The Socialist International, a global coalition of radical leftist political parties, issued a statement Wednesday denouncing Venezuela’s socialist dictator Nicolás Maduro for staging a hostile takeover of the nation’s opposition parties, which are also socialist.
Maduro announced this summer that he planned to stage elections for seats in the National Assembly, the country’s legislature, to replace the entire body. The last National Assembly elections occurred in 2015 and resulted in a resounding defeat for Maduro’s United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), which is not a member of the Socialist International. In anticipation of the elections, Maduro replaced the member of the national electoral watchdog body with his loyalists and is forcing major opposition parties to dismantle.
“As previously denounced by the Socialist International, Nicolás Maduro and his regime have continued to implement their plan to eliminate the opposition political parties, the only democratic pillars that remain under the authoritarianism and dictatorship that reign in Venezuela,” the group asserted in a statement this week.
The Socialist International noted that two of the opposition parties that Maduro has commandeered are members of the Socialist International — Democratic Action (AD) and Popular Will.
The legitimate but powerless president of Venezuela, Juan Guaidó, was a member of Popular Will until this year. He stepped down from his position to focus on attempting to oust Maduro. Henry Ramos Allup, a senior member of AD, is also a vice president of the Socialist International.
“Maduro’s strategy of trying to eliminate, one by one, the democratic parties by transferring their leadership to followers of his regime or to those who are seeking positions from his hand, will never be recognized by true democrats or by the international community,” the Socialist International asserted. “Today what is known and shared throughout the world is the pain of the Venezuelans, of those who have lost relatives in the repression, of those who are today unjustly imprisoned or persecuted, of the sick without aid in these times of pandemic, of the emigrants, of those who are exiled or displaced who wish to return to their country, and of all those who are suffering the harsh consequences of the authoritarianism and chronic shortages in the country.”
The statement ended by relaying that the group’s “comrades” in Venezuela demand “freedom, … respect for the rights of all, and … democracy.”
“Only free and fair elections, as soon as possible, with the full participation of all those who respect the rules of democracy, can open the doors to a government for all, that prioritizes life, defeats poverty, and guarantees the liberties and rights of all Venezuelans,” the Socialist International asserted.
The Socialist International has been a consistent critic of the Maduro regime, which regularly uses state violence to silence and kill dissidents and has led the country to the worst humanitarian disaster in its existence. The group published a statement in 2017 declaring Venezuela a “failed state” under Maduro and calling for free and fair elections. In 2019, the Socialist International declared Maduro “illegitimate” after his term expired and he refused to leave — the National Assembly appointed Guaidó president to fill the legal void after Maduro’s term ended, as the Venezuelan constitution requires it to do.
The global cooperative has long played a key role in the anti-Maduro movement, its members elbowing Venezuela’s few conservatives out of a proper role in fighting socialism. Henry Ramos Allup was a core leader of the “Democratic Unity Roundtable” (MUD), a multi-party coalition that held “talks” with Maduro for years attempting to convince him to vacate power. The head of the Popular Will party, Leopoldo López, is perhaps Venezuela’s most famous political prisoner, arrested in 2014 for organizing peaceful protests against Maduro and sentenced to 13 years in prison for “terrorism” a year later. After years of political pressure, Maduro moved López into house arrest, which he escaped with Guaidó’s help last year.
The leaders of these socialist parties may lose their official status entirely in the near future due to new illegal moves on Maduro’s part to replace their leadership. Maduro hand-picked personal allies to run the parties presumably running elections against his own PSUV, including the two mentioned above and a third, non-socialist party, Justice First.
“The dictatorship’s persecution scheme began not just with taking away political party credentials, but with extortion and bribes towards some lawmakers, now sanctioned by the European Union, the United States, and Switzerland,” Guaidó denounced this week. “This is an extortion, bribery, and persecution scheme against political leadership. It has been a well-elaborated scheme.”
Guaidó has not put forth a public plan for preventing Maduro from executing fraudulent elections this year, which would depose the only democratically elected institution left in the country. Maduro has already spent years usurping power from the National Assembly through the creation of a parallel loyalist lawmaking body, the “National Constituent Assembly,” in 2017.