The Opposition Divided but not Disunited, and “The Exit”

Caracas-based political scientist Nicmer Evans gives a brief overview of the state of the Venezuelan opposition, as differing strategies emerge in light of there being no national elections scheduled for this year.

By Nicmer Evans – Rebelión

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Former presidential candidate and Miranda state governor Henrique Capriles (left) and leader of the right-wing Popular Will party Leopoldo Lopez (AP)
Former presidential candidate and Miranda state governor Henrique Capriles (left) and leader of the right-wing Popular Will party Leopoldo Lopez (AP)
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Caracas-based political scientist Nicmer Evans gives a brief overview of the state of the Venezuelan opposition, as differing strategies emerge in light of there being no national elections scheduled for this year.

What we have warned about since October 2011 has begun to concretise. The tensions revealed in the process of choosing a presidential candidate within the MUD [the opposition Democratic Unity Table coalition] were sown up within the opposition, which is now divided. There are three currents that dispute the leadership of the MUD. On one hand there’s the crestfallen [Henrique] Capriles, with four electoral defeats on his shoulders, and a distaste for his dented leadership within an anti-Chavismo that can’t find an alternative to what exists, and popularly assumes the phrase “this is what there is”.

The other current is led by Maria Corina Machado and Leopoldo Lopez, who have five defeats on their shoulders if we add the election when Capriles beat them in the MUD’s [presidential] primaries. With verified illegitimacy they have agreed to propose “the exit” of the regime through action, which includes getting rid of Capriles, who is seen as a “conciliator” and almost traitor for having assumed the “dialogue” convoked by the government of President Maduro.

A third current, represented by [metropolitan mayor of Caracas] Antonio Ledezma, is that which proposes the “unity in the street”, where the classic social democrats converge who try to place themselves in the gaps of the conflict between the other two currents, but lack organic grassroots support.

This division is a race against time that ends up being the synthesis of the opposition’s extremes. However, despite this divisiveness, I think that naivety should be put aside, because in the end these three currents will end up united around a possible “exit” of the revolutionary process by the way that guarantees them to achieve it.  

“The exit”, as one of the currents has called its proposed action, will end up pushing the opposition’s leadership into a state on contradiction such that they will be capable of putting their own activists’ lives as risk again, with the aim of taking advantage of what they diagnose as a moment of weakness within Chavismo.

In this sense, the current of “the exit” isn’t only over-exaggerating the critical debate that’s underway in the heart of Chavismo, but it’s also overestimating its capacity of maneuver, especially because to achieve “the exit” by “constitutional means” they need a support base that they don’t have, and to achieve “the exit” by force the need an army that they don’t even have a hope of influencing.    

As such, the Venezuelan people should be very alert, both because of the need to avoid mistakes that subtract or exclude within Chavismo and put at risk the construction of Bolivarian socialism left by Chavez, and because of the anti-national aspirations of an old opposition in decline.

Translated by Ewan Robertson for Venezuelanalysis.com