The representatives of the alternative forces of Venezuela intend to abandon the strategy of boycotting the electoral process, which they have adhered to for several years. The bloc of the largest opposition parties “United Platform” announced that it would take part in the regional election on November 21. Who will be the leader of the Venezuelan opposition this time? Should we expect global changes in this Latin American country?
On November 21, Venezuela will host regional elections for heads of local executive power, as well as for deputies of regional and municipal representative bodies. For the first time in the past three years, the opposition decided to move away from its tactics of “boycotting” the electoral process. After Nicolas Maduro (Spanish – Nicolás Maduro Moros) won the presidential election in 2018, the alternative forces ignored the electoral processes, claiming that their outcome was predetermined in any case.
Nevertheless, on August 31, the coalition of alternative forces “United Platform of Venezuela” (Spanish – Plataforma Unitaria de Venezuela) officially announced that it intends to join the battle for the electorate. In a statement, the “United Platform” emphasized that they made this decision in order to “motivate the Venezuelan people”. The opposition hopes that the upcoming election will help arrive at a national consensus, as well as free presidential and parliamentary election.
It is worth recalling that the “United Platform” coalition consists of four parties, including the party of Juan Guaidó (Spanish – Juan Gerardo Guaidó Márquez) “Popular Will” (Spanish – Voluntad Popular, VP) and the political alliance of the former Governor of Miranda State Henrique Capriles (Spanish – Henrique Capriles Radonski) “For Justice” (Spanish – Primero Justicia, PJ). The member of the “Popular Will” party has been known to the world community since the beginning of 2019, when in January, amid prolonged protests against the current government, he proclaimed himself head of state. Then it was recognized by the United States, Canada and a number of European states. Later, with the direct participation of Juan Guaido, a series of attempts was prepared to put an end to the regime of the President Nicolas Maduro, including through a military “scenario”. Despite this, the Maduro government managed to retain power, and Guaido’s rating began to gradually fall. According to a number of experts, the activist is unlikely to be able to unite the opposition in the upcoming elections.
Turning to the two most prominent opposition leaders, it is worth dwelling on each of them. As for Juan Guaido, according to the Venezuelan political scientist, rector of the University of Caracas (Spanish – Universidad de Caracas, Unexca), Ali Rojas Olaya (Spanish – Alí Ramón Rojas Olaya), he is definitely not a leader and never was, Guaido did not enjoy much support among the population. The Spanish researcher José Antonio Egido believes that Guaido’s strength came from the fact that he was proclaimed the “head” of Venezuela by the ex-US President Donald Trump (English – Donald John Trump) and his adviser John Bolton (English – John Robert Bolton II) in 2019. However, according to Egido, this activist has never enjoyed the support of the majority of the population. In fact, he was elected MP in the state of Vargas in 2015 with a vote of 30,000 citizens and thus became the second-largest MP in this constituency. It is noteworthy to compare such positions with the 8 million votes that Nicolas Maduro received in the election in 2018.
Another leader of the alternative forces in Venezuela is the former Governor of Miranda State Henrique Capriles, who has always called on the opposition to participate in election, being a much more compromise figure than, for example, Guaido. It is also interesting that all experts agree that the participation of the opposition “United Platform” in the upcoming elections may become an extremely successful scenario for Nicholas Maduro himself, because now he has an argument in favor of the fact that the political system in the country is functioning, and through democratic instruments. As for the outcome of the elections, political analysts believe that it is too early to talk about global changes in the Latin American country. Nevertheless, it is worth expecting some updates.
An additional factor that influenced the political alignment of forces in Venezuela was the talks between the opposition and the government launched in August this year. In Mexico, with the assistance of Norway on August 13, the parties have already managed to conclude a Memorandum of Understanding. The alternative forces and the incumbent government of Venezuela agreed on the need to ensure respect for political rights, lifting sanctions, non-violence, protecting the economy and the possibility of democratic participation in elections. In addition, the parties agreed on the issue of ratifying and protecting the sovereignty of territories along the left bank of the Essequibo River, which is controlled by Guyana, and agreed to channel foreign assets of the country upon their return to health care. The process participants met again in Mexico on September 3-6 and agreed that the next round of negotiations would be held in Mexico City from September 24-27.
Last week, Nicolas Maduro already officially announced that his delegation intends to demand the lifting of economic sanctions (including against state oil) imposed by the United States against Venezuela more than three years ago. As the incumbent president noted in his statement, the authorities will present a plan that will contain all the necessary conditions for the restoration of the Venezuelan economy. The participants in the negotiation process from the opposition plan, first, to discuss the upcoming presidential elections, which will be held in 2024, and to achieve the release of political prisoners.
Today, the political situation in Venezuela resembles a “pendulum” that froze in anticipation. First, Juan Guaidó’s participation in the negotiation process that has begun primarily reflects the recognition by the international community of the legitimacy of the Maduro government, as well as the possibility of creating conditions for the new leadership of the US and the EU to lift economic sanctions from the Latin American country. It is worth noting that at present the opposition is scattered and has not yet developed a unified position, therefore, the initiative has now been intercepted by the current government.
As for Maduro, the negotiations were a lucrative opportunity for him to demonstrate that he managed to retain power in the country. On the other hand, for the alternative forces, it is a way to change tactics and strengthen positions in the political arena of Venezuela. However, in any case, the dialogue between the warring parties can become the first step towards the reconstruction of the country, which has been experiencing a protracted structural crisis for the past several years.