Venezuelan Opposition Faces Internal Split

Venezuela’s opposition’s internal strife spilled over Thursday, when a prominent far right party announced plans to split over an election boycott.

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Vente Venezuela head Maria Machado has condemned the opposition for agreeing to run candidates in the December 10 regional elections. (VV/Handout)
Vente Venezuela head Maria Machado has condemned the opposition for agreeing to run candidates in the December 10 regional elections. (VV/Handout)
By Ryan Mallett-Outtrim
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Puebla, Mexico, August 11, 2017 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuela’s opposition’s internal strife spilled over Thursday, when a prominent far right party announced plans to split over an election boycott.

Far right party Vente Venezuela (VV) said it would leave the main opposition coalition, the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), unless other parties join a boycott of the December 10 regional elections. In recent months the member parties of the MUD have been sharply divided over whether to participate in the vote. That division has only deepened since allegations surfaced of possible fraud in an election last month. However, as of Thursday, the bulk of MUD parties had agreed to run candidates in December.

In response, VV head Maria Machado condemned fellow opposition parties, stating it’s “inconceivable to even think about going to a … [carnival-esque] election.”

“Venezuela: As long as the MUD continues on this route, Vente Venezuela is not going to continue being part of this coalition,” Machado stated.

She argued President Nicolas Maduro should be forced from office long before the elections are set to take place, and issued a renewed call for “the exit” – an opposition strategy that has seen anti-government groups use street barricades and road blocks to pressure Maduro to resign.

“That Maduro stays until December? No, we can not accept it,” Machado said.

So far, the anti-government demonstrations and ensuing political unrest have left 126 people dead in four months.

“We are consistent with what we have promised to the country, which was to fight for the exit,” Machado said.

As one of the most prominent opposition leaders, Machado has long been a divisive figure in Venezuelan politics. In 2002 she was among the signatories of the Carmona Decree – the political manifesto of the short-lived 2002 coup government. The decree dissolved Venezuela’s democratic institutions and constitution, while handing power to the unelected coup leader, Pedro Carmona.

At least one other party has backed Machado and VV, the centre right Alianza Bravo Pueblo (ABP). However, most of the MUD has agreed to field candidates on December 10. On Wednesday, MUD spokesperson Andres Velasquez said the coalition remains committed to its four month old protest campaign, but would participate in the vote as “an act of subversion”.

“[Our] objective remains the same: to shed this dictatorship as soon as possible,” he said.

Another party that has been sceptical of the elections, the far right Voluntad Popular (VP), stated it had likewise agreed to run in the elections.

Delayed for a year due to unclear reasons, the December 10 elections will see Venezuelans vote for state legislators and governors nationwide. The MUD is currently unable to run in seven of the 23 states, due to ongoing legal cases including allegations of election fraud dating back to 2015.