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What’s Next for the Venezuelan Opposition?

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(AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

On December 30, the opposition-led National Assembly was elected in 2015 in Venezuela vote to eliminate the figure of the “interim government.” This effectively ended the internal leadership role of Juan Guaidó, who had been recognized by the US government and some of his allies as the interim president of Venezuela from 2019. Three of the four major opposition parties (Un Nuevo Tiempo, Primero Justicia, and Acción Democratica) in the 2015 National Assembly in favor of ending the opposition’s demand for an interim government as of January 4, and Voluntad Popular (led by Guaidó’s mentor Leopoldo López) and members of several small parties protested. This vote showed that many members of the opposition see the need for a change of strategy, especially with presidential elections coming up in 2024.

After it was first created in 2019, it was supported by the interim government more than 60 percent of Venezuelansand Guaidó was recognized internationally as interim president by almost 60 countriesincluding the United States – although most of these countries have maintained diplomatic relations with Maduro’s de facto government. However, as the Covid-19 pandemic hit and Maduro’s regime tightened civic spaces, Guaidó struggled to gain traction in the fight for democracy and his popularity declined as people lost faith in the interim government’s ability to initiate a democratic transition. In 2020, a study by the Venezuelan pollster Datanalisis found that Guaidó’s approval was only 26 percent in May 2020, and Maduro’s at 13 percent. This growing discontent became more evident in the recent vote to end the interim government, where 78 members of the National Assembly voted in favour, 29 were against and 8 abstained.

The December 30th vote is a new path forward for the Unitary Platform, a broad opposition political alliance represented by the negotiating team participating in the Mexico City dialogue process. There are new questions about its internal structure and unity, as well as how this change in strategy will affect the opposition’s primary elections expected to take place this year, ahead of the 2024 presidential elections in Venezuela. This vote also showed increased division among the opposition, especially between Voluntad Popular and the other three opposition parties, Acción Democrática, Primero Justicia and Un Nuevo Tiempo. On January 12, and the representatives of the Ardán Aunitach negotiating team was in WashingtonLeopoldo López (leader of Voluntad Popular and mentor to Guaidó) publicly criticized the other parties, and they claimed that two of their negotiators had been co-opted by Maduro. In response, the Unitary Platform released a statement expressing their commitment to the Venezuelan people and emphasizing the importance of unity, saying “The enemy is in Miraflores, not among us.” With these internal divisions, the challenge going forward is less the removal of the interim government itself, but what that structural change means for how the opposition will reframe and reorganize itself to find a unified candidate before the 2024 elections.

After the dissolution of the interim government, the 2015 National Assembly will form a a series of committees that will oversee aspects of governance previously handled by the interim government. To guide these committees, on January 5 the body is controlled by the opposition three lawyers were appointed in exile who currently live in Spain and the United States as the new leaders of the legislature. Dinorah Figueraa surgeon in exile in Spain since she was forced to flee Venezuela in 2018, who will be president of the assembly, with Marianela Fernandez serving as first vice president and Auristela Vasquez as second vice president. As the first all-female leadership of the opposition in Venezuela, these women represent the opposition parties Primero Justicia, Un Nuevo Tiempo and Acción Democrática, respectively.

Ar 10 JanuaryFiguera introduced the Commission of Delegates, which will be the functional body of the National Assembly 2015 throughout 2023. Figuera announced the 15 permanent committees that will make up the commission and appointed presidents and vice presidents for each of them. Four of these committees will be led by Acción Democratica, four by Primero Justicia, three by Un Nuevo Tiempo, two by Voluntad Popular and two by a smaller party called Encuentro Ciudadano. estos committees dealing with a range of issues, including domestic policy, foreign policy, finance, energy and petroleum, defense and security, social development, indigenous peoples and the environment. This year, the commission responsible for the The Board of Directors and Asset Protection (The Asset Management and Protection Board) and supervise their work. With the dissolution of the interim government, this board is the only body that can be accepted protection of assets and funds held abroad as a result of sanctionson behalf of the 2015 National Assembly.

As the opposition adjusts to the new leadership within the 2015 National Assembly, the question of the 2024 presidential candidates for the opposition remains. Action Democratic was the first party to announce a presidential candidate, naming Carlos Prosperi and smaller parties such as Causa R, Vente Venezéla, Encuentro Ciudadano and Concertación Ciudadana they also declared their candidates: Andrés Velásquez, María Corina Machado, Delsa Solórzano and César Péres Vivas. Am Nua, Justice First and Beidha Chitianta have yet to officially nominate candidates, however Popular Will is expected to confirm Juan Guaidó and yes at least three people interested in Primero Justicia (Henrique Capriles, Carlos Ocariz and Juan Pablo Guanipa) going for the slot. However, it remains unclear whether the opposition parties will decide to run with their own candidates or band together to support a unified opposition candidate for the 2024 presidential elections.

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