By Clodovaldo Hernandez
Corruption scandals have unleashed the internal war in the already battered Venezuelan opposition, one month ahead of the National Assembly (in contempt) Presidential election for the last year of its term.
This is particularly important because it is a position that, according to the (il)legal framework that was set up in January, should be accompanied by the status of “President in charge of the Republic.”
In just a few hours an internecine fight has developed between opposing factions in which the common factor is the accusations of irregularities against public funds and the intention of both to assume the role of judges, when in reality they are also allegedly involved.
Calderón Berti versus Guaidó
The facts denounced show almost all the opposing subgroups as participants in the feast of easy wealth irregularly obtained.
The dismissal of the representative of Juan Guaidó in Bogotá (ambassador, according to the nomenclature used by the parallel government, its international allies and the right-wing media) led to the reaction of the veteran COPEI leader. His explosive press conference ratified what government spokesmen and media such as La Tabla had denounced: the shameless looting of the Monómeros petrochemical company and the humanitarian aid funds corresponding to the so-called “Cucutazo.”
He also confirmed what opposition media figures had said about it, including journalists and influencers and even Bishop Mario Moronta.
The accusations directly touch Guaidó, his political boss, Leopoldo López, and the clique that controls the structure of the interim presidency, in complicity with the government of the United States and those of the Lima group, particularly that of Colombia.
With his complaint, Calderón Berti strikes at some of his rivals in the Colombian enclave, particularly those who participated in the shameful events of Cúcuta. At the same time he tried to get out of the foul vapor that the Monomeros case, but at that point he does not have it easy because there are very firm indications that this was a “business” in which he, as an oil expert, had a lot of responsibility, by action or by omission.
Calderón Berti was criticized in the networks and media because the events with which he supports his allegations occurred a long time ago, but he only made them public after being dismissed: the classic conduct of corrupt politicians from the Fourth and Fifth Republic.
The parallel complaint
In parallel (coincidence?) A journalistic investigation that links deputies of the National Assembly (of several parties) with alleged irregularities related to imports for the Local Supply and Production Committees (CLAP) came to light. That other block of complaints allowed Guaidó to present himself as a promoter of a strict investigation and the two main parties of the clique (Popular Will and Justice First) as champions of the fight against corruption, by applying early sanctions against some of the parliamentarians implicated.
In reality, it is a damage control strategy that has two components: on the one hand, try to attack the internal adversary and, at the same time, divert attention to the government, to show that it is the promoter of all criminal activities of this nature.
Strictly speaking, rather than assuming the role of prosecutor, judge or executioner, Guaidó would have to answer for the facts in which he himself is indicated (among them not only Monomeros, but also Citgo and PDVSA 2020) and for the corresponding responsibility for not paying attention to the complaints that, according to Calderón, were raised in due course.
The loss of anti-corruption discourse
The swamp in which the different opposition groups are splashing means the loss of one of their main speeches against of the Bolivarian government: the fight against corruption.
This loss affects its own public and some neutral fields, since in Chavismo it has always been clear that [the opposition] is a political class fundamentally guided by economic interests and the desire for personal enrichment.
Between anti-Chavistas and ni-nis (apolitical people), this collapse is serious, as the discourse of anti-corruption loses almost all its meaning. The conviction is established that the opposition is the same or worse, in that respect, than Chavismo.
Many militants of the opposition base are particularly offended because they have made personal efforts to help a cause that is now fraudulent. They are also very indignant to be obliged to recognize that some government spokesmen were right when they said that Guaidó and his clique of “ambassadors” and commissioners were filling their pockets, while the common anti-Chavista people suffered the hardships resulting from sanctions and the economic blockade managed by those leaders.
The indirect shot against the CLAP
The counter-offensive of the clique to the accusations of Calderón Berti has a lateral objective: to attack again the most successful social program of recent times, the direct delivery of food to the population through the CLAP program.
Several political and media actors have been devoted to that effort since the plan began, in response to the economic war and the first ravages generated by unilateral coercive measures.
It is a strategic effort for the opposition because CLAP, with all the criticisms it may deserve, has cushioned the terrible damage that the US government and the opposition leadership planned against the Venezuelan population in order to provoke social outbursts, a purpose openly recognized by the main spokesmen in Washington on several occasions.
Through its coercive measures, the US has tried to prevent the government from importing products, blackmailing potential suppliers in many countries and persecuting any company or individual participating in the program. In that context, the allegations of corruption that have arisen are presented as a reason to torpedo the program and eventually have it suspended.
With your sights on January 5
For Guaidó, it is essential to get rid of these episodes more or less in good standing, since on January 5 the AN must vote to elect its directive and he aspires to be reelected, and thus maintain the role he has held this year, of “president in charge”.
Given the structural weight of the economic component in the political behavior of the various opposing factors, it is to be presumed that there is a subtle division between those who were favored with great privileges and those who received little or nothing.
In that perverse correlation of forces, another variable will have to be included: those that will go unpunished and those that will remain as scapegoats. All this will influence the decision of January 5. Any resemblance to a mafia organization is coincidence.
Translated by JRE/