Venezuela’s Henrique Capriles Finally Rejects Maduro-Led Election

Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles speaks to supporters and reporters during a meeting in Caracas, Venezuela, Friday, April, 7, 2017. Capriles announced that he has been banned from running for office for 15 years, a move sure to ratchet up tensions amid a growing street protest movement. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)
AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos

Venezuelan opposition leader and former governor of Miranda state Henrique Capriles Radonski withdrew his support on Wednesday for participation in the Maduro regime’s upcoming legislative elections, demanding the European Union observe them.

Addressing his followers via social media, Capriles said that the lack of foreign observation and the ongoing Chinese coronavirus pandemic meant the elections should be postponed until next year.

“This election has to be postponed, we ask that it be postponed, we demand that it be postponed … due to the pandemic, due to the situation in the country and for the election to serve Venezuela,” said the two-time presidential candidate and former leader of the center-left Justice First Party.

Capriles, who had previously advocated participation in the elections despite dictator Nicolás Maduro appointing socialist cronies to count the votes, added that there were currently “no conditions at this time” in which he would go to the polls.

“If they do not postpone, there is no way [I can participate], as the election will not serve the country,” he said, but explained that if they were to be delayed and supervised by the European Union then he would change his mind once again. “It is a matter of having the will to resolve, postpone, and ensuring there is observation.”

The European Union has not ruled out the possibility of participating but informed Caracas that the process should be postponed until next year, a proposal Maduro rejected.

Capriles came up with the idea last month to participate in the National Assembly elections, the country’s last democratically elected lawmaking body, controlled by the opposition. The National Assembly used its constitutional powers last year to legally replace Maduro as president following the expiration of his term in January and appoint President Juan Guaidó as the interim head of state.

Capriles’ call to participate in elections was widely unpopular and derided by nearly every prominent opposition leader, who pointed to the fact the majority of elections over the past decade have been rigged in favor of Maduro’s United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV). Guaidó temporarily flirted with the idea of supporting Capriles but backed out after failing to convince conservative leader María Corina Machado to support the effort.

Since assuming power in 2015, Venezuela’s National Assembly has presented the socialist regime with numerous challenges, leading Maduro to set his sights on seizing back control of the chamber. Failing to do so, Maduro attempted to create a parallel congress, “national constituents assembly,” a fraudulent body filled with his socialist allies – including his wife and son – that effectively usurps the power of the National Assembly.

Last month, Maduro accused President Donald Trump, who has supported efforts to remove him from office and instigate a transition to democracy, of attempting to “sabotage” the process, without explaining exactly how he intended to do this.

“The government of Donald Trump gave the order to sabotage the parliamentary elections in Venezuela, but it seems that, step by step, another national, sovereign opposition is emerging,” Maduro said during a military award ceremony on Tuesday, without providing any evidence for the claim. “Capriles and his buddy [President Juan] Guaidó personalize everything, but they do not realize that it is not Maduro, it is the people that rule. Capriles understands this, given the people have defeated him twice.”

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