being banned from holding public office for 15 years. Despite the ban, Machado wants to challenge the authoritarian President Maduro in this year's elections. Pedro Rances Mattey/dpa

Venezuelan opposition leader María Corina Machado said she still intends to challenge the authoritarian President Nicolás Maduro in this year's elections - even though she is banned from holding office.

"We will beat Maduro in the presidential election and we will do it together," the 56-year-old told a press conference on Monday, according to a report in the newspaper El Nacional.

Machado, from the Vente Venezuela party, was chosen by a wide majority as the opposition's presidential candidate in internal primaries last October.

But last year she was banned from holding public office for 15 years due to alleged "administrative irregularities" from her time as a member of parliament.

Last Friday, the Supreme Justice Tribunal confirmed the decision.

Venezuela has been in a severe political crisis for years. Maduro is cracking down on opponents of the government and has banned several leading members of the opposition from political activity.

Economically, the once-rich country is suffering from mismanagement, corruption and sanctions. According to UN figures, more than 7 million people have left Venezuela in recent years due to poverty and violence.

Maria Corina Machado, opposition leader of the Vente Venezuela party, stands in front of her party's headquarters after being banned from holding public office for 15 years. Despite the ban, Machado wants to challenge the authoritarian President Maduro in this year's elections. Pedro Rances Mattey/dpa
Maria Corina Machado, opposition leader of the Vente Venezuela party, stands in front of her party's headquarters after being banned from holding public office for 15 years. Despite the ban, Machado wants to challenge the authoritarian President Maduro in this year's elections. Pedro Rances Mattey/dpa