Capriles breaks with Guaidó (Sept. 3, 2020)
Henrique Capriles, a popular Venezuelan opposition politician and two-time presidential candidate, said it's time to play (electoral) ball. He said yesterday that the opposition should fight to create fair conditions in December's legislative elections, a significant break with the boycott supported by the main opposition leader Juan Guaidó. (See yesterday's briefs.)
“We can’t keep playing at government on the internet,” Capriles said in an internet broadcast that swiped at Guaidó, who is recognized as the country's legitimate leader by a chunk of the international community. “Either you’re government, or you’re opposition. You can’t be both.”
The move is a major fissure among the opposition, which, while traditionally fractious, has been fairly united behind Guaidó for the past year and a half. Yesterday Capriles criticized what he called blunders under the Guaidó leadership that have undermined confidence in the opposition, reports the Wall Street Journal. They included a botched raid by a mercenary force in May and a failed military uprising in April 2019.
Guaidó said, yesterday, that opposition to Maduro requires unity and putting national interests above personal concerns. (Efecto Cocuyo)
The crux of the question is whether the opposition should participate in elections that will renew the country's National Assembly in December. National and international observers say conditions are inadequate for free and fair elections, but others are concerned that a boycott means relinquishing a chance to challenge the Maduro government. While the elections don't meet anybody's definition of "free and fair" an abstention strategy by itself is not enough, said Venezuela’s Episcopal Conference, last month. (See Aug. 21's briefs.)
Capriles and legislator Stalin Gonzalez have been in talks with the government over possible participation in the upcoming congressional election, reports Reuters. Capriles himself is banned from participating, and it's unclear how he would field candidates or what his decision to break with the boycott will concretely imply, notes the Associated Press.
The Maduro government is anxious to attract enough candidates to provide at least a veneer of legitimacy to the elections, and earlier this week pardoned dozens of political opponents. Capriles is credited with behind the scenes negotiations for those pardons. (See Tuesday's post.)
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I hope you're all staying safe and as sane as possible, given the circumstances ... Comments and critiques welcome, always.