Caracas, October 24, 2016 (venezuelanalysis.com) – The long-time Venezuelan political party Democratic Action (AD) has expelled three of its sitting mayors, after it emerged they had signed a document backing the national government’s 2017 budget in violation of an opposition boycott.
On Friday, Popular Will (VP) party leader Lester Toledo revealed that six mayors in Zulia state came together on October 19 to sign a cross-party pledge, committing them to respecting “the President of the Republic’s order for the benefit of the communities that we represent”.
The agreement was signed by mayors Eveling Trejo de Rosales, Mervin Méndez, Freddy Gómez, Ender Pino, Nidia de Atencio and Fernando Loaiza, but was snubbed by the mayor of Machiques, Alfonso Márquez.
“This is a betrayal of our National Assembly and the people of Zulia,” the VP leader hit out on Twitter.
On October 11, the Venezuelan Supreme Court (TSJ) ruled that President Nicolas Maduro could bypass Congress for budgetary approval, given the latter’s violation of a TSJ order to suspend three legislators over allegations of electoral fraud.
The ruling prompted outcry from the MUD, which announced that it would boycott the national budget in retaliation. On Friday seventy mayors aligned to the coalition released a statement outlining their refusal to sign the government’s budgetary statement, claiming that the mechanisms used to approve it were unconstitutional.
It is not known why the six Zulia mayors decided to stray from the coalition’s political line, but a news report by Venezuela’s Panorama claims that the unexpected move was orchestrated by Maracaibo mayor Eveling Trejo de Rosales of the “New Era” (UNT) party. Rosales’ husband and former presidential candidate Manuel Rosales was moved to house arrest whilst awaiting trial for corruption last week.
Although none of the AD mayors have confirmed their expulsion from the party, AD heavyweight and president of the National Assembly Ramos Allup retweeted a message stating that the three had since been stripped of their membership.
Both Ender Pino and Eveling Trejo de Rosales have since taken to social media to defend their position.
“I swore to safeguard the benefits of the Valmore Rodriguez community and I took a decision for their wellbeing,” tweeted the mayor Ender Pino.
In an official UNT statement, Rosales also affirmed that the mayors had not officially signed the government’s budget, but rather an independent statement.
“I will not sign any document from the national government which is not in line with my principals,” said Rosales.
In sharp contrast to Democratic Action, the New Era party has publicly stated that it will continue to support Rosales and the other mayors.
The news has compounded rumours of internal conflict within the ranks of the MUD.