|Venezuelan people take part in a parade to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Venezuela's independence in Caracas April 19, 2010. (Xinhua/Juan Carlos Hernandez)|
This week Venezuela’s pool of opposition political parties announced plans to create a “unified electoral ticket” for next year’s presidential election in an attempt to garner enough votes to prevent Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez from winning another six-year term (2013-2019).
The new opposition “strategy” was unveiled on Saturday when spokesman Ramon Guillermo Aveledo told reporters that the opposition’s Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) had decided it will use a “single unitary” electoral ballot in its attempt to defeat Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in next year’s presidential election.
The opposition’s decision is “a symbol” of the opposition’s “commitment to unity”, affirmed Aveledo, who went on to explain that each of the opposition’s major political parties is likely to maintain its own electoral ballot and that this “unitary compromise” does not apply to elections for mayor and/or governor also expected in 2012.
Venezuela’s National Electoral Council (CNE) has yet to announce the exact date of next year’s presidential elections or the dates of next year’s elections for mayors and governors. Suggestions have been made that one single election will be scheduled, allowing voters to elect their national, regional and local representatives all on the same day.
“If a certain party wants to use its own symbols (emblems, colors, mottos) in support of the MUD, that’s fine; just like it’s fine for them to set those symbols aside and join the MUD ticket”, explained Aveledo. The MUD, which includes an atypical mix of extreme-right, traditional conservative, and frustrated leftist parties was formed in 2008 as an electoral tool aimed at confronting the pro-Chavez United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) in September 2010 National Assembly elections.
The PSUV, founded in 2007, is currently Venezuela’s largest political party with an estimated seven million members. To guarantee Chavez’s reelection in 2012, pro-Chavez forces have begun forming the Polo Patriotico, or Patriotic Pole, a coalition that includes the governing PSUV, the Venezuelan Communist Party (PCV), and numerous grassroots social movements.
Cilia Flores, socialist assemblywoman and Vice President of the PSUV, responded to the MUD’s recent announcement by asserting that opposition forces are looking to disguise ongoing “infighting” with a “false show of unity”. The opposition’s electoral ticket, she said, “is not singular, nor unified. It’s not even one single ticket, but one more among many”.
According to Flores, the MUD presidential ticket is nothing more than another attempt to “show unity where none exists”. In a televised interview on Monday, Venezuelan Foreign Minister and PSUV Vice President Nicolas Maduro told viewers that opposition parties have one uniting force, “the sectors of transnational power, especially those in the United States” that finance their efforts. Maduro reiterated Flores’ assertions that the opposition seeks to “swindle its own voters” by creating “false illusions of unity” and added that the opposition’s “unity ends up being secured by the (US) embassy”.
The Foreign Minister pointed out that 14 of the opposition’s possible presidential candidates have already traveled to Washington “to ask for its (Washington’s) blessing before launching their presidential bids”.
Maduro went on to assert that Venezuelan President Chavez will win his reelection bid next year because Chavez is united with “the most humble of this country, those who had always been forgotten, those who have awoken as part of this Revolution and those who have now become incorporated into political power”.
President Chavez, who recently confirmed he has every intent on running in, and winning, next year’s presidential elections, said the Venezuelan people must “unmask” the opposition’s plans for next year.
According to Chavez, the opposition “claims it’s us (socialists) that are divided” when in fact “they are the ones living through the night of the long knives”. Opposition forces, affirmed Chavez, “are attacking, stabbing each other in the back, as they define their candidates for governor in the states of Aragua, Bolivar, Carabobo, Miranda and Zulia”.
The President also said that opposition spokespeople have “already begun talking about Cubans manipulating the electoral registry, people’s identifications and voting machines”, as a way of trying to promote a perception of electoral fraud, in the likely event Chavez wins.
Beyond the “farce” announced last weekend, said Chavez, the opposition’s plans for next year’s elections include “taking to the streets, creating disturbances and chaos, discrediting the armed forces and claiming that Cubans are somehow in charge”.
“At the hour of our Bolivarian victory”, Chavez concluded, the opposition’s only real plan is “to cry fraud”. Chavez also pointed out that among his popular base in the PSUV, allied political parties, and grassroots social movements in both urban and rural areas, “we have unity, loyalty, a single political project and an ideology”.
The President also explained that he has already begun outliningnhis program for the 2013-2019 presidential term, a program which includes “transitioning away from capitalism’s perversity” and overcoming “the cultural, moral damage, the destruction of values, of nationality, of the self-esteem of Venezuelans” caused by capitalist relations of production, distribution and consumption.
In the country’s previous presidential election (2006), Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez won 7,309,080 of the votes, or 62.84%, against the opposition’s Manuel Rosales, who garnered 4,292,466 votes (36.90%). The opposition’s Rosales later abandoned his post as mayor of Maracaibo and fled the country to avoid charges of stealing public funds, accepting bribes for public contracts and hoarding lands and capital using front names and companies. He currently lives in self-imposed exile in Peru, though he has suggested he might return to Venezuela to participate in the opposition’s presidential primaries set for February 2012.
Referring to possible opposition candidates, including Rosales, Maria Corina Machado, and Henrique Capriles Radonski, Chavez affirmed “those people are incapable of running the country. It would be the disaster of all disasters”.
“They aren’t unified”, affirmed Chavez. “The only thing they are is a threat to this country, and we take it upon ourselves to ensure that they don’t become that threat” by winning the election, said Chavez.