Quito, January 15, 2015. (Venezuelanalysis.com)- Right-wing opposition leaders are calling for mobilizations against the government as food shortages continue in Venezuela. Meanwhile, government officials claim they have evidence that the right wing is planning to revive street barricades and violence as a means of creating destabilization.
The leader of the opposition First Justice Party, Henrique Capriles publicly referred to the country’s economic turmoil fueled by ongoing food shortages and sinking oil prices “a perfect storm for changing the government.”
Capriles, who lost the 2013 election to President Maduro is calling for Venezuelans to mobilize in the streets while Maduro continues an international tour to secure loans and investment to offset the lost revenue as a result of decade-low oil prices.
“We have been headed towards this crisis since 2013, and we warned people of it, Capriles announced during a press conference yesterdat, “But the government did not take actions and for this reason the crisis is here to stay, but- Venezuelans- we don’t have to silence our voice, now is the moment to express it.”
The former opposition candidate, whose family owns numerous media chains in Venezuela, is also a leader of the Democratic Unity Table (MUD)- an opposition umbrella electoral group that has engaged in negotiations with the government. Though he calls for public response, the politician has historically rejected the use of street barricades as protest.
Other opposition leaders, such as Leopoldo López, María Corina Machado and Antonio Ledezma, were much more supportive of the street barricades (locally known as guarimba) that brought the economy to a halt and resulted in the death of 43 people last spring. Dubbed by Lopez as “the exit,” the wave of protests ultimately demanded the resignation of president Maduro.
Lopez has remained in prison since turning himself in in February of last year, while Machado was indicted in November for her alleged involvement in a conspiracy against President Maduro. One email intercepted by intelligence services and allegedly sent from Machado’s account stated, “I believe the time has come to join forces, make the necessary calls, and obtain the financing to annihilate Maduro… and the rest will come falling down”.
National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello announced on VTV that he possesses evidence that the right-wing is planning more violent action in Venezuela. He claims that the seizure of one million dollars in a truck en route from Colombia was the first shipment of funding for the opposition party Popular Will and Machado. The revival of barricades and violence will be a part of the new “Exit 2” strategy, Cabello warned.
The Venezuelan Episcopal Conference (VEC) released a statement early this year claiming that the economic crisis in Venezuela is a result of “the politico-economic system of a socialist, Marxist or communist nature.” But the government continues to blame the capitalist class for sabotaging the government through “economic warfare.”
While Maduro meets with Russian leaders, financial journals continue to predict Venezuela’s default within the first half of 2015. Meanwhile, Capriles’ call for nonviolent action seems at odds with the supposed “Exit 2” strategy on the horizon, pointing again to a clear divide in opposition tactics.