The main Venezuelan opposition parties, united in a group called G4, announced on Tuesday (31) that they would participate in regional elections on November 21, when the country will choose new governors and mayors.
The decision breaks an election boycott by opponents that had lasted since 2017, when the Nicolás Maduro regime, through an election with several irregularities, imposed a Constituent Assembly on the country.
In 2018, Maduro’s own re-election was seen as illegitimate by the opposition, which was not present in the conflict. Then the head of the National Assembly, Juan Guaidó, declared himself interim president, saying there was a power vacuum.
The decision to end the boycott was announced at a press conference in Caracas by representatives of what is now known as the Unitarian Platform. The group will use the acronym of the MUD (Table of Democratic Unity), an anti-Chavista coalition that existed between 2009 and 2016, before being banned by the Maduro dictatorship. It is with this association that the opposition obtained the majority in the Assembly in 2015.
The new coalition has until Wednesday (1) to submit the names of its candidates to the CNE (National Council of Elections). Opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who had reservations about the opposition’s participation, believing that the conditions given “are not those of a free election”, asked the others to form a single list to compete for the election. National level.
“We are announcing to the national and international community our participation in the process of regional and municipal elections, after a long and difficult process of internal deliberation,” said Marianela Anzola, of the Un Nuevo Tiempo party. “We decided this way because of the difficult situation the country is going through, the state of emergency to find permanent solutions to our suffering and the goal of strengthening unity.”
In addition to Un Nuevo Tiempo, the G4 includes Voluntad Popular, Primero Justicia and Ação Democrática. Also in the interview were Tomás Guanipa (PJ), Henry Ramos Allup (AD) and Freddy Guevara (VP), among others.
“We had asked for three things: free elections, an end to usurpation and a transitional government. It was our wish and we thought it was non-negotiable. To dialogue and transform little by little,” said the former member of Congress Guevara.
He recently left the Helicoide, a prison for political prisoners, in a “gesture of rapprochement” with the dictatorship, as part of the negotiations that have been taking place since last month in Mexico.
Guevara will also join these discussions next Friday (3), when a new round of talks between the opposition and the dictatorship will take place, in Mexico City, with the mediation of Norway.
“We have many reasons not to believe in dialogue, we have been frustrated in the past. Now I think there is no other option, because solutions through violence are totally excluded.”
Voluntad Popular, like the rest of the G4, wanted Maduro to give in to the point of bringing the presidential elections forward, but Chavismo has made it clear that he will not succeed at this time. As the opposition fights for the release of more political prisoners, clear rules for elections, the empowerment of outlaw leaders and justice for human rights violations, the dictatorship seeks to lift sanctions international organizations against the country and its senior officials.
In return, the regime released prisoners such as Guevara and said the new CNE, which includes two non-Chavist members, will operate in full freedom. He also assured that the elections will have international observers, which was absent in previous elections.
Even with the severe economic crisis and the strong impacts of the pandemic in Venezuela, in addition to sanctions, Maduro’s regime still relies on strong activism and 15% popularity, according to the Dataanalysis Institute.
Despite the fact that more than 80% of the population wants changes, according to the same poll, the main opposition leaders, like Juan Guaidó (who have 25% of rejection), are exhausting themselves. More than 70% of Venezuelans believe that political parties act more in their own interests than for the well-being of the country.
On Monday (30), the NGO Human Rights Watch said it expected negotiations in Venezuela to focus “very concretely on how to rebuild the country, hold free elections and deal with the humanitarian emergency ”.
According to the United Nations, there are already 6 million Venezuelans who have left the country in recent years. “The international community must press for the release of more political prisoners,” said José Miguel Vivanco, the organization’s director for the Americas.