Opposition Strategy for the 2012 Presidential Elections in Venezuela

Axis of Logic details the political career and background of three of the opposition's principal candidates for the 2012 presidential elections.

By Axis of Logic

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María Corina Machado, founder of Sumate, a US-funded opposition organization meeting with former U.S. President George W. Bush in Washington in 2005 (ElUniversal)
María Corina Machado, founder of Sumate, a US-funded opposition organization meeting with former U.S. President George W. Bush in Washington in 2005 (ElUniversal)
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Axis of Logic details the political career and background of three of the opposition's principal candidates for the 2012 presidential elections.

Manuel Rosales ran for president of Venezuela in 2006 and lost in a landslide victory for President Chávez. He was former governor of Zulia and later Mayor of Maracaibo. He was charged by the Attorney General of corruption for stealing $60,000 from tax payers in 2009. While governor, he bought half a dozens ranches and a couple of mansions in Zulia but was unable to account for the money used for these purchases.

Also in 2009 a Geovanny Zambrano, a member of the AUC a right wing paramilitary death squad operation testified that Rosales conspired with the AUC to assassinate President Chávez. Rosales has been commuting between Lima and Panama.

It's difficult to understand how Rosales, under arrest and having fled prosecution can stand as a viable candidate in the 2012 elections. Nevertheless, we often hear the opposition saying, "he'll be back sooner than you think." But if he steps into the country, he faces the same criminal charges lodged against him in 2009. Word is that he's being upstaged among the opposition by current Zulia governor Pablo Perez who was in the US 10 days ago at a forum in George Washington University. Obviously, opposition candidates have to be vetted by the U.S. State Department to be cleared as opposition candidates in Venezuela - and by extension to receive the dollars for their campaigns - illegally of course by Venezuelan law.

María Corina Machado is a founder and former president of Súmate, an opposition volunteer organization in Venezuela. When she was president of Súmate, Eva Golinger discovered through FOIA that the organization received millions of US dollars from Washington-based National Endowment for Democracy (NED) to fund the Venezuelan opposition. In February 2010 she resigned from Súmate and won election as a First Justice Party candidate to the National Assembly (congress) in Chacao, one of the strongest opposition electoral districts in Caracas. The opposition reap is around 73% - 80% of the votes there for mayor. It is a municipality and it's people in congress represent the state of Miranda. Chacao, even though it overlaps with Caracas (Capital District) is part of the state of Miranda whose current governor is Henrique Radonski.

Chacao has also been reported to be the wealthiest municipality in all of Latin America. In May, 2005 Machado received a warm welcome from then president George W. Bush in the Oval Office of the White House:

Henrique Capriles Radonski is a Venezuelan politician, pure and simple. He was mayor of the Baruta Municipality, an opposition stronghold from 2000 until 2008. He was elected as governor of the State of Miranda in 2008.

Radonski was charged with participating in the 2002 coup attempt against President Chávez and fomenting violence in a siege of the Cuban Embassy at the time. At the time of the siege, Radonski and others cut off electricity to the embassy, smashed windows and blocked the Cuban ambassador from leaving. Radonski admitted participation in the siege but claimed that he "helped avert more violence by preventing protesters from storming the Embassy." He was later acquitted of these charges, an aquittal that was later rescinded.

Of course the corporate media here and abroad argue on their behalf claiming that the criminal charges lodged against these candidates are "political," and "trumped up" by the Venezuelan government to prevent the opposition from defeating President Chávez and his political party, the PSUV. Just for laughs - imagine an individual like Radonski participating in a coup against a sitting U.S. president and laying siege on the British Embassy in Washington. It's doubtful that he would have even made it from the street to the jail alive let alone run for president in a later election!

According to Venezuelan public television, there are currently 18 opposition candidates vying for the primary elections on February 12. What should be understood is that there are many factions in the opposition making unity impossible. When asked his view of the potency of the opposition for the elections, President Chávez simply says, “They aren’t unified." "Mesa de Unidad Democratica" (MUD), the opposition coalition has only one thing holding them together - being anti-Chávez. Thus MUD is deceiving its own constituency. In her article below, Eva Golinger cites Celia Flores regarding supposed unity among the opposition:

"Cilia Flores, socialist assembly woman and Vice President of the PSUV, responded to the MUD’s recent announcement by asserting that opposition forces are looking to disguise ongoing “infighting” with a 'false show of unity'. The opposition’s electoral ticket, she said, 'is not singular, nor unified. It’s not even one single ticket, but one more among many'. According to Flores, the MUD presidential ticket is nothing more than another attempt to show unity where none exists."

Primary elections will decide not only on a candidate for president but also for the next election of mayors and governors. The infighting has already begun. There are certain factions within the opposition parties who want their people to be accepted as candidates outside the primary election process. Examples include Ismael Garcia, candidate for governor of the State of Aragua and Andres Velasquez, candidate for governor of the State of Bolivar and Manuel Rosales, former governor of the State of Zulia, hiding from prosecution in Peru. In an obvious negation of internal democracy, they want to be listed as candidates without even gaining the support of opposition voters!

So at the moment, MUD is in disarray while claiming internal unity to be the main plank in their coalition. Their name, "Mesa de Unidad Democratica" is on its face, a deception.

According to the most recent polls, President Chávez' popularity among Venezuelans continues to grow. According to Hinterlaces, a polling firm "seen as closer to the opposition" according to Reuters, reported in September 2010 President Chávez having 42 percent support by Venezuelans. Their poll showed that this increased to 49 percent during the month of November and now they are showing his support is at about 55 percent. Their most recent poll showed that only 22 percent indicated that the next president of Venezuela should come from an opposition party.

The latest poll conducted by the Grupo de Investigación Social Siglo XXI (GIS XXI) showed that 54 percent of the Venezuelan population would vote for President Chávez in the coming 2012 presidential elections and only 23 percent would vote for an opposition candidate.

Edited by Venezuelanalysis