An analysis by Ociel Alí López, revised by Maria Müller
In Venezuela today, without exception, all opposition organizations are experiencing a true political thaw. This is reflected in the growing number of pre-candidates for the upcoming presidential elections in 2024.
After the “interim government” of “interim president” Juan Guaidó collapsed like a house of cards and former US President Donald Trump’s strategy towards Venezuela faltered, all right-wing parties are now ready to hold elections again.
End of the overthrow strategy – end of a stage?
Juan Guaidó’s self-appointment as President in January 2019 and his immediate recognition by most Western states culminated in a script coordinated by OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro. Under his direction, almost the entire opposition in the country had sworn in to the scenario of a violent government overthrow. The consequences were numerous casualties among the civilian population and serious destruction by vandalizing gangs as well as acts of sabotage of the country’s infrastructure.
These negative experiences and the sterile attitude towards elections in recent years meant that the right-wing opposition lost practically all of its political clout. Their strategy paved the way for President Nicolás Maduro’s re-election in 2018 and for his ruling party to win regional and local elections and parliament.
The reversal of right-wing parties
The small far-right Voluntad Popular (VP) party, which – thanks to Washington’s support – had placed itself at the head of the Venezuelan opposition, is now ready to turn out again. The party, led by Leopoldo López from exile, has been mobilizing its supporters against the “political path” since 2014 and dared to envision a military coup. The uprising was rehearsed on April 30, 2019 and failed miserably. So did the attempt at a US military invasion, which was part of the repertoire of then-President Donald Trump.
The López party VP was the major lynchpin of this operation, but had already re-recognized the existing institutional system in the November 2021 regional elections. There was no public self-criticism. The Vente Venezuela (VV) party, led by the far-right María Corina Machado, also recently announced that it wants to “compete in the coming elections.” It will have to do this within the framework of institutions such as the National Electoral Council (CNE), which it still does not recognize. This was the last bastion of an extremely destructive epoch for Venezuela.
María Corina is the daughter of one of the richest historical families in Venezuela. She has labeled opponents within the opposition who took part in the last election as “weaklings” and “collaborators”.
In the midst of this change of scenery, Leopoldo López, a leader of the “strategy of breaking with the Chavista institutions”, preferred to push for demonstrations against the communications company Telefónica in Madrid in mid-July. Allegedly, the company supported the government of President Nicolás Maduro in “censoring press media” and “spying on telephone conversations”. López’s current agenda has more to do with trying to position himself as an international leader, which has taken him to several countries and conferences. Mainly because his hopes of moving into Caracas triumphantly, at least in the medium term, have evaporated.
The end of the insurgent road
The change in the ranks of Venezuela’s right-wing opposition is mainly due to the growing expectations since the founding of a renewed political alliance “United Platform” (PU). Omar Barboza was elected Executive Secretary of the Alliance. She wants to bring together the main opposition parties and organize primary elections in January 2023.
So far, all of these sectors of the traditional right have declared that they favor internal elections, despite the fact that their political representatives – like those mentioned above – have been disqualified by the Supreme Court.
Dissidents in the ranks of the opposition
Key dissident leaders and party structures within the opposition, including former presidential candidate Henry Falcón, also want to face internal primaries. You have always defended this path. Some also launched their candidatures outside the PU, as in the case of Bernabé Gutiérrez of Acción Democrática (Democratic Action) and Antonio Ecarri of the Alianza de Lapicera (Alliance of Pens – which advocates fundamental reform of education).
The current governor of Zulia, Manuel Rosales, the former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles, the leader of Acción Democrática, Carlos Prosperi, or Juan Pablo Guanipa of Primero Justicia have also accepted primaries.
Juan Guaidó is trying to return
For his part, Juan Guaidó winks at “dissident Chavismo” and openly shows solidarity with a Chavista current against the ruling party. After several of his turbulent attempts to resurface in Venezuelan areas, he used the arrest of Ángel Castillo, a member of the Venezuelan Communist Party (PCV), after a protest by public employees. But the PCV rejects any attempt at rapprochement. She has repeatedly called for Guaidó to be jailed for numerous crimes, including an attempted coup and theft of public funds.
The transition to a left counter-movement?
The above demonstration was led by trade unions and left-wing organizations and raised wage issues. It was the biggest in recent times and expressed that the radical right-wing opposition is losing control of street protests and demonstrations.
The mobilization on the streets is currently being coordinated and promoted by traditional trade unions, left-wing organizations and critical Chavismo. This raises the possibility of a change in the Venezuelan opposition. It may mean that a different kind of counter-movement, not traditionally right-wing, will take hold.
Nicolás Maduro’s government is currently trying to break through the restrictions imposed by the sanctions of the USA and the EU and to initiate a new economic development in Venezuela. It aims at improved industrialization, agricultural production and self-sufficiency. Maduro wants to attract international investment through economic alliances, especially with OPEC member states. It is obvious that in the course of this development, social measures and the wage gap also fall under the competitive conditions of capitalist “investments”. The current shocks to the global economy are also affecting Venezuela. Nevertheless, international business agencies predict high growth. The socialist governing party PSUV certainly faces the challenge of performing a political balancing act (continued?) while keeping its own ideological principles alive.
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Translation from Spanish.
Ociel Ali Lopez is a sociologist, political scientist and professor at the Central University of Venezuela. He was the winner of the 2015 City Literature Prize with his book Give More Gasoline and the 2004 Clacso/Asdi Prize for Young Researchers. He is a contributor to various media outlets in Europe, the United States and Latin America.
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