Caracas, February 21, 2022 (OrinocoTribune.com)—Today, during an interview with Venezuelan journalist Mari Pili Hernández at Union Radio network, Bernabe Gutiérrez, the president of Democratic Action (AD), announced that this year —probably in the month of March—his political party will hold internal elections. Democratic Action has gone more than 20 years without this process, a basic expression of democracy within any organization. Two Democratic Action factions developed after a split within the party, and in June 2020 Venezuela’s Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ) determined that Bernabe Gutiérrez would be the president of the historic Democratic Action party.
“For more than 20 years there has not been an internal electoral process, a consultation with our base, and I have the constitutional mandate to carry it out,” said Gutiérrez during the interview. “Therefore, there will be reconciliation between the national leadership of the party that I preside over, and the base will have the opportunity to confirm its registration in AD and participate in the process.”
Gutiérrez, elected as a National Assembly deputy in 2020, said that the Democratic Action party faction led by Henry Ramos Allup can participate as long as it confirms its members in a re-enrollment process that will be open prior to the internal elections. Gutiérrez explained that those who ratify their AD membership will be included on the lists of those authorized to elect national, state, and municipal authorities of the organization.
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Hoy conversaré con la destacada periodista @marypilih en su programa #SinDuda, sobre el presente y futuro de #AcciónDemocrática, del próximo CDN a realizarse en marzo y de diversos temas de interés nacional por @Unionradionet #ManosALaObra pic.twitter.com/ZPrbkFecxO
— Bernabé Gutiérrez (@adbernabe) February 21, 2022
Last weekend, several reports circulated on social media platforms announcing an alleged negotiation between representatives of Gutiérrez and Allup. Gutiérrez repeatedly denied that he is seeking to “negotiate” with the faction led by Henry Ramos Allup and Carlos Prosperi, to end the division within the Democratic Action party.
On June 2020, the Constitutional Chamber of the TSJ admitted and decreed a precautionary measure of constitutional protection consisting of suspending the National Directorate of Democratic Action. According to judgment No. 0071-2020, sponsored by the president of the aforementioned chamber, Justice Juan José Mendoza Jover, an ad hoc Board of Directors was appointed to carry out the necessary restructuring process of AD, chaired by citizen Bernabé Gutiérrez, and made up of a President, a National General Secretary and a National Organization Secretary to fulfill the managerial and representative functions of the party, as well as the designation of regional, municipal and local authorities.
Regarding the alleged negotiation, Gutiérrez had this to say: “A negotiation between two or three people would be turning its back on the party members, who have the right to select its directors—national, state, and municipal. I do not have a representative to carry out hidden negotiations, excluding members. My negotiation and reconciliation is with the base through internal elections.”
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Gutiérrez indicated that the AD National Directive Committee will designate an internal electoral committee that will organize the elections after reforming the party’s statutes. He announced that they will request support from the National Electoral Council (CNE) which, despite the political divisiveness in Venezuela, is seen as a reliable referee for this type of electoral process.
“If Ramos Allup wants to participate, fine,” Gutiérrez said. “He must fully comply with the requirements established in the new statute. I cannot deny any member their willingness to participate , but whoever believes that they can stop the internal process is mistaken. It will be done when the National Steering Committee convenes it, and all the adecos (Democratic Action adherents) will have a place.”
A few minutes later, Ramos Allup’s ally, Carlos Prosperi, called Mari Pili Hernández and was put on the air to detail the position of their AD faction. Prosperi stressed that their group has the support of Democratic Action’s members, but that they will not participate in the internal elections about to be called by Bernabe Gutiérrez. Prosperi justified this decision based on the lack of transparency in the announced re-enrollment process, and recommended that AD use the party electoral roll validated by the CNE in 2018.
Journalist Mari Pili Hernández questioned the political activist about his statements, and asked him why, if they allegedly have the support of the AD majority, they are not going to participate? To her this decision seemed illogical. Prosperi insisted that Gutiérrez’s control of the enrolment process would affect their faction’s chances of truly achieving proper representation in the upcoming internal elections. Hernández did not sound convinced by these seemingly counterproductive arguments, which will not help AD present a solid opposition option for the 2024 Venezuelan presidential race.
Democratic Action is one of the oldest political parties in Venezuela. Relegated to near-extinction during Hugo Chávez’s time, AD nevertheless remains a relevant political actor among opposition forces in Venezuela. Four of the recently elected opposition governors in Venezuela came, in one way or the other, from AD.
Featured image: Bernabe Gutiérrez (left) and Henry Ramos Allup (right) embracing each other. File photo.
Special for Orinoco Tribune by Jesús Rodríguez Espinoza
Jesús Rodríguez-Espinoza is an expert in international relations, Venezuelan politics and communication. He served for several years as Consul General of Venezuela in Chicago (United States) and prior to that he was part of the foundational editorial team of the website Aporrea.org. He is founder and editor of the Venezuelan independent and anti-imperialist website Orinoco Tribune.
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