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Venezuelan Opposition Remains Divided on Participation in Upcoming Regional Elections

By: Orlando Avendaño - @OrlvndoA - Aug 8, 2017, 11:14 am
(Twitter)
It is important to recall that that in a statement made in May of this year, Julio Borges denied that he would participate in regional elections. (Twitter)

EspañolVenezuela’s opposition has not come to an agreement about to should participate in the regional elections planned by Nicolás Maduro’s dictatorship in December.

After the National Constituent Assembly was voted into law through a fraudulent election at the end of July, some opposition members suggested that they participate in the next election despite the high probability that the regime would continue manipulating the results.

Members of the opposition originally condemned the Constituent Assembly when it passed, pointing out along with news agencies such as Reuters that the official figures did not coincide with actual turnout by at lest one million votes. Additionally, the company in charge of carrying out the election, Smartmatic, said the results were not reliable due to the lack of campaign procedures such as audits.

The same day as the Constituent Assembly, Henry Ramos Allup, Secretary of the opposition party Democratic Action, said his party would participate in the December elections. The opposition’s stance had remained generally clear and consistent up to that point, but Allup’s announcement seems to have created a schism in its approach to fighting the regime.

Vente Venezuela, the opposition party led by María Corina Machado, was the first to make clear they would not endorse fraudulent elections by participating in one. Following Machado came the Fearless People’s Alliance — led by political prisoner Antonio Ledezma and congressman Richard Blanco —  and the Radical Cause party run by congressmen Américo de Grazia, Ángel Álvarez and Andrés Velásquez.

Though Democratic Action has been the only party to publicly express willingness to participate, other parties reportedly want to as well, but haven’t made their decision public.

Local reporting by the Zuli-state newspaper El Nacional revealed that several parties are preparing candidates for gubernatorial elections. In addition to Democratic Action, they include A New Era, Popular Will, Justice First and Progressive Advance.

More than half of the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) parties making up the coalition are reportedly preparing for regional elections. Nineteen parties currently make up MUD, but the four main ones — A New Era, Democratic Action, Justice First and Popular Will — usually make opposition decisions. In this case, two are for participating, and two are against.

Manuel Rosales leads the New Era party, after having been released from prison in December 31, 2016 amid dialogues with the Maduro regime. Henri Falcon, the Governor of the state of Lara, leads the Progressive Action party. Until 2010, he was part of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela that currently holds power. Until 2012, he was part of the Patriotic Party, which also has Chavista roots.

But Justice First is the strongest undecided party, with the influential Henrique Capriles and Julio Borges leading the way. The two of them have reportedly disagreed in the past about which strategies the opposition should take. Capriles is reportedly more concerned about the number of people still suffering from a food shortage so severe that thousands still eat out of the trash. Elections, local publication El Pitazo reported, is not his primary concern.

In May, Borges  said that participating in regional elections would be “falling into the trap” of the Maduro regime.

“We will not fall into the trap of the regional elections this year,” he said at the time. “Maduro also announced an election that was never carried out. How can we trust him?”

Now, it seems that his conviction is wavering. Maduro himself even congratulated Justice First and other parties that have expressed willingness to participate.

“I greet the decision of the opposition political parties and register their candidates for the election of governors,” he said. “Democratic Action was the first to announce it, then Progressive Advance, A New Era and Justice First.”

Orlando Avendaño Orlando Avendaño

Orlando Avendaño is a PanAm Post intern who resides in Caracas, Venezuela, where he studies social communication at Andrés Bello Catholic University. Follow @OrlvndoA.