Mérida, August 4, 2020 (venezuelanalysis.com) – The Trump administration threw its weight behind opposition leader Juan Guaido’s decision to boycott the country’s upcoming parliamentary elections.
“That corrupt election is not going to change Guaido’s status and I don’t think you’ll find anybody in the opposition leadership who will claim otherwise,” White House Special Envoy for Venezuela Elliott Abrams said while testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday.
Abrams, considered one of the architects of the Reagan administration’s Central America wars as well as the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, added that he expects the several dozen countries who recognize Guaido as Venezuela’s “interim president” to continue doing so by not recognizing the South American country’s December 6 National Assembly elections.
On Sunday, Guaido’s press office published a statement on behalf of 26 opposition parties pledging not to participate in the constitutionally mandated elections.
“The Venezuelan democratic parties declare before the international community that we have unanimously decided not to participate in the electoral fraud convened by the Maduro regime,” the text read.
The opposition called on the international community to “reject” the elections and maintain support until “free and fair presidential and parliamentary elections” can be held. Major opposition parties likewise boycotted the 2018 presidential elections despite former Lara State Governor Henri Falcon leading the polls as the most popular opposition leader.
Guaido proclaimed himself “interim president” in January 2019, going on to lead several unsuccessful attempts to oust the government by force over the subsequent months. His backing from Washington and allies was based on his position as National Assembly president. However, the current legislative term expires in December.
Some of the largest opposition parties undersigning the election boycott, including, Democratic Action, Justice First and Popular Will, are currently facing internal leadership disputes. In recent months, the Venezuelan Supreme Court (TSJ) has intervened following legal complaints from party members, dissolving the existing leadership and naming new ad-hoc boards, which have all pledged to take part in the December elections. The new leaders were drawn from opposition sectors that had broken ranks with Guaido in late 2019 following mutual corruption allegations.
The Venezuelan government did not respond to the opposition and Abrams’ statements.
The boycott announcement came on the heels of fresh efforts to restart talks between the Maduro administration and the pro-Guaido opposition.
Last week, a delegation of Norwegian diplomats visited Caracas, meeting with government officials and opposition party leaders. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said his government was ready to return to the table.
Guaido’s office, for its part, acknowledged the visit but denied any dialogue was underway, reiterating its rejection of the upcoming elections.
Representatives of Guaido and the Venezuelan government entered into negotiations brokered by Norway last year. However, the talks collapsed in August 2019 after Washington escalated its sanctions regime into a sweeping embargo, blocking all dealings with Venezuelan state entities and authorizing secondary sanctions against third party actors.
Ricardo Vaz reporting from Mérida and Lucas Koerner from Philadelphia.