New Venezuelan opposition alliance shuns popular leaders, welcomes chavistas ‘light’

For the creation of the new "Broad Front", the MUD was willing to align itself with former chavistas, guilty of human rights violations.

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The decision of the Venezuelan opposition to welcome former chavistas who have committed serious crimes, is alarming (Twitter).

On March 8, the coalition of allegedly opposition parties, Mesa de la Unidad Democrática (MUD), created a new movement, the “Broad Front for a Free Venezuela”. It is yet another attempt to resuscitate tired and rejected politicians.

The announcement of the new platform was made at the Teatro Chacao, in Caracas. Representatives of civil society (members of the student movement, businessmen, rectors, and priests) were in attendance; however, it was two groups that stood out.

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The first group of politicians that make up the Broad Front are the same whose mistakes, errors, and positions forced the creation of this new coalition in the first place.

The coalition includes Enrique Márquez, a key party leader of “Un Nuevo Tiempo” (UNT), who suggested helping the regime to lift the sanctions and debated the possibility of recognizing the illegitimate National Constituent Assembly; Ramón Guillermo Aveledo, who split from MUD long ago after a stalemate in the midst of a power struggle; Henry Ramos Allup, leader of Acción Democrática (AD), a party that swore in governors before the National Constituent Assembly and has been responsible for other capitulations; Henrique Capriles Radonski, a man who should no longer continue in politics because of his lack of coherence (in fact, although he sat next to Henry Ramos Allup, a few months ago he said that he would not continue to be part of the MUD while Allup remained the leader of Acción Democrática); the president of the National Assembly of Venezuela, Omar Barboza, who was imposed by his political movement, UNT, turning his back on the rest of the parties and civil society, among other leaders.

“In Venezuela it seems like time stands still, and people do not learn from experience. Everything is always “back to the drawing board” with the same people doing what they know best: speaking forcefully and clearly against the tyranny. Alliances, we need. But not with those who have failed to learn the important lessons,” wrote the political scientist and professor at the University of Muenster in Germany, Ivo Hernández, on his Twitter account.

These are the same people that make up the MUD. The elders of yesterday’s political struggles intend to continue at the forefront of a battle where victory has always eluded them. They are the representatives of the parties that have been rejected are now distrusted by the Venezuelan people.

They are parties that, in periods of election, have fought each other. All eagerly eyeing their own slice of the political pie. During the primaries for governor at last year’s fraudulent regional elections, these same political forces did the people of Venezuela a great disservice, and offered only a show.

Primero Justicia’s (PJ) Juan Pablo Guanipa was denied the governorship of Zulia despite winning the election, because he failed to submit the office to the whims of the National Constituent Assembly – a shameful process that those from Acción Democrática party did comply with. The leader of UNT, Manuel Rosales, announced then that he would try to stay on with the governorship that chavismo snatched away from Primero Justicia.

Obviously, Guanipa condemned the Rosales’ indecency. He branded him a “traitor.” He was an opportunist who sought to take advantage of the siege against the opposition. But in Chacao, on March 8, Juan Pablo Guanipa was sitting next to the representatives of Rosales’ party. Yet they still expect to gain the public’s trust and confidence.

In addition to subjecting society to the same worn out and tired politicians, a second group entered the fray: the “dissenting” chavistas.

The unacceptable faces

These presumed dissidents, after committing the most terrible acts in the name of the chavista regime, now seek to receive absolution. The group was not present in full force, certainly, because one of its members did not attend. The former Chavez minister, Rodríguez Torres, who with his political force Movimiento Amplio Desafío de Todos (MADT) is part of the new Broad Front.

Rodríguez Torres was Minister of Interior and Justice between 2013 and 2014. And he is chiefly responsible for the torture, murder, and excessive repression during anti-government demonstrations in the first months of 2014. He is also responsible for the creation of “The Tomb,” the dismal and inhumane prison of the SEBIN political police that operates from several meters underground in Plaza Venezuela, Caracas.

Now, Rodríguez Torres is a supposed dissident. And the MUD had no problem receiving him and integrating him into its new Broad Front platform. They also had no difficulty in embracing another “dissident” of the regime: former public defender, Gabriela Ramírez.

The chavista-but-not-madurista was also an acting government official during the 2014 protests. She is also responsible for serious human rights violations. Her duty was to safeguard the well-being of Venezuelan citizens; but, instead, she justified the regime’s crimes.

“If 11 or 15 young people are apprehended and a person is beaten or mistreated, torture has a purpose, torture is used to obtain information. It inflicts physical suffering on a person to obtain a confession and we have to differentiate this from excessive mistreatment,” she said, in her position as public defender, on March 8, 2014.

And Ramirez was not just present in the coalition’s launch event–she was the moderator. This is  a fact that, like the integration of Rodriguez Torres in the MUD’s Broad Front, has aroused the indignation of a large part of the citizenry.

“My main criticism: they invited to the opening event, the person who declared that Franklin Brito was not in ‘the best mental condition’ and said that his legal case had been appropriately resolved, thus lying to the whole world. End of story,” wrote the professor and political analyst, Óscar Vallés, referring to a controversial case in Venezuela, when then President Chávez left Brito to die of hunger, while he was protesting the expropriation of his lands.

Human rights violators, yes; but critics, no

There was also a critical absence. The meeting in Chacao was a merging of MUD politicians with “dissenting” chavistas to give the appearance of a new and fresh alliance. The invitation was extended to Rodriguez Torres and Gabriela Ramírez, but not to any of the popular members of the Soy Venezuela Alliance – who probably would not have attended, given the participants.

This new alliance, which was born as an urgent response to the mistakes of the MUD and their rejection by society, has maintained a firm stand against the improbable new coalition of parties.

Both are inherently incongruous political platforms; but, while one has already expired, as the German political analyst Georg Eickhoff points out in his articles, the other, though timid and still unable to offer a decisive plan, has been strengthened.

But the important thing here is that for the creation of the Broad Front (Frente Amplio) – a name that is also shared with the communist movements in countries in the southern cone, all belonging to the Sao Paulo Forum – the rapprochement between the two alliances was not sought.

Neither historical leader Enrique Aristeguieta Gramcko, nor the outstanding historian Germán Carrera Damas; nor Maria Corina Machado, Erik Del Búfalo, or Victor Maldonado were at the Broad Front meeting. They probably did not receive an invitation, as those responsible for human rights violations, Miguel Rodríguez Torres and Gabriela Ramírez, did.

The youth resistance that spoke the truth

But there was a decisive moment. Perhaps the most important of the meeting. A young man, presumably a representative of the Venezuelan Resistance, climbed onto the stage to steal the microphone and offer a string of truths.

He did it while Ramírez tried to silence him, but those attending the event asked that he be allowed to express himself. And also he did it in the face of dirty looks from the worn out and rejected politicians:

“This regime won’t leave power through classic nor modern democratic methods,” he said, “it is only trough street demonstrations, through the constant battle and denouncement of every crime committed by this regime that we can be rid of this criminal organization in government.”

“The only thing we should be deciding here is the jail in which Nicolás Maduro should spend the rest of his life.”

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