Venezuelan Opposition Announces Possible Candidates for Primary Elections

The Venezuelan opposition has released a list of possible candidates to stand for the Table of Democratic Unity (MUD) against the United Socialist Party of Venezuela’s (PSUV) candidate, Hugo Chávez Frias, in the 2012 presidential elections.

By Rachael Boothroyd - Venezuelanalysis.com

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Henrique Capriles Radonski announces his candidacy for opposition primaries (El Universal).
Henrique Capriles Radonski announces his candidacy for opposition primaries (El Universal).
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Coro, May 4th 2011 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – The Venezuelan opposition has released a list of possible candidates to stand for the Table of Democratic Unity (MUD) against the United Socialist Party of Venezuela’s (PSUV) candidate, Hugo Chávez Frias, in the 2012 presidential elections.

The list of candidates – Manuel Rosales, Pablo Pérez, Oswaldo Álvarez Paz, Antonio Ledezma, César Pérez Vivas (current governor of Tachira state), Eduardo Fernández, and Capriles Radonski (current governor of Miranda State) – includes many of the oppositions’s long-standing political figures, despite attempts by the opposition to market itself as modern and electable.

MUD, an alliance of Venezuela’s conservative parties, has organised primary elections for 12 February 2012 in order to select one of the above aspirants to stand as the official candidate of the right in the 2012 presidential elections.

Jesus Alberto Barrios, the Secretary of Venezuela’s Christian Democrat Party (COPEI), yesterday confirmed that the party would be supporting the following candidates from their party: César Pérez Vivas, Oswaldo Álvarez Paz, and Eduardo Fernández.

The naming of certain candidates, who have employed illegitimate and underhanded political tactics against the Bolivarian government in the past, has cast doubt as to whether the opposition is now truly committed to following legal democratic procedures.

For instance, César Pérez Vivas has been accused of corruption, trying to smear the reputation of the national government at a regional level by withholding funds designated for Communal Councils, as well as persecuting Cuban medical professionals in the area.

PSUV lawmaker Iris Varela criticised governor Vivas, saying that “he has attacked the people in Tachira ever since he started to govern there”.

In April of this year, when the national government approved a payment of 6 million bolivars ($1.4 million US) to the state of Tachira in order to deal with the crisis caused by heavy rains, Vivas was “unable to make himself available to deal with the crisis,” said Varela.

In another case, the Public Prosecutioner’s Office issued an arrest warrant for Oswaldo Álvarez Perez on charges of conspiring against the government, inciting unlawful activity and the diffusion of false information, after Perez accused the Bolivarian government of involvement in narco-trafficking operations while speaking on a live television programme.

Henrique Capriles Radonski has also had altercations with the law. In 2004 a warrant was issued for his arrest due to the role he played in the violent confrontations that took place outside the Cuban Embassy during the 2002 opposition orchestrated coup.

In relation to his candidacy, Radonski – who belongs to the conservative party “Justice First” (PJ) – stated that “life is opening and closing cycles, and we are going to close a cycle”, adding that his “programme was not against anyone, but in the interests of all”.

However, despite opposition attempts at creating unity, Radonski criticised inter-party rivalry, stating that some members of the opposition were more concerned about “fighting to make sure the official candidate is a member of their particular party” than they are about uniting to defeat Chávez.

In reports released in mid-April, diplomatic cables written by the U.S embassy in Caracas revealed a series of internal problems within the opposition camp, including in-fighting and a lack of vision and strategy.

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