22 January 2020 — Peoples Dispatch
João Pedro Stedile of the National Board of the Landless Rural Workers’ Movement of Brazil explains the conflicts within the Venezuelan opposition
One year ago on January 23, 2019, Juan Guaidó had united the Venezuelan right-wing opposition against Maduro. Today Guaidó continues to enjoy support from the United States but not from his fellow opposition legislators.
The honeymoon of the Venezuelan right-wing opposition is definitively over. While one year ago, the different opposition sectors rallied behind Juan Guaidó in his self-proclaimed presidential ambitions, for the past several months the sectors have been embroiled in controversies over corruption and embezzlement. This cumulated in the loss of support for Guaidó as president of the National Assembly and the election of opposition legislator Luis Parra as president of the Assembly on January 5.
What happened to bring about this conflict and what is happening in Venezuela now? João Pedro Stedile, a member of the National Board of the Landless Rural Workers’ Movement of Brazil organized a series of points in order to understand the saga.
1. In 2015 there were National Assembly elections in Venezuela. There it is one chamber they do not have senators just deputies. There are 167 elected.
2. In these elections, the opposition to Chavismo won the majority of the deputies. The Chavistas were left in clear minority with only 55 deputies and they formed the Block of the Homeland, in the parliament. The Supreme Tribunal of Justice cancelled the election of some deputies for fraud and corruption. The right-wing parties did not want to recognize this and as such a permanent conflict over the legality of the Assembly began.
3. A permanent confrontation formed between the Chavista executive power and the right-wing opposition that controlled parliament.
4. As a response to this impasse, the Government used its constitutional faculties and called for a National Constituent Assembly in 2017, that under the constitution is superior to the President and the Parliament. The most radical opposition refused to participate.
5. And as such there were two legislative colleges.
6. In 2018, there were elections for the President of the Republic, and state governors. The opposition participated in the elections, there were several observers from international institutions. Maduro beat the other competitors and the opposition elected some state governors. They all were inaugurated on January 10, 2019.
7. In January 2019, in coordination with the government of Trump, the most radical sector of the right-wing parties representation in the Assembly, that were accustomed to carrying out attacks in the city, were able to elect Guaidó as president of the National Assembly. And what should have been a normal act, as every year the deputies elect a new president of the Assembly, transformed into an attack on democracy. On January 23, Guaidó declared himself (interim) President of the Republic, affronting the recently elected and sworn in line with the Constitution and the Judicial powers: Nicolás Maduro.
8. This offensive was part of a coup plan, that calculated even the intervention of the armed forces of the US, Colombia and Brazil. Nevertheless, with several episodes of popular mobilization throughout 2019, the coup was defeated and the broad majority of the people continued supporting the Maduro government, despite the economic crisis and the economic and financial blockade imposed by the Trump government.
9. The decisive point for the coup was to divide the Armed Forces and gain their support for the coup. For this they used several mechanisms of lies, co-optation and corruption. Yet the Armed Forces remained loyal to the constitution and to the Government of Maduro. The right-wing, coup-supporting parties, were defeated.
10. Now, in January 2020, new elections were supposed to be held for the presidency of the National Assembly, as the mandate of Guaidó in that space was set to end. On January 5, the constitutional date of the elections, part of the opposition, that is more civilized to Chavismo and against US intervention, rebelled against the re-election of Guaidó and presented another opposition candidate for the post.
11. Guaidó perceived the defeat by his own colleagues, and thus caused a confusion in the entrance of the building, attempting to boycott the session. Notwithstanding, 127 deputies showed up and their candidate was elected by 81 votes. A new president of the Assembly was elected to substitute Guaidó, Deputy Luis Parra, from the Justice First party, a party in opposition to Chavismo.
12. Guaidó became very angry. And on the same day he held a meeting in the offices of an opposition newspaper. He brought 30 deputies there and they unanimously re-elected him to continue as president of the Assembly.
13. Here is where the chaos and division of the opposition occurs. The radical, terrorist sector subordinated to the United States, are just 30 deputies and are with Guaidó. Another sector of opposition parties want to change the government through democratic means, only recognize Luis Parra and have a base of 81 opposition deputies.
14. On January 14, the parallel parliament of Guaidó met again, and they took the decision to elect a new president of Telesur. As if this were a task of the assembly or of the president of the assembly, Guaidó named the journalist Leopoldo Castillo to “recover” Telesur. Beyond the legal absurdity of the act, done merely to carry out a politicized action, Mr. Leopoldo Castillo is an old militant of the extreme Venezuelan right and now he is outside the country. In the ‘80s, he was the Venezuelan ambassador in El Salvador and there he worked with the local fascist right-wing and participated in the incidents that led to the assassination of two Jesuit priests. More information here:
Un diputado que en varias oportunidades ha desafiado la constitucionalidad de #Venezuela, se ha pronunciado de forma ilegal y sin ninguna potestad jurídica para nombrar supuesto presidente de @teleSURtv al ciudadano Leopoldo Castillo: ¿Sabe quién este personaje? #VivateleSUR
— teleSUR TV (@teleSURtv) January 15, 2020
15. Telesur is a Latin American Foundation that does not have legal dependence on the National Assembly and the current president is Colombian journalist Patricia Villegas. The arrogance of Guaidó, is only explained by some request by his godfathers in the US, related to the drop in viewership of CNN Spanish, belonging to a right-wing group that supports Trump. And above all because Telesur is transmitting the truth of what is happening, not only in Venezuela, but also what is happening in Chile, Argentina, Ecuador, Colombia, providing a counterweight to the media manipulation of the empire.
16. The coordination of Guaidó with Trump and his gang is permanent. On January 14, the Department of the Treasury sanctioned the opposition deputy Luis Parra and two deputies that are members of the governing body of the National Assembly. The Trump government considers itself the owner of Venezuela and demands that the people respect the overseer, Mr. Guaidó, who is very well paid by the way.
17. This complete confusion, with two presidents of the Assembly and the disputes within the opposition, will only likely be resolved, with the call for new parliamentary elections. By law these elections must occur this year and they will be called for by the electoral tribunal in the first semester of this year. Until then, Guaidó will continue tricking who he wants to and the Americans will continue promoting their lies.
18. It recently emerged in the US and in Venezuela, that USAID contributed $128 million dollars and Elliot Abrams another $50 million, to finance the activities of Guaidó outside Venezuela. And to the whole opposition since 2017, USAID gave $467 million.
19. On the other hand, in the current international context, the government of Maduro has won key points. Venezuela was elected as a member of the Human Rights Council of the UN. The new government of Argentina expelled the representative of Guaidó and only recognizes the Maduro government. In the next few days the same should happen with the new government of Spain. And Guaidó has not been able to take over the Venezuelan embassy in Brasilia.
20. The capacity of mobilization of the Venezuelan people and their unity with the Armed Forces are a fundamental point of sustenance of the Maduro government.