The Venezuelan opposition is reorganized and announces primaries to choose a new leader | International

Supporters of different political parties opposed to the national government attend a press conference.
Supporters of different political parties opposed to the national government attend a press conference.MIGUEL GUTIERREZ (EFE)

The Venezuelan opposition – renamed the Unitarian Platform – has announced its intention to call primary elections among all its factions in order to choose a leader who can take on the political challenges that lie ahead in its struggle with Chavismo. On everyone’s horizon are the next presidential elections in 2024. This citizen consultation would be planned for the beginning of 2023.

The announcement is made in a context of “refoundation” of this political field, which includes a new internal operating regulation, new responsibilities and areas of work among its members. An important part of the work sessions that made the agreements possible were discussed in Panama. Among the most notorious decisions internally, the so-called G-4, controlled by the largest opposition parties, gives way to an expanded leadership where minority parties enter, ten in total.

The parties that make up the Unitary Platform – Democratic Action, First Justice, Popular Will, Un Nuevo Tiempo, Encuentro Ciudadano, Causa Radical, Proyecto Venezuela, among others – have announced the appointment of Omar Barboza, from Un Nuevo Tiempo, as their new executive secretary. , a position that has a deliberate administrative and logistical profile. Gerardo Blyde has been ratified as the head of the Mexican Delegation, within the framework of the political dialogue with Chavismo.

Barboza, 77, is an experienced Social Democratic leader who has held various important responsibilities in the network of opposition party alliances over the years. He is a moderate line operator known for his capacity for negotiation and internal articulation, somewhat reluctant to media overexposure. His fundamental task is to organize the primary elections. Although behind closed doors his appointment has aroused consensus, his appointment has been received lukewarmly and skeptically by public opinion.

“The united struggle has as its fundamental objective to achieve political change, understanding that it is the only true way to stop the suffering of millions of Venezuelans,” it is stated in a statement from the Platform, in which a “wide and comprehensive” citizen consultation is promised. inclusive”.

The opposition alliance lands with these agreements at a moment in which its internal differences regarding the procedure against the Chavista autocracy have acquired an almost systemic character. At this time there are many accusations and criticisms for having been incapable of defeating Chavismo, and alternative organizations have emerged with their own horizons, severed from its umbrella.

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The seriousness of the internal situation of the opposition, however, has allowed the talks to recompose the convening capacity of the democratic forces to acquire an urgent character. At the head of the most intransigent and radicalized sector of the opposition, María Corina Machado, from Vente Venezuela, has varied her speech to some degree, expressing her willingness to measure herself against her competitors, not necessarily to choose a candidate, but yes, as she has stated , to have “a new leader” who faces the circumstances and knows how to make decisions. Juan Guaidó himself has announced the relaunch of the Platform as good news.

There are also other political formations that criticize the now called Unitarian Platform for wanting to monopolize anti-Chavista sentiment to the exclusion of other factors. David Uzcátegui, from Fuerza Vecinal – an emerging organization, tolerated by Chavismo, which is gaining political space in the regions in recent times – lamented that this decision came too late. “We have proposed open primaries as a method since last year. Had they done so, the opposition would have won 15 governorships and more than 250 mayorships. Unfortunately, factors of the opposition itself prevented that consultation. This year we have again proposed primaries, but not sectarian primaries, but inclusive ones, which allow all Venezuelans who want to get out of this government disaster to participate, wherever they come from, even if they are Chavistas. The Unitary Platform has underestimated the alternative forces. Only united will we defeat Chavismo, the experience of Barinas is a lesson”.

Eglee González Lobato, a political scientist and academic at the Central University of Venezuela, points out that “the general disaffection with politics, especially among young people, must be viewed with great care.” “It is expressed in a crisis of representativeness. The so-called Interim Government has proven to be incapable, the conduct of the political elite of the democratic parties has been a source of dissatisfaction. That Platform has up to 50 parties, with a leadership of 10, many of which have no electoral expression of any kind. They are heads of elites, who are sometimes avoiding regional and emerging leaderships”, he denounces.

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