Mérida, 1st April 2013 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan government officials and opposition leaders are intensifying accusations against each other as both sides prepare to start campaigning for the 14 April presidential election.
Also, with campaigning to officially begin tomorrow, opposition candidate Henrique Capriles has switched his campaign launch to the eastern state of Monagas.
On Friday Capriles had announced his intention to begin his presidential bid in the state of Barinas, the home state of late President Hugo Chavez. The government’s candidate, Nicolas Maduro, had already announced his intention to do the same three days earlier.
Maduro criticised Capriles’ decision to start his campaign in Barinas as “seeking violence”. “That’s why [Capriles] decided to come here, to provoke the people of Barinas, and to start the electoral campaign by sending a message of violence,” he said.
However, yesterday Capriles backed down on the announcement, switching his campaign launch to Monagas state. He said that the change was “so as not to coincide with the activities of the other campaign” and argued that “Venezuela is big enough…for all of us [to campaign] in a spirit of peace”.
Meanwhile, opposition politicians have made several accusations against the government in recent days.
On Saturday, opposition legislator Dinorah Figuera repeated the opposition’s claim that Acting President Nicolas Maduro had “lied” about Chavez’s health before his death on 5 March.
“The people who supported Chavez are very aware that Nicolas Maduro isn’t Chavez: so don’t say you are Chavez’s son, you [Maduro] are your mother and father’s son,” said Figuera, who is a national assembly deputy for Capriles’ Justice First party.
“If you were [Chavez’s son], you would honour his memory with the truth and wouldn’t have lied to the country about his illness,” she said to press.
Blanca Eekhout, a leading member of Maduro’s United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), responded to Figuera’s declarations on Sunday. “This lady [Figuera] has dedicated the last few days to attacking our president, Nicolas Maduro, in a creeping and cowardly way,” she said
Eekhout further accused Figuera of “defaming, attacking [and] lying,” in her comments toward Maduro, and recalled the opposition deputy’s role in the short-lived April 2002 coup against the Chavez’s government.
Yesterday, opposition deputy Alfonso Marquina also made a set of accusations against the Maduro-led government. Marquina claimed the government had designed a plan in which the Bolivarian National Armed Forces (FANB) would help mobilise people to vote for Maduro on 14 April.
“This is a mechanism implemented through [citizen] militias and the People’s Guard to act as an electoral mobilisation…for the government’s (PSUV) party,” he said in a press conference.
To back up his claim, Marquina showed a document which he said was a network of electoral districts where civilian militias of the Armed Forces were meant to mobilise voters.
Marquina’s accusations follow a series of criticisms made by the opposition against the National Electoral Council and the voting system, in an apparent attempt to discredit the presidential election ahead of the 14 April vote.
The opposition lawmaker’s declarations were thoroughly rejected by pro-government politicians, one of whom expressed her bewilderment at the claims. “We have never used the armed forces for the mobilisation of our supporters,” said Aurora Morales, the PSUV president of Miranda state legislative council.
“It is the political party that mobilises people, as parties have my whole life,” she said in an interview. She continued, “It seems to me that this [opposition accusation] is pulled out of I don’t know where…but I absolutely reject the supposed denunciation that the deputy is making”.
Further, the PSUV governor of Vargas state, Jorge Garcia, clarified that on voting day the civilian militia would be acting with the Armed Forces as part of the Plan Republic security plan, as with every national election.
“It’s clear that the deputy Marquina doesn’t know the military lexicon or procedures, the plan he denounces is false,” the governor said. “That operation he is talking about is an operation that includes the national militia as a component of the FANB for the security of electoral facilities on 14 April,” he added.
The official campaign season set by the National Electoral Council begins 2 April and lasts until 11 April.