A team of former deputies, led by Dinorah Figuera, was chosen to replace Juan Guaidó as the face of the parallel National Assembly that the opponents have unanimously extended. While the official legislators ratified Jorge Rodríguez as the president of parliament.
The two legislative bodies that Venezuela has were renewed on Thursday, January 5, with the election of their new leaders. On the one hand, the National Assembly with an official majority re-elected Jorge Rodríguez as its president for the third consecutive year. While the National Assembly of the opposition put a woman in charge for the first time: Dinorah Figuera.
In the 2015 elections, the opponents won most of the seats in the National Assembly. But in 2020, parties critical of Chavismo refused to participate in the elections, claiming that there were no guarantees. Thus, the oficialistas stayed with the Legislative; while opponents of the 2015 Assembly continued to extend their term despite having no votes.
And it was that mandate that they extended again on Thursday, through a virtual meeting. The opposition Parliament of Venezuela appointed three exiled legislators at the head of its board, replacing Juan Guaidó, whose “interim government” was ended by the same parliamentarians.
In this way, Figuera was elected, exiled for years in Spain and from the Primero Justicia party. She will be joined as vice presidents of the National Assembly by the lawyer Marianela Fernández, from Un Nuevo Tiempo; and trade unionist Auristela Vásquez, from the Acción Democrática party.
The three of them will be in charge of creating a commission for the opposition to control foreign assets and they also have among their responsibilities to choose the five members of said group. Control of the assets and funds that Venezuela has in other territories is key for the opposition, and it is one of the issues most debated by them since the end of the “interim government” they created. In this sense, the most important asset is the US oil refiner Citgo, a subsidiary of the Venezuelan state PDVSA. Opponents want the United States to continue protecting this company from possible embargoes.
In turn, the new leaders of the opposition National Assembly represent three parties that pushed for Guaidó’s removal as a way to reconnect with disillusioned voters ahead of next year’s presidential election. In fact, the alliance of Acción Democrática, Primero Justicia and Un Nuevo Tiempo is known as G3 and it was these groups that promoted the vote on December 30, 2022 that ended the ‘interim government’ self-proclaimed by Guaidó.
But the new board of directors for the period 2023-2024 was not approved unanimously, since it did not have the vote of the faction of the Voluntad Popular (VP) party, led by Leopoldo López and in which Guaidó has made a good part of his race.
The collective saved their votes because they reject the idea that the leadership of the opposition class remains in the hands of people who reside outside of Venezuela. In this regard, the leader of VP Sonia Medina criticized the appointment of a person in exile, since the “fight of the Venezuelans is on the ground, it is in Venezuela”, for which she considered that “a concession is being made to the dictatorship” and “leaving alone” the people.
The VP faction saves its vote in today’s installation session of the AN. It is not a gender issue, it is a matter of responsibility and facing the country. With respect to my colleagues, I note that today a concession has been made to the regime by appointing a directive in exile. pic.twitter.com/M176z7SXWG
— Sonia Medina (@SoniaMedinaSC) January 6, 2023
“Rescue the unity” of the opposition
After being sworn in, Figuera expressed in her first speech that she assumes the presidency with “responsibility” and “great humility”, and that one of the first challenges will be to “strengthen the fight to initially rescue unity”, in addition to ” build a path that supports all the necessary measures to be able to have free, democratic, transparent and credible elections”.
“All of us who are here, including those who do not agree with this designation, we have to bet on unity, (…) we are working and defending Venezuelans against a harsh dictatorship, the dictatorship of Nicolás Maduro,” said the surgeon, resident in Spain.
He also vowed to work to protect the OPEC nation’s extensive oil assets abroad, including the Houston-based Citgo refinery, from seizure by a long list of creditors swindled by Maduro’s boondoggles over the years. years.
“I am convinced that this Parliament will raise the flag of faith, hope and justice,” Figuera said in the session, which was held virtually, in a Zoom meeting, because many opposition politicians like her have fled from Venezuela in recent years.
The dissolution of the 2019 ‘interim government’
In January 2019, the then opposition-controlled National Assembly voted to stop recognizing Maduro as president after several frontline opponents were barred from running against him. He then named Guaidó to be the nation’s “interim president,” according to the order of succession outlined in Venezuela’s constitution. His nomination was due, in large part, to the fact that he was one of the few leaders of his Popular Will party to avoid arrest or exile.
Guaidó was quickly recognized as the legitimate leader of Venezuela by the United States and dozens of governments in Europe and Latin America. But his “interim government” was unable to win over the military, the traditional arbiter of political disputes in Venezuela, and the five-year term of the opposition-controlled National Assembly officially ended at the end of 2020.
With leftist leaders winning elections across Latin America in recent years, the US-led international coalition to pressure Maduro has also frayed. Colombia, Brazil and Spain are among the countries that recently re-established diplomatic ties.
What future does Juan Guaidó have?
Juan Guaidó, at Thursday’s meeting, thanked his many supporters, both domestic and foreign, in what was akin to a farewell speech.
Standing before a lectern bearing the Venezuelan presidential seal, Guaidó, 39, said he would remain in Venezuela – despite calls for his arrest by Maduro’s most radical supporters – and urged his successors to rebuild the necessary unity. to overthrow Maduro.
“We cannot create a power vacuum that only benefits the de facto dictator,” he said. However, Guaidó’s departure from the political scene may only be temporary.
Although he is no longer the harbinger of hope that he was when he emerged from obscurity amid a wave of street protests to challenge the Maduro government, he remains a popular figure in the otherwise rudderless opposition, admired for his courage and commitment to the cause of democracy in Venezuela, if not for always offering results.
He is expected to be among those who will compete in the opposition primaries this year to see who runs against Maduro in 2024.
With EFE, AP and Reuters
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