The opposition to Venezuela’s dictatorship, including the wing led by Juan Guaidó, announced on Tuesday that it will run in regional elections scheduled for November 21, after refusing to participate in last year’s December legislative election, considering the fraudulent process.
“We announce to the national and international community our participation in the regional and municipal process of November 21, 2021, with the acronym of the Table of Democratic Unity (MUD)”, says a statement from the unitary platform, which groups the main opposition parties, read in press conference in Caracas.
Opponents said in the text that they know that these elections “will be neither fair nor conventional”. “The dictatorship has imposed serious obstacles that put the Venezuelan people’s expression of change at risk,” they say. However, they emphasized that this electoral process will be “a useful ground of struggle” to promote the solution of the “serious crisis in our country: free presidential and legislative elections”.
The opposition did not participate in the 2018 elections, which gave another mandate to dictator Nicolás Maduro, nor in the 2020 election for Parliament, two electoral processes considered fraudulent by the Venezuelan opposition and much of the international community.
The act was attended by several opposition leaders, such as Henry Ramos Allup, leader of the Social Democratic Action Democratic Party (AD), and Tomás Guanipa, from the First Justice (PJ), of which the two-time presidential candidate Henrique Capriles is integral.
On June 29, the National Electoral Council of Venezuela (CNE) authorized the MUD coalition, which had been disabled since 2018 and is the largest opposition coalition to the regime of dictator Nicolás Maduro, to participate in the election.
The unitary platform made the decision to run in the November elections “after an extensive and difficult process of internal deliberation that involved local, regional and national leaders”.
“We are thrilled with the difficult situation our country is going through, with the sense of urgency to find permanent solutions to our problems and with the purpose of strengthening unity,” the statement said.
The decision to go to the polls “complements the efforts being made in Mexico”, where representatives of the dictatorship and the opposition have started negotiations “and are aiming for a peaceful and negotiated solution”, according to the statement.
Capriles had already shown support for the idea of opponents going to the polls on November 21, but Guaidó had been reluctant to do so.
Guaidó demands guarantees of free elections
After the opposition’s announcement, Juan Guaidó, former president of the National Assembly, demanded guarantees for “free and fair” regional elections in November in Venezuela.
“The conditions for free and fair elections must be consolidated. Those who decided to participate and those who decided not to participate, we fight for liberation and democracy, to get out of tragedy, on the streets, or in Mexico. We fight for conditions to get out of the dictatorship.” said Guaidó in a series of messages posted on Twitter.
Dictator Nicolás Maduro reacted with sarcasm to the announcement of the opposition’s participation in the elections. “I’m going to sit in my armchair, turn on the television and watch Guaidó voting on the 21st, and I’ll applaud because we managed to include him in democracy,” he said during an act on Tuesday.
Guaidó responded to the provocation, referring to the negotiations taking place in Mexico. “Mature: be serious. We all know that today there are no conditions or guarantees for a free and fair election. So much so that you are sitting as a counterpart in an international negotiation process that seeks these electoral and political guarantees and an electoral calendar.” .
The second meeting between the dictatorship and the Venezuelan opposition in Mexico City is scheduled for Friday, September 3rd. The dialogue is mediated by Norway. A group of friendly countries participates in the dialogue, and Russia participates as a country accompanying the Maduro regime, while the Netherlands is accompanying the opposition delegation.
Mature “applauds” opposition decision
Dictator Nicolás Maduro said on Tuesday that it is “worthy of applause” that Venezuela’s opposition made the decision to contest the Nov. 21 regional and municipal elections.
“I ask for applause for the G-4 (group of the four biggest opposition parties) and for its announcement, I ask for applause, because it is worthy of applauding the political gesture of participating in the elections,” Maduro said at an event of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) broadcast by the state channel VTV.
Maduro declared that the November 21 elections will be “a total triumph of Chavista political culture”, described by him as “democratic and inclusive”.
“No one will ever be able to dream of taking power without first going through the ballot boxes, because the problems of Venezuelans (…) we will solve them ourselves,” he said.
For the dictator, popular sovereignty “imposed itself once again and will impose a great victory on November 21”, because “a cycle of political stability was opened that should last at least until 2030”.
Also according to Maduro, the participation of the opposition in the elections was possible thanks to the mediation of the president of the Parliament and head of his regime’s delegation in negotiations with the opposition, Jorge Rodríguez. “He convinced them, in my name,” he assured.