Caracas, July 22nd 2013 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Opposition leader Henrique Capriles returned to Venezuela yesterday after tours to Chile and Peru, where he attempted to increase support for his claim that there was fraud in the April 14 presidential elections.
Though virtually all countries in the western hemisphere, aside from the United States, have recognized the election results, Capriles said he hoped the visits would allow the “international community [to know] the truth about what’s happening in Venezuela.”
The opposition boycotted a full audit carried out in May by Venezuela’s National Electoral Council (CNE) after complaining that it would not include the voting record books, which contain manually-entered fingerprints and signatures.
In Chile, Capriles met with senators from several political parties, including the Christian Democratic Party and Socialist Party; former Presidents Eduardo Frei and Patricio Aylwin, the first democratically elected president following the country’s 17-year dictatorship under General Augusto Pinochet; and current conservative President Sebastian Piñera.
As opposed to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, who received Capriles in Colombia’s presidential palace, Piñera had dinner with Capriles at the residence of Senator Jovino Novoa, technically making the meeting unofficial in nature. A founder of the rightwing party Independent Democratic Union (UDI), Novoa served as subsecretary general during Pinochet’s dictatorship.
“We’re going to get together to talk honestly and openly about Chile, Venezuela, Latin America, and the world,” Piñera said before the dinner.
Former Chilean president Michelle Bachelet, a Socialist Party member considered the favorite to win the country’s November presidential elections, declined to meet with Capriles after citing difficulties in her schedule. However, she did meet on Friday with Leopoldo Lopez, director of the Venezuelan opposition party Voluntad Popular, in a forum of Socialist International.
After leaving Chile on Friday, Capriles continued to Lima, Peru, where he spoke with various civilian groups and politicians, among them former Peruvian president Alan Garcia.
Garcia, whose heterodox economic reforms led to severe hyperinflation while he served as president in the late 1980s, was elected for a second term from 2005-2011. In a press conference following his meeting with Capriles, he declared the opposition leader “the elected president of Venezuela.”
“Democracy is a long process of patience, but you will triumph because the current government that has the instruments of power of Venezuela in its hands will condemn itself to economic isolation using a model of government and economy that belongs to the nineteenth century, with extreme state-ism and absurd and exaggerated assistentialism,” he said to Capriles.
Current Peruvian President Ollanta Humala, elected following Garcia as the candidate of the leftwing alliance Peru Wins, traveled to Puno state for a meeting on Saturday and did not meet with Capriles. Humala serves as the current President of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), which accepted the April 14 election results and the subsequent audit carried out by Venezuela’s CNE.
In a press conference on Saturday from Lima, Capriles lamented that he would not be able to speak with Humala.
“I don’t intend to decide the agenda of President Humala, but we hope for a response [to Capriles’ request for a meeting], not as President of Peru, but as the brother countries that we are. We are in solidarity with your struggles, and only ask that you be in solidarity with ours,” he said.
He added, “We don’t claim that the Peruvians, nor the Chileans, nor the Brazilians, nor the Colombians, will resolve our problems. Venezuelans are going to resolve Venezuela’s problems. But Venezuela is a case study and it’s important that these countries see what is happening in our nation.”
In both countries, Capriles’ visits were marked by protests from several dozens of citizens, who displayed signs calling him a “fascist,” “coup-mongerer,” and “terrorist.”
Speaking on a radio show, Chilean Communist Party director Juan Andres Lagos drew comparisons between Capriles’ international visits and the US-supported destabilization of Chilean President Salvador Allende, a democratically elected socialist overthrown by Pinochet in 1973.
“From the social movements and political forces opposed to the rightwing government [of Piñera], there is a strong rejection and criticism of the visit, as it is considered that this man [Capriles] won’t recognize the legitimacy of the results of a government democratically elected by a people, that of Nicolas Maduro. Capriles is installing a very complex situation that is stimulated by the United States, and what it looks for is undemocratic destabilization,” Lagos said.
In Venezuela, Government Protests Capriles’ Absence
As Capriles’ tour continued, government officials criticized his absence from Miranda state, where he serves as governor.
From an agricultural event of the Francisco de Miranda Development Corporation of the Tuy River Basin, Foreign Minister and Corporation President Elias Jaua, who lost to Capriles in Miranda’s gubernatorial race last December, expressed frustration at the governor’s “political impunity.”
“There is a people here. Three million Mirandeans deserve the respect of the man who claims to be their governor, and the respect is shown by working on the street, not conspiring in Chile with a far right who has been the most murderous in the continent against their own country,” he said.
The comments come at the helm of a Hinterlaces poll released earlier today which showed a drop from 50% to 31% of those with a favorable opinion toward the opposition, and a climb from 39% to 56% of those with an unfavorable opinion. 48% of respondents expressed a favorable opinion toward the governing United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV).
A July 8 poll released by the same firm predicted that if the country’s Dec. 8 municipal elections were held that day, the victory would go to the opposition.