Against the ropes, Venezuelan opposition must decide if it goes to presidential

Ⓒ afp/AFP – Erika SANTELICES – | Dominican Foreign Minister Miguel Vargas Maldonado (D) welcomes Venezuelan opposition deputy Julio Borges to the Dominican Foreign Ministry before a meeting between representatives of the Venezuelan government and members of the opposition in Santo Domingo on January 29. 2018

The Venezuelan opposition, divided and with a crisis of leadership, must resolve if it participates in the presidential elections of April 22, elections that augur more international isolation for the government of Nicolás Maduro and economic deterioration.

The adversaries of Maduro received like a hammer the decision of the electoral power to fix the date of the anticipated elections, after being shipwrecked on Wednesday a negotiation with the government to agree that point and the guarantees of the process.

“We are like boxers who have received so many blows that we are stunned,” admitted Julio Borges, chief negotiator of the coalition Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD), which accuses the electoral body of serving the government.

As a first shock, Borges announced meetings between leaders of the MUD and social sectors to chart the way forward, as well as a new international tour to denounce the political and socioeconomic crisis.

And recognizing that one of the biggest pitfalls of the alliance is its deep divisions, he called for unity to prevent the reelection of Maduro for six more years. “Without unity, we are dead,” he warned.

The advance of the votes was rejected by the United States and the European Parliament, which promised not to sit idly by.

– The dilemma –

The MUD – comprised of some thirty parties – is divided by differences over the strategy to get Maduro out of power, an objective that had a dramatic chapter in 2017 with protests that left about 125 dead.

And it looks weak, with its main leaders politically disabled and the distrust of a sector for having dialogue with a government that it calls “dictatorship”.

Now, with the elections over, is at the crossroads of going or not to the polls. But he has another challenge: to choose a consensus candidate with time against, since the inscriptions will be from February 24 to 26.

Borges cited two of the scenarios analyzed by the MUD: marginalize or register a candidate to highlight the “irregularities” of the process.

A consensus looks complex, which favors the aspiration of Maduro, who drags a huge popular rejection by the economic crisis, but has managed to crack their enemies, according to analysts consulted by the AFP.

“The victory of Maduro is clear, unless the opposition achieves some unitary decision,” says political scientist Francine Jácome.

At the risk of further breakdowns, the opposition forces should not participate, esteems Leandro Area. “It is not about abstaining, but about not being a party to a fraud,” he says.

But other experts like Luis Salamanca observe that the electoral path is the one that has “the most possibilities” of generating changes, without excluding the pressure of the street and diplomatic.

– “Demolishing impact” –

The participation of the MUD would clash with the warning of several countries not to recognize an election called by the ruling Constituent Assembly that governs with full powers, which they consider illegitimate.

Ⓒ afp/AFP – Erika SANTELICES – | The president of the Venezuelan Constituent Assembly, Delcy Rodriguez (I) and her brother, the communications minister, and the head of the negotiating delegation Jorge Rodríguez (2-D), are received by Dominican Foreign Minister Miguel Vargas Maldonado (2-I). ) before a meeting with members of the Venezuelan opposition, in Santo Domingo on January 29, 2018.

Washington said on Thursday it will continue to “pressure the regime” of Maduro to restore democracy, while the European Parliament announced that it will only recognize elections with “fair, fair and transparent” conditions and asked to sanction Maduro.

The United States, in turn, threatens to restrict oil imports from Venezuela.

Maduro accuses the government of Donald Trump of propitiating his overthrow by means of an “economic war” to seize the largest oil reserve in the world.

“An election proposed in these terms will not give Maduro legitimacy of origin before the international community,” said Jácome.

“It is difficult to imagine that he can remain in power in these conditions beyond one or two years,” the consultancy Eurasia Group estimated, although he pointed out that a “regime change” is unlikely in these elections.

The decision of the International Criminal Court to open preliminary examinations for “alleged crimes” in Venezuela during the 2017 protests was added to the multiple drifts of the crisis on Thursday. The government rejected it.

Maduro, a 55-year-old bus driver, bases his strength on a tight institutional control, which includes the military.

However, this enormous power did not stop the economic collapse: dependent on the diminished oil income, the country is in recession since 2014, hyperinflation would climb to 13,000% this year according to the IMF, and the shortage of food and medicine is chronic.

All this has generated a diaspora, especially towards neighboring Colombia, which on Thursday announced more controls at the border.

“The expected impact is devastating” for the economy “and we will all experience it, without guarantee of political change,” warned the president of the Datanalisis polling firm, Luis Vicente León.

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