The leader of Venezuela’s Democratic Action party, Henry Ramos Allup, made various remarks during the Globovision program Vladimir at One in which he sharpened the internal divisions of Venezuela’s political opposition.
Among his most noteworthy comments was the tacit recognition of the results announced by the National Electoral Council. These gave Chavismo 18 of the regional governorships with 54 percent of the total national vote, while the opposition won 5 governorships with 45 percent of the vote.
Speaking in measured terms so as to try and avoid worsening the internal differences in the opposition coalition, Allup spoke about the elections on Sunday October 15th in terms of an event with irregularities and disadvantages for the opposition that favored Chavismo.
However, nowhere in the interview did he cast doubt on the results. He even admitted that abstention by the opposition base was the factor that most influenced the defeat of opposition candidates.
On the relocating of 279 voting centers by the National Electoral Council, which the opposition allege put them disadvantage and rendered the election fraudulent, the Democratic Action leader noted “it is very difficult to say how much this affected the vote”.
Allup expressed surprise at the results in the states of Lara, Miranda and Falcón, where the opposition expected to win against Chavismo. But far from suggesting a manipulation of the vote, Allup said that already on election day afternoon his party had information saying that the participation of opposition voters was slowing, which augured a positive result for Chavismo.
Other important Democratic Action leaders like Antonio Ecarri Bolivar (the party’s vice president), have also made similar statements, arguing that the results derive from abstention rather than some alleged fraud and he even suggested the opposition governors might attend the National Consitutent Assembly to take their oath of office.
In the immediate short term, these statements have political implications that weaken the fragile opposition coalition. While more radical sectors led by the Popular Will party claim fraud so as to legitimize themselves to their supporters and make themselves look more credible to interventionist forces overseas, so-called moderates like Democratic Action, the New Time and the Progressive Advance parties, among others, are taking advantage of the governorships they have won to position themselves for opposition leadership in future elections.
When asked about the Organization of American States Secretary General Luis Almagro’s criticism of the Venezuelan opposition for participating in the regional elections, Allup said, “I think Almagro is completely mistaken. When we took part in the legislative elections of 2015, were we validating the government then?”
Allup recommended that Almagro “reconsider his position” and stop “trying to give us lessons from the outside” because it is Democratic Action, not Almagro and the OAS, that leads the Venezuelan opposition. Allup described Almagro’s declarations as “unhelpful."
Reading between the lines, Allup was reclaiming overall leadership of the Venezuelan opposition, which is why he avoided refusing to recognize the regional election results which have established Democratic Action as the main political force confronting Chavismo.
Luis Almagro has served as a functionary of the U.S. State Department’s policy of intervention and sanctions against Venezuela, which explains the very obvious special treatment and coordination with the Venezuela’s Popular Will opposition party in his maneuvers from the OAS in recent years.
Henry Ramos Allup’s criticism of Almagro deepens the Venezuelan’s opposition’s internal conflict extending it to the international arena involving various overseas interests struggling to unify Venezuela’s anti-Chavismo forces around a single policy.
These considerations may well explain the meager pronouncements of the so called Lima Group of governments and of the European Union, which have limited themselves to calls for “an independent audit” of the election results. For their part, U.S. Congress members like Marco Rubio and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, architects of the U.S. sanctions against Venezuela, have hardened their position, along with the U.S. State Department, that the election results are “illegitimate” and grounds for increasing sanctions against Venezuela.
So it looks as though under any possible political and electoral scenario the Venezuelan opposition are likely to become even more divided.
The contradictions between Luis Almagro and Popular Will on the one hand who have adopted the policy of claiming electoral fraud and the position of Democratic Action’s leaders not only affects the opposition’s domestic political support but also stops their international allies from risking new pressure on Venezuela. The regional elections have made clearer than ever the opposition’s dependence on political and electoral extortion by foreign countries using siege tactics like financial boycott and sanctions affecting the national economy
The opposition’s outlook continues to be bleak. No glimmer of light shines at the end of the tunnel unless the Western powers continue ramping up sanctions with no guarantee they will succeed in overthrowing Chavismo.
The results of the Oct. 15 elections make it clear that Chavismo is the only political force capable of governing and stabilizing a Venezuela subjected to a state of siege from overseas.