The opposition in Venezuela, facing an internal crossroads

The opposition to the Government of the President of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, made official last Monday the 14 candidates who will compete in an internal one organized by themselves, without the intervention of the National Electoral Council (CNE) to which it corresponded to do so by regulation. Because on June 15, two main rectors and six substitutes from that electoral council resigned, and days later the rest without official explanation. And last Friday, the ultra-right Maria Corina Machado –one of the candidates of that inmate– was disqualified from running for the 2024 presidential elections.

The National Assembly will elect the new members of the CNE. Given the uncertainty about when and who they would be, the opposition parties created the National Commission for Primary and on October 22 they will vote to choose a unitary candidate for the presidential elections. Until now, the CNE was made up, by means of a political agreement, of two sympathizers or representatives of the opposition and three of the ruling party.

Given the vacancy of members in the CNE, the Communist Party of Venezuela demanded that the new composition be autonomous and independent of the two hegemonic political blocs in the country: “We demand a CNE that has autonomy and independence from the Government and from any other political party; a CNE that establishes credibility in our population”, affirmed the President of the CVP, Perfect Abreu Nieves.

A fan of Vox and Milei

According to the survey of Power and Strategy At the beginning of this month, the pre-candidate with the most chances of winning in the internal opposition is María Corina Machado with 9.4% of the votes (28% would vote for “none”, 22% “don’t know” and 4 .1% for Henrique Capriles).

This industrial engineer graduated from the Andrés Bello Catholic University specializing in finance, leads the party Sell ​​Venezuela and for more than 20 years she has exercised a very tough opposition to Chavismo with far-right positions: she declares herself an admirer and friend of Patricia Bullrich and Javier Mileihas had close political relations with the former presidents of Colombia alvaro uribe -linked to the paramilitaries- and his successor ivan duke. When Jair Bolsonaro came to power in Brazil, Machado wrote him a public letter: “We see in his next government an opportunity that goes beyond the borders of Brazil, since his message is projected to those Latin American countries where dictatorial regimes They intend to remain in power forever, as is the case of Nicaragua, Bolivia, Cuba and Venezuela”.

The reasons why the General Administration disqualified Machado from holding elective positions for 15 years are based on a patrimonial investigation in which, according to the institution, there were errors and omissions in the sworn statements. The other cause is his participation in the “corruption plot orchestrated” by the former deputy Juan Guaidowhich led to the “criminal blockade” of Venezuela and the “blatant dispossession” of the nation’s companies and wealth abroad.

It refers to the cases of the expropriation of the state company Citgo by the US and the removal of control of the Venezuelan State from its company monomer in Colombia –now returned by President Petro–, to prevent the arrival of vaccines, to block funds from Venezuela abroad and to cause massive migration of the population by having requested sanctions against the country.

The measure was criticized by the president of Colombia, Gustavo Petro: “No administrative authority should take away political rights.” The condemnation also came from the US from the State Department spokesman, Matthew Miller: “Today’s decision deprives the Venezuelan people of basic political rights.” The same did the Organization of American States (OAS): “This decision is arbitrary and contrary to the rule of law. It violates elementary political and civil rights, including those stipulated in Article 23 of the American Convention on Human Rights regarding the right to elect and be elected,” said the Secretariat General of the organization.

In 2005, this pre-candidate with business lineage had an extensive meeting with the president of the United States George W. Bush -while conspiring for new coup attempts- and about the upcoming Spanish elections he declared: “We have great allies in Spain who have been allies of democracy and freedom. I have great friends in the PP and Vox. I believe that Spain will strengthen institutionality, democracy, and integrity as a nation.” She is a fanatical anti-communist who was part of the 2002 coup, an event that has marked Venezuelan politics, which means that it is always played on “marshy ground.” .

Machado was a presidential candidate in the Venezuelan right wing in 2012 where she lost with 3.7% of the vote. Some see her as an “iron lady” over Margaret Thatcher that she was never prone to political negotiation, not even with the right-wing parties.

Last week, during a political event in the hometown of Hugo Chavez –Sabaneta– defiantly declared: “I think Chávez would have had, you know what, to confront and measure himself against me. I think Chávez would have done it.” He also said that Maduro is afraid and challenged him to face her at the polls. “Now they have given us all kinds of obstacles… The candidate who is going to face Maduro is the one who wins the primaries. If I win, it will be me; if another wins, it will be that other. What we are not going to accept is for the regime to choose.”

In 2004, Machado led the collection of signatures to achieve a recall referendum against Hugo Chávez, a right that was granted. The president won by 59% of the votes in favor. The process was audited by the Center Jimmy Carter who declared that the elections were impeccable. However, the opposition, led by Machado, did not accept the results, an attitude that he repeated in almost all subsequent important elections –except those he managed to win– such as the plebiscite for a constitutional reform, which was rejected. Machado’s largest pool of votes is in Miranda, the capital state where she was born: in 2010 she obtained 85% of the votes there as a candidate for deputy.

The other candidate with possibilities

The best-known presidential candidate among the 14 who ran is Henrique capriles radonski from the Primero Justicia party, defeated by Hugo Chávez shortly before he died in 2012 and by Nicolás Maduro in 2013 in an election remembered because the loser denounced fraud without evidence and called for a rebellion that ended with seven Chavistas shot to death while celebrating the victory.

He was also the protagonist of the coup in 2002 when President Chávez was at the height of his popularity: Capriles invaded the Cuban embassy in Caracas using a ladder with the aim of “stopping” Chavista ministers.

The great controversy over Capriles’ current candidacy lies in the fact that in 2017 he was disabled electorally by the Comptroller General of the Republic until 2032 accused of accepting donations, contracting without bidding when he was mayor of Baruta and not presenting the budget bill in 2013.

If he wins the internal one, unless there is some political negotiation, he will not be able to stand in the presidential election. The president of Primero Justicia, Maria Beatriz Martinezdeclared that they will do “whatever is necessary” to defend Capriles’ right to participate, betting on a “rectification” so that the presidential elections have recognition and legitimacy.

an uncertain path

In the electoral panorama, it seems that Chavismo maintains its historical base – well below the ceiling reached by Hugo Chávez – and the opposition is weakened and discredited among its own voters. Its two main figures –Capriles and Machado- have worn out after two decades of clumsiness, illegality and political ineffectiveness. It would not be impossible that in the time remaining until the elections a candidate appears outside the two Venezuelan political blocs: the one who intends to occupy that space is a popular comedian named Benjamin Rausseoalready in campaign.

Everything is complex and confusing in Venezuelan politics, starting from an opposition that almost never recognized Chavismo as the adversary, but rather an enemy to be destroyed at any cost, even when Hugo Chávez had the 70% popularity. There is not among them a renewal of figures or a change in the extreme political positions that have been muddying Venezuelan politics for two decades, where everyone plays kicking.

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