A dilemma in the Venezuelan opposition

A dilemma in the Venezuelan opposition

“Amen,” Nicolas Maduro said in a papal tone when the National Electoral Council, a body not independent of the Miraflores Palace, announced that on July 28, Venezuelans should go to the polls to elect a president. “We are heading towards a big win,” he predicted. Maduro has been in power since March 2013, after the death of Hugo Chavez.

He won two controversial elections. In 2013, the opposition questioned the result, and an internal conflict broke out that did not stop. Five years later, most parties abstained from participating in the competition.

Maduro's opponents are once again facing a dilemma: either leave the electoral process because their candidate, María Corina Machado, has been disqualified, or find a new standard-bearer, and try to win against the government on their own turf, despite the difficulties. And with their own special cards. Supporters of the second alternative rely on the Chilean experience, when the opposition defeated General Augusto Pinochet in 1988 in a popular consultation of their own, and they aspire to its continuity.

The unitary platform (PU) does not have much time to solve the problem. By order of the National Elections Commission, the names of candidates must be submitted within 20 days.

Mature, unanimously

The United Socialist Party of Venezuela is scheduled to meet on March 15 to announce Maduro's announcement by a show of hands. Diosdado Cabello, the second-in-command in Maduro's government, said, “I am absolutely sure that this will be done by consensus. I have no doubt about that, because people are aware of the huge effort that the comrade is making, in the fight against attacks, sanctions and blockades.”

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Machado, who was marginalized on charges of collusion with the failed “responsible president” Juan Guaido, ruled out being replaced as representative of the National Union after winning the primaries in which two million citizens participated. He said: “Listen to me, you who are talking about an alternative, I have a surprise for you. Yes, there is an alternative here, the person who will replace Nicolas Maduro, and that is me.”

Arguing with Lola

The leader of Fente Venezuela has just entered into a controversy with the Brazilian President, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who spoke in front of his Spanish colleague Pedro Sanchez about the nature of the elections in the neighboring country. He added, “Venezuela needs democratic elections to be able to regain space in international forums and see the end of the American blockade.” He recalled his own experience in 2018 when he was excluded from the competition and taken to prison by order of Judge Sergio Moro as part of a case that would be overturned four years later. “I did not cry, I looked for another candidate,” he said, referring to Fernando Haddad, who lost to Jair Bolsonaro.

Machado was angry: “I'm crying, President Lula? Are you saying that because I'm a woman? You don't know me.” He added: “You support the attacks of a tyrant who violates the constitution. The only truth is that Maduro is afraid to confront me because he knows that the Venezuelan people are in the streets with me.”

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The clock is ticking and the PU, as well as other parties, no longer have much room to operate. The United States once again asked Latin American countries to redouble its pressure so that the government lifts the ban on Machado and respects the Barbados agreements reached last October that aim to make the elections inclusive and competitive.

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