Saturday, May 21

Juan Guaidó opens up to critics to rebuild the front against Maduro in Venezuela | International

The opposition leader Juan Guaidó, during a rally in October last year.
The opposition leader Juan Guaidó, during a rally in October last year.FEDERICO PARRA / AFP

The leadership of the Venezuelan opposition debates the adjustments to the strategy against the regime of Nicolás Maduro after losing control of the National Assembly, the only institution he presided over. The new situation has forced the leaders Juan Guaidó and Leopoldo López to reach out to their critics to control damage. The leaders of the opposition Popular Will party insist that this is a decision taken to strengthen the unitary commitment. Guaidó this Thursday summoned Henrique Capriles, María Corina Machado and other estranged leaders to “respond to the last call of the country.”

The so-called Government Center coordinated by Leopoldo López (exiled in Spain), one of the supports of the national and international strategy of the Venezuelan opposition in these years, has become an expanded directorate, a political council made up of the democratic parties that They support Guaidó, who as the former head of the National Assembly was proclaimed interim president in 2019 and was recognized by almost 60 countries. The EU, which rejects the legitimacy of the Chavista Parliament arising from elections in which the opposition did not participate, has underlined its support for Guaidó’s leadership, although not as interim president, as the institutional basis for this is lacking. Most of the Venezuelan opposition maintains that the interim presidency will remain in office.

Both López and the party he leads, Voluntad Popular, henceforth lose some of the discretion in decisions, common in previous months, and are forced to open the field to critics under the commitment to establish consultative mechanisms.

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López, who has been intensifying his unitary discourse, thus responds to the requests of other actors in this alliance —Primero Justicia and its general coordinator, Julio Borges; as well as Acción Democrática—, particularly critical of their conduct in recent times. Their demands revolve around the obligation to discuss and approve collective decisions. Under this conditioned parameter, support will continue to be given to Juan Guaidó, and, at least formally, to the thesis of the administrative continuity of the renewal of the mandate of the National Assembly in 2015 for another year. Democratic Action, in fact, saved his vote by approving Guaidó as the figure of the “administrative continuity” of the Parliament elected in 2015, which has already finished his term. Some spokespersons for Primero Justicia even raised the possibility of replacing Guaidó with another member of the alliance who is a deputy, even weeks ago, indoors.

The decision of administrative continuity, which many consider politically justified by the political crisis in the country, has been harshly criticized in the legal field. For the constitutional lawyer Juan Rafalli, the measure formalizes “the end of the legitimacy of the entire government architecture of the country.” The formalization of the new opposition political council would mark the definitive end of the era of the slogan of “cessation of usurpation [del poder por Maduro], Transitional government, free elections ”, in force since 2019 at the moment of greatest momentum of Guaidó and López, with the support of the Donald Trump Administration.

Unitary platform

López seems aware that the efforts around him to avert the current situation “with a strategy for each board,” as he himself argues, are stagnant. He has decided to submit to the tutelage of his colleagues, protecting himself with the unitary discourse and preserving an unobjectionable political capital that has him well in the polls.

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The contents of the new opposition strategy remain a mystery. Some leaders argue that they are in full debate. Guaidó, for the moment, will be able to rely on the figure of the administrative continuity of the National Assembly, and try to advance the complex task of articulating internal and external support synchronously. “There are irreversible distances in the opposition unit, but it is clear that the leaders of the dissidence must adopt a unitary platform, a coordination center that makes an alliance with civil society, and that maintains a distance from the electoral world without ceasing to make claims” says political analyst Pedro Benítez.

Although there is much reluctance to recognize it, the new political council will have to review the options of the democratic forces at this time, including the possibility of opening conversations that allow the improvement of electoral conditions by Chavismo in future scenarios.

In the so-called G4 (which brings together the four main opposition formations) the firm decision not to attend any election under the current terms is very much alive, but at the same time regional pressure groups, leaders of each State, politicians are growing. Aspiring mayors who insist on giving a new interpretation to the decision not to vote at a time when the electoral credibility and drag of Chavismo is weakened.

The political council could serve Henrique Capriles, a leader very critical of Guaidó and López’s strategy, to put on the table his thesis of fighting for an improvement in electoral participation, even if it is partial.

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