Members of Venezuelan Right Feel Excluded from Opposition

Sidelined members of the Venezuelan opposition fiercely criticized their so-called Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) this week after it began backroom discussions to select a presidential candidate in case President Chavez decides he is unable to carry out his full 2013-2019 term.

By Correo del Orinoco International
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Henrique Capriles Radonski's failed bid for presidency last year damaged opposit
Henrique Capriles Radonski's failed bid for presidency last year damaged opposition unity, according to Henry Ramos Allup from Democratic Action. Nonetheless, he hopes to run for the office a second time, if President Hugo Chavez resigns. (AVN)

Though the recently re-elected Venezuelan President continues to be on an authorized medical leave granted to him by the National Assembly and ratified by the Supreme Tribunal of Justice (TSJ), the US-backed MUD coalition is pushing relentlessly for his resignation and a new round of presidential elections.

JUMPING THE GUN

Overlooking President Chavez’s sweeping October 2012 victory and his authorized permission to recover from his latest phase of cancer-related medical treatment, a select group within the opposition coalition held closed-door meetings on Sunday, aimed at choosing what they called a “preventative” presidential candidate.

Arguing that the Venezuelan President should resign instead of carrying out his full recovery, the opposition is looking to secure the implementation of a constitutional clause that calls for new presidential elections when a President is deemed unable to govern during the first half of his six-year term.

The process of selecting their “preventative” candidate, however, is revealing long-standing fissures within the opposition camp.

In a telling example, as failed right-wing presidential candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski is working to secure the candidacy for himself, Secretary General of the opposition’s Democratic Action (AD) Henry Ramos Allup published an online piece describing the 2012 Capriles campaign as a “candidacy filled with hot air, contempt, mistreatment of others, leaving a trail of broken glass behind that wrought havoc on our unity”.

UNINVITING

Apart from internal divisions among those present at the MUD’s weekend meeting, several opposition spokesmen also criticized the coalition’s leadership for leaving them out of the selection process.

Long-time opposition advocate Pablo Medina, for example, told reporters that the MUD “has become an exclusionary entity that seeks to make decisions behind closed doors”.

“In my particular case”, Medina told the press on Monday, “I wasn’t even invited”.

Medina belongs to the 2D Movement, a largely internet-based organization that issues press releases and paid advertisements to denounce what it calls “threats” to “liberty and democracy” in Venezuela.

“Even though I tried finding a way to participate”, Medina explained, “there was no way to do so, no way to be present or participate in that process”.

Medina described himself as “a man of unity” but said he wants “a unity with open doors, with a transparent, democratic process in which people can feel free to decide what criteria will be used to make decisions”.

Medina added that in the coming days he will join right-wing politician Diego Arria to denounce the opposition coalition for carrying out what he called “an anti-democratic act”.

Meanwhile, Segundo Melendez, of the opposition’s Movement toward Socialism (MAS), also criticized the recent opposition proceedings.

Speaking to reporters early this week, Melendez described the opposition of today as “a small grouping of parties that makes decisions, discusses things among themselves, comes to agreements, only to impose them on the rest”.

“There has been a process of exclusion during important debates”, he said, “and we strongly encourage the opposition leadership to make participation and inclusion a possibility”.