Venezuela’s ‘new opposition’ aggressively charting a third way

By Hector Pereira

Caracas, Jul 4 (EFE).- Venezuelan politicians who identify as members of the opposition but are harshly critical of the main anti-Chavista alliance have stirred up controversy in recent days with their all-out attack on the October presidential primaries.

Under the banner “a new opposition,” six alternative opposition hopefuls, apparently acting separately, say they will throw their hat in the ring for the 2024 presidential election without participating in a process they insist is fatally flawed.

Those politicians, who reject accusations of being in cahoots with the ruling leftist PSUV party, say the parties that make up the opposition Unitary Platform (PU) do not represent the desire for political change prevalent in the majority of the population.

One of these six individuals, Luis Ratti, who labels himself an independent, has been the most vehement in his criticism of the traditional opposition.

“Being of the opposition today isn’t being an opponent of the government. It’s being an opponent of what’s destroyed the country. And who have destroyed the country? The government and that opposition,” said the 44-year-old businessman, a former member of the Movement for Socialism (MAS) party that helped leftist Hugo Chavez rise to the presidency in 1999.

Chavez, who was the mentor of the nation’s current president, Nicolas Maduro, governed Venezuela until he died of cancer in 2013.

According to Ratti, the elections organized by the opposition’s “National Primary Commission” (CNP) are illegal because they allow the participation of ex-lawmaker Tamara Adrian, a transgender woman whose name change is not legally recognized in Venezuela, and of other politicians who have been politically disqualified by the Comptroller General’s Office.

He has petitioned the Supreme Court to dissolve the CNP and vowed to “expose” some prominent PU figures.

Even so, Ratti’s efforts will likely be in vain because the opposition primaries are a process independent of any Venezuelan government institution and therefore open even to politically disqualified candidates, among them Henrique Capriles, a two-time presidential candidate and former governor.

However, any barred candidate who were to emerge victorious would subsequently be blocked from registering to compete in the general election.

Lawmaker Jose Brito, likewise, says he wants to bring down those occupying “nefarious leadership positions” in both the government and opposition.

He added that this is a necessary step in building an “alternative for change” that is “very different to segmenting the country into factions.

After calling late last month on the Comptroller General’s Office to clarify the political status of Maria Corina Machado, he announced to the country four days later that the right-wing former lawmaker had been disqualified from holding public office for 15 years due to, among other reasons, her support for US sanctions on Venezuela.

That penalty affecting Machado, who will compete in October’s opposition primaries and is considered the frontrunner, makes it essential to “rethink matters,” Brito said.

Although denounced by the traditional opposition, the political disqualification of Machado was celebrated by Ratti, who said she should be tried for crimes against humanity.

Despite their attack on the primaries, Ratti and Brito still admit that ideally a unified opposition candidate would challenge Maduro next year and thus support the idea of forming a coalition outside the bounds of the PU.

For its part, Venezuela’s traditional opposition says it remains determined to hold the primaries and select its candidate via that process.

Maduro and the ruling leftist PSUV party, meanwhile, appear to be the biggest beneficiaries of the opposition spats and will be looking once again to conquer a divided rival. EFE


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