President Nicolás Maduro’s rivals are divided between those who want to remove him by force, those who want him to step down and those who want to remove him through the ballot box. What is certain is that they are in the dark, without a compass to guide their course.
Ramón Guillermo Aveledo, former secretary of the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD by its Spanish acronym), recently told Globovisión television channel that the opposition now stands before the country “fractured and divided, seeking the same outcome vi
a different paths”.
Political opponents comprise the MUD and the Broad Front for a Free Venezuela, which bring together the country’s main hubs of opposition; We Are Venezuela, led by María Corina Machado; and the new platform established by former presidential candidate Henri Falcón, comprised of the Progressive Advance Party, Movement Toward Socialism (MAS), the Independent Political Electoral Organisation Committee (COPEI) and the Venezuelan Ecological Movement.
In recent statements to the press, COPEI Secretary General Miguel Salazar explained that at present the opposition is totally divided, and has fractured into three parts: “One which wants to oust (president Nicolás) Maduro by force; another which wants to remove him by demanding his resignation and through the National Assembly; and those of us who want to remove Maduro through the ballot box”.
However, in the presidential elections that took place on 20 May, Maduro was re-elected with 6,190,612 votes (67.8%) and will govern for another six-year term (2019-2025).
Mayor of El Hatillo (Miranda) Elías Sayegh defined the crisis facing the opposition, claiming “the opposition is ex
periencing perhaps its worst moment in these 20 years of government”. A fact he attributed to those “seeking notoriety at others’ expense”.
This is reflected in the latest actions of anti-government groups, in desperate attempts to rebuild alliances, seek unions and do away with the grandstanding that prevents this.
On 19 July, a significant number of the opposition met, including former presidential candidate Henri Falcón, in an effort to bridge their differences.
Ex-governor of Miranda, Henrique Capriles, promoted and participated in this meeting, alongside Secretary General of the Democratic Action party (AD), Henry Ramos Allup; leader of A New Time (UNT), Manuel Rosales; former rector of the National Electoral Council (CNE), Vicente Díaz; and via videoconference, member of parliament for Justice First (PJ), Julio Borges.
Despite contacts, meetings and every type of exchange imaginable, Chavism’s opponents have not found their way and there is no shortage of those who doubt the possibility of an agreement being reached.
In this respect, former MUD secretary Jesús ‘Chúo’ Torrealba stated that now “we have three mini-MUDs: the G4 (AD, VP [Popular Will], PJ and UNT); Henri Falcón’s mini-MUD; and the semi mini-MUD led by María Corina Machado and Antonio Ledezma”.
But for Torrealba the most important thing goes beyond the problem of division; it is that the opposition “doesn’t know where it is going”. He also emphasised Venezuela’s lack of national leadership for anti-government organisations.
On the other hand, the division in the opposition’s leadership has repercussions amongst its followers, as demonstrated in the latest presidential elections, in which the abstentionist option promoted by some groups has prevented their current participation in the political life of the country.
Chief rector of the CNE, Tania D’Amelio, has stated that national and regional organisations which opted to boycott the elections on 20 May will not be able to nominate candidates for municipal elections on 9 December.
Via her Twitter account, D’Amelio categorically affirmed that only those who had not shunned the electoral route and had put their trust “in the presidential and regional elections on 20th May” will be able to take part, “and those who abstained from nominating [a candidate] are prevented from doing so”.
Currently, 30 regional political organisations have started the CNE’s registration process for the elections of municipal council members on 9 December this year.
Through this process, those Venezuelans listed on the electoral register will elect 4,900 councillors and their respective alternates.
Of these, 1,703 will be elected nominally, 685 by list and 69 by indigenous communities.
The electoral campaign for this return to the polls, from which the opposition is excluded, will last for 16 days, from 22 November to midnight on 7 December. (PL)
(Translated by Rebecca Ndhlovu)