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Maria Corina Machado


Maria Corina Machado Parisca (born 1968) is a founder, former vice president, and former president of the Venezuelan volunteer civil organization Sumate, along with Alejandro Plaz.

Machado was charged (along with other Sumate representatives) with conspiracy for funds Sumate received from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), triggering condemnation of the administration of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez from human rights groups. The New York Times said she was "the Venezuelan government's most detested adversary, a young woman with a quick wit and machine-gun-fast delivery who often appears in Washington or Madrid to denounce what she calls the erosion of democracy under President Hugo Chavez", and says the Venezuelan government considers her "a member of a corrupt elite that is doing the bidding of the much reviled Bush administration".Forero, Juan (19 November 2005). "The Saturday Profile; Venezuela's Best-Loved, or Maybe Most-Hated, Citizen". The New York Times. Accessed 24 February 2010.

In February 2010, Machado resigned from Sumateand announced her candidacy for the National Assembly of Venezuela.

Sumate

According to The Washington Post, Machado and Plaz had a hurried encounter in a hotel lobby in 2001, where they shared their concern about the course that was being shaped for Venezuela. Machado said, "Something clicked. I had this unsettling feeling that I could not stay at home and watch the country get polarized and collapse .... We had to keep the electoral process but change the course, to give Venezuelans the chance to count ourselves, to dissipate tensions before they built up. It was a choice of ballots over bullets."Boustany, Nora. "Signing On To Challenge Hugo Chavez". The Washington Post. Washington, D.C.: 9 July 2004. p. A.15. Accessed 24 February 2010.

In 2004, Sumateled a petition drive for a constitutional presidential recall of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. According to CBS News, Chavez branded the leaders of Sumate as conspirators, coup plotters and lackeys of the U.S. government. Chavez Calls Watchdog Group a Top Enemy. CBS News(3 December 2005). Previously at this link, also available at LexisNexis and archive.wn.com. Accessed 24 February 2010. After the referendum, members of Sumatewere charged with treason and conspiracy, under Article 132 of the Venezuelan Penal Code, for receiving financial support for their activities from the NED.

Machado acknowledges the support of Venezuelans for Chavez, saying "We have to recognize the positive things that have been done", but says that the president is "increasingly intolerant".

Conspiracy and treason charges

The Wall Street Journal'' says Machado faces conspiracy charge stemming from a $31,000 grant from the NED for "non-partisan educational work".O'Grady, Mary A. "A Young Defender of Democracy Faces Chavez's Wrath". Wall Street Journal, (10 June 2005); p. A9. According to The Christian Science Monitor, she also faces treason charges for signing the Carmona Decree during the 2002 coup attempt in Venezuela.Ceaser, Mike (5 July 2005). "Anti-Chavez leader under fire". Christian Science Monitor. Machado says she wrote her name on what she believed to be a sign-in sheet while visiting the presidential palace.

The charges carry a penalty of more than a decade in prison; the trial was suspended in February 2006 because of due process violations by the trial judge, and has been postponed several times. Machado and Plaz were invited to meet with National Assembly legislators in August 2006 for an investigation about ''Sumate'sfunding, but were denied access to the hearing, although they say they received two letters requesting their presence. "Lawmakers fail to interrogate Sumate directors". El Universal'' (1 August 2006). Accessed 24 February 2010.

A U.S. Department of State spokesperson said the decision to prosecute her was "part of President Hugo Chavez's campaign ... aimed at frightening members of civil society and preventing them from exercising their democratic rights", adding that the Bush administration was "seriously concerned" about the Supreme Tribunal of Justice's (TSJ) decision. "Chavez intends to frighten opposition with NGO Sumate trial, says US spokesman". El Universal (8 July 2006). Accessed 24 February 2010. The criminal charges triggered condemnation from Human Rights Watch and democracy groups, the U.S. Embassy in Venezuela, and a coalition of world leaders.

National Assembly candidate

In February 2010, Machado resigned from Sumate "Comunicado de Sumate sobre renuncia de Maria Corina Machado". El Universal (12 February 2010). Accessed 25 February 2010. and announced her candidacy for the National Assembly of Venezuela, representing Chacao, Baruta, El Hatillo and the Parroquia Leoncio Martinez de Sucre. "Maria Corina Machado lanzo su precandidatura a la AN". El Nacional (18 February 2010). Accessed 25 February 2010. In announcing her candidacy, she said Venezuelans were good, decent and free people who don't want to live with violence or hate; she promised to defend the right for Venezuelans to think freely and live without fear. "Maria Corina Machado presenta su precandidatura a la Asamblea Nacional". El Universal (18 February 2010). Accessed 25 February 2010. Venezuela "es un pueblo de gente buena, decente, libre y los venezolanos no queremos vivir con violencia, con mas odios. Los venezolanos no queremos vivir con miedo". ... Aseguro que trabajara sin descanso para defender "el derecho a pensar libremente, para defender tu derecho a vivir sin miedo, a que nadie te imponga ideas, a un trabajo digno sin que importe tus ideologias politicas, a la propiedad de tus bienes y de que tus hijos se beneficien de ellos". She said she hopes to build a "responsible government", transforming public institutions, especially the National Electoral Council. Martinez, Eugenio G. "Hay que transformar las instituciones publicas". El Universal (22 February 2010). Accessed 25 February 2010. "Maria Corina Machado aspira a llegar a la Asamblea Nacional para comenzar a construir 'un gobierno responsable', desde un 'parlamento responsable' y lograr la transformacion de las instituciones publicas, especialmente el CNE.

A representative of the Bolivarian Circles described Machado as la candidata contrarrevolucionaria (the counterrevolutionary candidate).

Recognition

U.S. President George W. Bush welcomed Machado to the Oval Office in May 2005. After meeting with Machado and discussing ''Sumate's'' "efforts to safeguard the integrity and transparency of Venezuela's electoral process", a White House spokesperson said, "[t]he President expressed his concerns about efforts to harass and intimidate Sumate and its leadership". "Bush expressed concern about Venezuelan government's harassment against Sumate". El Universal, (1 June 2005). Accessed 24 February 2010. Venezuela's foreign minister called Machado's meeting with Bush "a provocation," while Venezuela's interior minister said that she is a puppet of the CIA.

Machado was hailed by National Review in 2006 as "the best of womankind and the difficult times many women face around the globe" on a list of Women the World Should Know for International Women's Day. "Women the World Should Know". National Review Online (8 March 2006). Accessed 1 July 2006.

In 2009, Machado was chosen out of 900 applicants as one of 15 accepted to the Yale World Fellows Program. The Yale University program, "aim[s] to build a global network of emerging leaders and to broaden international understanding worldwide. ... 'Each of the 2009 Yale World Fellows has demonstrated an outstanding record of accomplishment and unlimited potential for future success,' said Program Director Michael Cappello". The Yale World Fellows Program press release said, "Machado devotes herself to defending democratic institutions and civil liberties through SUMATE, the nation's leading watchdog for electoral transparency."

Personal

Machado is the "eldest of four daughters born to a steel entrepreneur and an accomplished psychologist". She acknowledges a "childhood protected from contact with reality" in a "conservative, staunchly Catholic family", that included education in Venezuelan private schools and U.S. boarding schools, and trips to Europe. Her ancestors included the author of the 1881 classic Heroic Venezuela and a relative who was killed in an uprising against Venezuelan dictator Juan Vicente Gomez.

Machado has a degree in industrial engineering from Andres Bello Catholic University and a Master's degree in finance from Instituto de Estudios Superiores de Administracion in Caracas. "Maria Corina Machado". El Universal, (24 April 2006). Accessed 24 February 2010.

In 1992 Machado – the mother of three – started Fundacion Atenea (Atenea Foundation), a foundation using private donations to care for orphaned and delinquent Caracas street children; she also served as chair of the Oportunitas Foundation. After working in the auto industry in Valencia she moved in 1993 to Caracas. Because of her subsequent role in Sumate, Machado left the foundation so that it would not be politicized.

External links

Official Sumate website

Maria Corina Machado's Flickr photostream

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Maria Corina Machado


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