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Venezuelan Presidential Elections: One Contestant Withdraws, Further Internal Opposition Criticism

Mérida, September 18th 2012 ( –  As the presidential elections draw closer, there have been some further developments, with one candidate, Yoel Acosta Chirinos, withdrawing, and another opposition leader, Hermann Escarra, publically criticising the opposition coalition MUD’s government plan as “unconstitutional”.

Yesterday Acosta announced he would step down as a candidate and would support Chavez.

When President Hugo Chavez and opposition candidate Henrique Capriles registered  as candidates for the 7 October presidential elections in June, five other people backed by smaller parties or organisations also registered, among them Acosta.

Acosta has previously supported Chavez and was involved with him in the 1992 coup attempt. He was nominated by the Vanguard Republican Bicentenary party as a presidential candidate, as he said that the party had recently applied to the national assembly to back Chavez, but had been denied.

Yesterday, however, he declared, “My adversary is the right wing, and my historic ally is Chavez. The important thing is that the government is maintained [in power], and that more power goes to the people”.

Further, yesterday opposition constitutional lawyer Hermann Escarra became the third pro-opposition figure to publically denounce the opposition document released recently which outlines the MUD’s government plan should its candidate, Henrique Capriles, win the 7 October elections.

Escarra said the document “attacks the constitution in a very serious way... it’s the gravest thing I’ve ever read”.  In an interview broadcast by public station VTV, he also said many aspects of the document, such as terminating the pension retirement system, would create a “delicate” situation in the country. He said that the opposition can’t privatise nor sell Venezuela’s state oil company, PDVSA, as the document sets out, as such an act goes against the constitution.

In response to MUD general secretary Ramon Aveledo, who denied the document was written by the opposition, Escarra said, “someone had to have written it, because it has harmony”. He said the document has a logical structure and promotes “the most savage capitalism”.

“If this [plan] were to happen...we’d have to go out into the street, we can’t allow such a huge step backwards,” he said.

Escarra was a co-writer of the 1999 constitution, but has always been a spokesperson for the opposition. In the lead-up to the 2007 constitutional referendum, Escarra called Chavez’s proposed changes a “presidential coup d’état” and in 2010 he also called for an “indefinite strike” after Chavez took action against 47 large landholders, expropriating their land.  Yesterday he reaffirmed he was with the opposition, and an independent.

Published on Sep 18th 2012 at 8.27pm