By Jesus Inojosa – Sep 9, 2020
The parliamentary elections have posed a dilemma for the Venezuelan right that is committed to a reshaping based on its participation in this process, which will give life to the new National Assembly for the period 2021-2025.
Along the way of this commitment to the democratic path, they find themselves with the diatribe of what to do with the extremist sector that refuses to participate. With Juan Guaidó at its head, it relies on the continuity of an insurrectional plan with no end, repeating the dilemma presented in 2015, the electoral year where the possibility of going to the elections or not after the failure in 2014 of the guarimbero led by Leopoldo López of Voluntad Popular and María Corina Machado, was debated
“When on that occasion it was possible to propose that there should be a demarcation with Popular Will and with María Corina, the idea spread that we are all united holding hands against the government that is our common enemy and that had the disastrous consequence that, being inside MUD extremism, (Table of Democratic Unity) immediately at every opportunity that they could, extremist outbreaks reappeared and made everything more complicated in particular after having won in 2015,” recalled the anti-Chavista political analyst and former member of this alliance, opposition member Enrique Ochoa Antich, in an interview with Últimas Noticias.
The MUD was the political platform that allowed the triumph of all the factors of the Venezuelan opposition in the National Assembly (AN) that after five years led by extremist options, left in its wake the promise to remove the President of the Republic , Nicolás Maduro in a period of six months and the promotion of the recall referendum at the wrong time in 2016; the inapplicable dismissal of the head of state for “abandonment of office”, a journey to request “sanctions” and the guarimbas in 2017; the ignorance of the presidential elections in 2018 and the self-proclamation of its president Juan Guaidó in command of an “interim government” in 2019.
“These have been five lost years for the country. We have lost all our senses. We have lost political institutions and at the same time the quality of life of Venezuelans has plummeted to the bottom as a result of an irrational political confrontation, because unfortunately the opposition sector that won the AN did not understand its responsibilities, its role and dedicated itself to carry out a totally stupid insurrection that from the first day was sentenced to death,” political scientist Carlos Raúl Hernandez said in conversation with Últimas Noticias.
The empowerment of the extremist agenda within the opposition had its apex with the arrival of Donald Trump to the presidency of the United States, who saw in this sector a proposal for the overthrow of the Maduro government in harmony with his immediate and radical political vision.
“In the midst of all this, Trump appears who has a hegemonist vision, who understands the Monroe doctrine that America (the continent) belongs to the United States (…) and a part of the opposition is very submissive, very much a lackey of the empire, ended up feeling that it could associate with the the US to search, perhaps some thinking of [using] a threat and that with that threat the government was going to give in because of sanctions and everything else, and another perhaps thinking of an invasion, but I do believe that the presence of the United States has done a lot of damage to the leadership,” said Ochoa.
The extremist agenda saw its most far-reaching moment with the arrival of Juan Guaidó to the presidency of the AN, considering the implementation, with Trump’s unconditional support, of a violent and mercenary insurrectional strategy that ruined the reality of the country as evidenced by the attempted border invasion with “humanitarian aid” on February 23, the coup on April 30, both in 2019, and the attempted maritime incursion with the use of mercenaries on May 3, 2020.
“Trump and that group of pseudo-leaders were absolutely alienating, without any connection to the country, spoke for each other and fed each other. Some told lies and the other believed them, and one gave the money and the other kept inventing lies. In the end, this has been an insurrectionary comedy, because all this that we saw from the 2019 until now, even before, in 2017, in 2018, they have all been insurrectional comedies,” said Hernández who also added that, even if a victory was gained by the current US president in the November elections, the strategy towards Venezuela will change.
“I believe that the disaster they made here is a very big disaster for the United States, because the Trump administration threw Venezuela, which was a strategic ally of the United States, into the arms of China and Russia and that is already irreversible. That will not change. That is a responsibility that the Gringos themselves have and that is why I believe that the strategy will not be the same,” he said.
Elections mark the end
After five years, the electoral scenario in Venezuela has presented a new opportunity to rethink the political game that in the last five years has been marked by confrontation, violence and the flagrant intervention in the Venezuelan internal agenda by Trump’s government.
“In these elections, the cycle of dementia of all these five years ends and there will simply be a new leadership, a new political party and all those conflictive and insurrectionary ingredients will quickly disappear from the Venezuelan scene,” Hernández predicted, an opinion shared by Ochoa.
“What one observes as a positive thing is that both extremes, both the radical extreme of the opposition and the perpetuationist extreme in the government have yielded, it seems that moderate sectors at both extremes begin to understand that a meeting in the democratic center is needed by the country,” said Ochoa.
Unity without extremists
As Enrique Ochoa Antich already revealed, the opposition’s dilemma regarding the inescapable demarcation of extremist groups had already been discussed in 2014 without success, so his bet is that this election, regardless of its results, will result in the emergence of a new opposition.
“I am confident that once these elections take place, the opposition that is in the National Assembly, even though it is a minority, will regroup, will unify and will draw a line that will lead to success sooner rather than later, because after the parliamentarian ones come more elections: municipal, the regional and governors will be won, mayors will be won and then the presidential in 2024,” he considered.
But this unity of the forces that distance themselves from extremism has not been achieved in the face of the parliamentary electoral process, as shown by the launching of candidates in each of the opposition political organizations, there is only one alliance that brings together two traditional parties (AD and Copei), two others of recent date (AP and El Cambio) and one recently created (Cambiemos), a mirror that according to Hernández reflects the absence of leadership.
“What they don’t have is leadership and then everyone has their partisan aspirations and they don’t see, that is, they see the trees and they don’t see the forest, but as for example you can say anything about Chávez, but Chávez managed that at a negotiation table where their were factors of the most different positions, and that possibly wanted to killed each other, yet there was a leadership that led them to victory, but in this case no one is capable of agreeing, no one is capable of making a consensus, no one is able to tolerate whoever is next to him and you can’t do politics that way,” he explained.
The role of the government
Faced with this “self-destruction of the opposition” scenario, both Hernández and Ochoa consider that the role of the government is fundamental to guarantee the inescapable extinction of the extremist right and the emergence of a political environment where the premises of peace prevail, respect for the laws and the defense of sovereignty.
“Today we have to hope that it is Maduro himself who starts a change, well he has undoubtedly already started it, because he has made some very important political gestures such as the liberation of the prisoners, the creation of the National Dialogue Table, in other words, the government has given some demonstrations that it values dialogue at the moment. Now, I believe that this dialogue has to be deepened for next year and I believe that we must seek to propose policies to recover the country with an opposition that does not become obstructionist but, on the contrary, helps the correct policies,” said Hernández.
While for Ochoa the government’s contribution will be to guarantee that the conditions implemented to guarantee greater participation “are not simply under a subordinate calculation of having the majority assured in the AN.”
“If they are doing it under this opportunistic calculation, it would not have the democratic consequences that one would expect it to be, that both extremes could yield even at the risk of losing, that if it is through democratic means the victory of the other is good for the country, in the sense that the republican alternation is positive,” Ochoa added and stressed that along with this scenario, the opposition must understand that” if it is not respecting our sovereignty, it will never have a future in Venezuela.”
Featured image: Juan Guaido and Leopoldo Lopez while realizing their April 30, 2019 coup d’etat was a big failure. File photo.