Venezuelan Opposition Includes Politicians with Links to Hugo Chavez

Opposition deputy Juan Carlos Caldera has been scrutinized for his cosy relationship with former president Hugo Chavez (
Opposition deputy Juan Carlos Caldera has been scrutinized for his cosy relationship with former president Hugo Chavez (800 Noticias).


This February 7, the coalition of parties opposed to the dictatorship of Nicolás Maduro, Mesa de la Unidad Democrática (MUD), announced a “restructuring meeting” held in order to relaunch the alliance. Nonetheless, skepticism arose with regard to the inclusion of former Chavez allies.

The commission will be chaired by the executive secretary of the MUD, Jesús “Chúo” Torrealba. His possible departure from the coalition leadership has been rumored in recent days.

In fact, Miranda state governor and prominent opposition leader, Henrique Capriles, proposed his resignation, since Torrealba “is not able to build consensus,” said the politician.

Others have pointed out that Jesús Torrealba is one of those responsible for his lack of reconciliation among the parties in the MUD, which has led to the need to restructure and facilitate new consensuses in the opposition coalition. Chúo acknowledged, in a press conference at the end of December 2016, that during the past year “the opposition rank-and-file expected more from their leadership.”

Meanwhile, the inclusion of Enrique Márquez, the leader of the social-democratic political party A New Time (UNT), was questioned.

The party of Márquez has been generating controversy within the Venezuelan opposition for several months. Problems began when mayors aligned with the UNT party in Zulia state signed a 2017 budget document which was illegally presented by President Nicolas Maduro to the Supreme Court of Justice.

The document, announced by the government to be a letter of compliance, was endorsed by several party mayors and by Mayor Eveling Trejo, who is the wife UNT founder (and former political prisoner), Manuel Rosales.

After the signing of the document, the absence of two UNT deputies prevented the National Assembly from appointing the rectors of the National Electoral Council. This action was widely criticized as well by other deputies of the opposition.

Faced with the controversy, Enrique Márquez asked during an interview that people not “demonize” UNT, and instead blamed the party of Leopoldo López, Popular Will, for the internal division in the MUD.

In addition, the party of Rosales and Márquez was the only one that, despite the cancellation of the dialogue between the dictatorship and the opposition, asked to remain at the negotiating table.

“The national leadership of UNT, regardless of the decision announced by the MUD, has decided to continue at the negotiating table,” said the party’s Secretary of International Politics, Timoteo Zambrano.

Finally, another one of the members of the “restructuring committee” of the MUD is the deputy of the Primero Justicia party, Juan Carlos Caldera.

Caldera was involved in a scandal when in September 2012, he appeared in a video where he appears to be receiving money for his campaign from the mayor of Sucre.

Because of that, the governor and presidential candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski, separated his presidential campaign. “I do not accept anyone using my name and political party for their own benefit,” Capriles said at the time.

Later it was made known that the money received for the Caldera campaign in Sucre municipality was sent by entrepreneur and former Chavez associate Wilmer Ruperti.

Caldera revealed in 2012 that he had met with businessman Ruperti at his home on at least three occasions. Faced with the scandal, the now deputy tried to explain away the charges, saying that “it was a setup.”

Entrepreneur Ruperti, who is a contractor for state oil company PDVSA, has been repeatedly criticized for his close relationship with former President Hugo Chavez.

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