Venezuela: Key Opposition Leader Leaves Coalition, Citing Socialist Within

Opposition presidential candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski greets supporters with his mother, Monica Radonski, during a campaign rally in Caracas, Venezuela, on Sunday. Capriles is running against President Hugo Chavez in the country's Oct. 7 election. (photo credit: Rodrigo Abd/AP Photo)
Rodrigo Abd/AP Photo

The Venezuelan opposition coalition is continuing to fracture after leader Henrique Capriles Radonski said he would no longer work with Henry Ramos Allup, a socialist member of the anti-Maduro coalition.

The coalition, known as the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), was formed in January 2008 to unify opposition against the late socialist president Hugo Chávez and current dictator Nicolás Maduro. It remains the largest block in the country’s democratically-elected National Assembly, and is comprised of a number of right-wing, centrist, and left-wing parties.

Venezuelans have accused the group of letting them down as the Maduro regime continues to consolidate its power with the creation of a fraudulent lawmaking superbody known as the “national constituents assembly,” (ANC) as well as the recent regional elections in which they claim to have won a majority of governorships.

Capriles, whose Justice First party represents the center-right, claimed that he would no longer participate in coalition meetings as long as National Assembly leader and Secretary-General of the center-left Democratic Action (AD) party Henry Ramos Allup remained involved.

Allup also serves as a vice president of the Socialist International.

“I speak not for my party but for myself. As long as Ramos Allup remains in the coalition, I will not retain my seat at the table,” he said. “Nothing happens in Democratic Action unless it has been authorized by Ramos Allup.”

The governors elected from the MUD coalition who belong to Ramos Allup’s party have accepted being sworn into their positions by the “constituents assembly,” thereby legitimizing the unconstitutional body. Capriles has declared this an unacceptable move consolidating Maduro’s power, as the ANC exists solely to deprive the legitimate National Assembly and its opposition majority of their constitutional power.

Capriles went on to describe the coalition as a patient suffering from a tumor, and warned that it was “time to remove the tumor and cure the patient: Venezuela.”

Ramos Allup responded to Capriles’ remarks by dismissing him as a “coward.”

Recent disunity in opposition ranks emerged in the run-up to the most recent regionals elections, with figures such as Vente Venezuela leader María Corina Machado and former mayor of Caracas Antonio Ledezma warning that participation would only legitimize the government’s position.

Meanwhile, opposition leaders including Capriles, a two-time presidential candidate, and wife of Popular Will party leader and prisoner of conscience Leopoldo López, Lilian Tintori, urged people to challenge the regime through the ballot box.

Maduro’s ruling socialist party stormed the regional elections by winning 17 of 24 governorships, despite opinion polls in the run-up to the elections showing that a commanding lead for coalition candidates against their socialist counterparts. The State Department has since revealed that the elections were rigged amid widespread voter fraud and electoral manipulation.

Yet as the few remaining opposition governors boycott the swearing-in ceremony to protest the elections, Maduro has since appointed four “guarantors” to monitor opposition governors in their home states, and has warned of repeat elections if the opposition governors-elect continue to refuse to be sworn in by the unconstitutional lawmaking body, which includes his own wife and son.

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