- Boris Miranda (@ivanbor)
- BBC World News
The Venezuelan opposition loses its biggest trench: the National Assembly.
This Tuesday, Chavismo takes control of that state power after the December 6 elections, in which it prevailed almost without competition.
The Legislative was the only power in the hands of the opposition, which, however, considers last month’s elections fraudulent and therefore gives continuity to the five-year mandate that expires on Tuesday.
This, according to analysts, represents a consolidation of the power of the so-called Bolivarian revolution in the South American country and challenges the strategy led by Juan Guaidó to defeat the government of Nicolas Maduro.
Guaidó was proclaimed interim president of the country in January 2019 by virtue of his role as leader of Parliament, and received the support of more than 50 countries in the world.
And although the expiration of his mandate and the failure to achieve his objectives have detracted from him strength and influence, his leadership is not over, analysts say.
The triumph of 2015
In 2015, when opponents overwhelmingly triumphed in legislative elections, he was considered a historical fact.
To the point that more than one considered that these results were a prelude to an eventual defeat of Chavismo, led by Maduro after the death of Hugo Chávez in 2013.
However, almost the opposite happened.
The Supreme Court of Justice, always close to the ruling party, declared the Venezuelan parliament in contempt, which was left without the capacity to act.
And the Venezuelan ruling party rebuked its detractors by convening a plenipotentiary Constituent Assembly in 2017.
“The opposition opted for a strategy based on a wrong assumption: that Chavismo was going to be weaker and fragmented with Maduro,” explains the Venezuelan political scientist Ricardo Sucre.
The university professor indicates that in these years a collapse in government management was expected and that the detractors of the Bolivarian revolution placed too much hope on international pressure, fundamentally on that of the United States, the main supporter of Guaidó.
“That great political force, because in 2015 Maduro’s management was punished for its results, was an attempt to counterbalance. However, the government managed to coalesce to avoid being overthrown. The opponents confused the containment force that the people gave them with one of insurrection and that was the mistake, “he says.
In 2020, Chavismo regained the National Assembly in elections with a high level of abstention and the call for a boycott of the main opposition parties and leaders, as happened in the 2018 presidential elections, considering that there are no fair conditions for an electoral dispute .
Only 31% of eligible voters went to the polls, throwing more than 67% of electoral preference in favor of the ruling party.
What changes for Guaidó
While they controlled the National Assembly, the opposition propped up Juan Guaidó as their leader and even proclaimed him the country’s “president in charge” in January 2019.
That action achieved the recognition of more than fifty countries at the time and was the spearhead of one more offensive against the Maduro government, which they called a “usurper” since they did not recognize the re-election of the president in 2018.
Among his most aggressive actions was the February 2019 “humanitarian avalanche” in which Guaidó tried to enter Venezuela from Colombia with a convoy with tons of international donations.
In addition, members of the Venezuelan security forces were called to cross the border and star in massive contempt for the Bolivarian government.
The offensive failed and what happened was considered a setback to Guaidó’s leadership, which at that time had more than 60% popularity, according to polls.
Although he was unable to regain the prominence he had at that time, analyst Luis Vicente León considers that he cannot be considered a retired politician.
“It lost popularity, but it remains above the preference of Nicolás Maduro, for example. It is not that Guaidó ends as of January 5,” he says.
The expert highlights that the so-called “president in charge” is still the main opposition leader, although it will be more difficult for him to maintain the support he has at the level. international and the consensus formed around it is no longer the same.
“Now there are more opponents who challenge him the leadership because he has not yet finalized his proposal for change,” indicates León.
For example, in an interview with BBC Mundo a few days after the December 6 elections, another opposition leader such as Henrique Capriles He indicated that a “new strategy for the opposition” was necessary and pointed out that the cycle of the so-called “president in charge” had concluded.
For his part, Guaidó affirmed through his social networks that the new legislative period “will not be recognized.”
“The constitutional continuity of Parliament is not a whim. It is a citizen and patriotic duty to enforce and respect our Constitution as there was no election on December 6, “said the opposition leader on his Twitter account this Monday.
Guaidó assures that the National Assembly he presides “is not going to stop until we see free elections in Venezuela.”
Meanwhile, on Monday the United States Department of the Treasury issued a provision authorizing Americans to carry out financial operations with the Parliament chaired by Guaidó, whom they point to as the “current interim president” of Venezuela.
A reinforcement just the eve of the installation of the new Assembly.
BBC Mundo communicated on Monday with spokesmen for the opposition leader. However, there was no response to requests for interviews.
Politically, Chavismo can celebrate the deactivation of Guaidó as leader of the Assembly, which together with the replacement of Joe Biden by Donald Trump in Washington opens the possibility of changing relations and perhaps achieving a respite, although the new president of The United States has been equally determined against Maduro.
The Venezuelan president threatened Guaidó again a few days ago, who, despite his defiance, was never detained.
“That justice, now, in an iron manner, do its job” before “those alleged unconstitutional pretenses of self-proclaiming extensions of mandates that do not correspond,” said Maduro.
“The persecution is going to increase, but it is not going to stop us from continuing to demand our rights,” Guaidó told the BBC after the December 6 elections.
What changes for Chavismo
It is possible that with the change of command in Parliament, the pictures with the face of Hugo Chávez will return to the National Assembly.
“The situation of the country changes with a National Assembly different from the one that led to invasions,” celebrated the official Diosdado Cabello.
In search of income to alleviate the fall in dollars that came from oil, the government assures that in the Assembly it will finally be able to offer legal support to its economic policies, which go through an opening and a search for foreign investment.
But although it may gain some legitimacy to do business with companies from allied countries such as China and Russia, the fact that the United States and the European Union coincide with the opposition and do not recognize the elections will cause sanctions to continue and it will be denied access to international financing and oil markets.
But analysts consulted by BBC Mundo indicate that the government also has different challenges.
Ricardo Sucre indicates that regaining control of the National Assembly strengthens the so-called Bolivarian revolution, but that the scenario is different since its bases are no longer as cohesive as before.
“The population felt the cost of some bad administrations or acts of corruption,” he says.
While Luis Vicente León affirms that it is clear that there will be changes “on both sides.”
“The government is going to have the symbolic recovery of the hemicycle, but the opposition retains the support of 2015 from different countries such as United States, some from Europe and the Lima Group“, Explain.
That is why León argues that, despite the fact that the ruling party already controlled the country’s institutions, it will also have to deal with an opposition that, despite its internal fractures, still has enough support.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.