Mérida, January 25th 2012 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Leopoldo Lopez has withdrawn from the opposition presidential primaries, deferring his support to the current governor of Miranda state, Henrique Capriles Radonski. The opposition will hold its primaries on 12 February.
Lopez, coming from one of Venezuela’s wealthiest families, and who received his higher education in the United States, was mayor of Chacao, a wealthy Caracas district, during the April 2002 coup d’état. He is known for the role he played in encouraging opposition marchers into taking an illegal route towards the presidential palace, where snipers fired on protesters, helping the opposition justify the coup.
Despite Venezuela’s Comptroller General barring him from holding office until 2014 for acts of corruption committed while he was mayor and during his time as a state employee of PDVSA, Lopez registered for opposition primaries. The ruling did not bar him from participating in elections.
Lopez, speaking yesterday in Caracas, said that Capriles “is now the head and leader who will be victorious on 7 October [date of the presidential elections]”.
Lopez explained his decision saying that it was in response to “coinciding in criteria and vision”, while Capriles said the “alliance” was a “new way of doing politics” and “shows that above anything else are our people who asked that we unite”.
Capriles named Lopez national coordinator of his electoral campaign.
Lopez was one of six candidates to the opposition’s primaries for the presidential elections. Capriles is a member of the party Primera Justicia (First Justice), while Lopez was a member of that party but left it to form Un Nuevo Tiempo (A New Epoch) then Voluntad Popular (Popular Will).
Pablo Perez, the other most likely candidate to win next to Capriles criticised the move warning the other candidates to “be careful”, while Un Nuevo Tiempo spokesperson Omar Barboza said the move was designed to “stop Perez”. Lopez has also been dropping in the polls, from third position, to fourth.
Although Lopez has publically expressed his support for Capriles, Teresa Albanes, president of the Opposition umbrella group, the Democratic Unity Table (MUD), said any votes for Lopez would be considered null, and would not go to Capriles. Likewise, the large sum paid by Lopez of to run in the primaries will not be returned.
In response to the news, President Hugo Chavez said yesterday that, “The candidate of the counter revolution, whoever he or she will be, is going to be the Yankee’s [U.S] candidate, the candidate of the bourgeoisie, of imperialism. On 7 October the people will choose between the Yankees and the bourgeoisie or Chavez, and Chavez is the people.”