Photo: Raul Stolk

For the past six years, the Bolivarian Revolution has been focusing on its strategy to consolidate a political system with an “hegemonic party.”

It began before the presidential election of 2012, with the intervention of Podemos and PPT, part of Henrique Capriles Radonski’s campaign structure. Over time, and after the Supreme Tribunal of Justice’s (TSJ) intervention, the National Electoral Council (CNE) blocked organizations representing dissident chavismo from registering (Marea Socialista and Unión Nacional Organizada), also barring the possibility for Vente Venezuela, led by María Corina Machado, of becoming a political party.

Three years later, before the 2015 parliamentary elections, chavismo judicially intervened four political organizations with united candidacies from the Opposition Party Coalition (MUD). MIN-Unidad, MEP, COPEI and Bandera Roja were affected. The intervention mostly consisted on transferring party control to members related with or close to Maduro.

Only 12 political organizations managed to overcome the technical and legal roadblocks. 12 out of 59.

The following phase began in January, 2016, after the political party revalidation process, established in the Law of Political Parties, Public Meetings and Manifestations, was suspended.

Revalidations were postponed until March 2017, a delay caused by the CNE itself to block the recall referendum process on Nicolás Maduro’s continuity as President of Venezuela. Between March and August of 2017, the CNE called on 59 national parties to re-register. Venezuela’s United Socialist Party (PSUV) and the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) weren’t called because they were the most voted organizations in the latest parliamentary elections. Three other organizations admitted by the CNE after 2015 didn’t attend the process either. Out of these, two were linked to the opposition, Partido Unión y Entendimiento (Puente) and Unidad Política Popular 89. The other was linked to the government, Independientes por el Progreso.

Only 12 political organizations managed to overcome the technical and legal roadblocks.

12 out of 59.

Five of these survivors were openly tied to the opposition (Acción Democrática, Avanzada Progresista, Primero Justicia, Un Nuevo Tiempo and Voluntad Popular). However, complaints of fraud in result tallies for the appointment of the National Constituent Assembly members, in July 2017, and irregularities of gubernatorial elections (October 2017), made these opposition survivors abstain from participating in the December 2017 mayoral elections.

The absence of these parties was used by the National Constituent Assembly as an excuse to order a new, expedient and compulsory revalidation process for all those who refused to participate in gubernatorial and mayoral elections.

The decision forced Acción Democrática, Democratic Unity Roundtable, Primero Justicia, Puente and Voluntad Popular to re-register again. Although the power play violated articles 52 and 67 of the Constitution, and 25 and 32 of the Law of Political Parties, it was upheld by CNE authorities, along with ruling 878 of the TSJ’s Constitutional Chamber.

The absence of these parties was used by the ANC as an excuse to order a new, expedient and compulsory revalidation process.

And since Voluntad Popular and Puente decided not to obey the ANC (getting barred from running in elections), the express revalidation process caused a new split within the opposition.

The cherry on top? Only Acción Democrática managed to fulfill the CNE requirements. In the cases of Primero Justicia and Democratic Unity Roundtable, CNE authorities changed the re-registration manuals used in 2017, preventing them from fulfilling the imposed requirements (as COPEI and Bandera Roja did in 2017).

In this context, a belated presidential election was called for May 20. Ten parties campaigned for Nicolás Maduro’s reelection, four supported Henri Falcón (Avanzada Progresista, Movimiento Al Socialismo, COPEI and Movimiento Ecológico de Venezuela) and one organization (Esperanza por el Cambio) backed Javier Bertucci. Four parties that successfully wrestled the CNE’s revalidation demands decided not to attend the process: Acción Democrática, Independientes por el Progreso, Un Nuevo Tiempo and Nuvipa. Since they didn’t participate in the May 20 election, the National Constituent Assembly decided that these organizations were illegal and had to undergo a new process of collecting signatures and fingerprints (the third in 12 months).

These four were joined by eight “incipient” national organizations: Acción Ciudadana en Positivo, Cambiemos Movimiento Ciudadano, Fuerza Del Cambio, Independientes por la Comunidad Nacional, Lápiz Procomunidad, Liberal Prociudadanos, Partido Independiente de Venezuela and Soluciones Por Venezuela.

The new revalidation decreed the actual illegalization of Acción Democrática, Un Nuevo Tiempo, Nuvipa and Independientes por el Progreso, but it also meant the birth of three new political opposition parties: Cambiemos Movimiento Ciudadano, Lápiz Procomunidad and Fuerza del Cambio.

In 2015, the Venezuelan opposition managed the greatest electoral victory in 20 years. Now, only the party led by former presidential candidate Henri Falcón remains legal.

Although it’s been reiterated that Fuerza del Cambio was registered by former Miranda governor Henrique Capriles Radonski, his name doesn’t appear in any of the documents filed before the CNE. Fuerza del Cambio is led by Efraín Fernández, who served as touring chief for Capriles Radonski until a couple of years ago.

Meanwhile, Cambiemos Movimiento Ciudadano is led by lawmaker Timoteo Zambrano. Antonio Ecarri heads Lápiz Procomunidad.

In 2015, the Venezuelan opposition managed the greatest electoral victory in 20 years. 24 months later, only the party led by former presidential candidate Henri Falcón remains legal, while the rest of the political forces from the Democratic Unity Roundtable have been illegalized.

Chavismo is hellbent on defining a new political ecosystem in the pursuit a single hegemonic party scenario.

And it’s working.

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24 COMMENTS

  1. I know that calls for unity within the democratic opposition are treated contemptuously by the globetrotting opposition statesmen who accuse critics of not understanding the dynamic. I worked with a global democracy advocacy group for some years and recall a meeting to which I was asked to speak with the old “Coordinadora Democratica” group of parties and civil society groups…at the Tamanco. My organization had assisted in democracy movements throughout the world and enjoyed a wealth of experience with successful initiatives.. My only point was that in order to succeed, political and ideological differences within the prism of democratic norms needed to be put aside in order to challenge an emerging dictatorship. That was in 20011 or 2002…cannot recall. In 2018, globetrotting chavistas that fell out of favor with Maduro and Cabello are beginning to gain an audience in D.C. and elsewhere given the failure of good people in the MUD to put aside egos, ideologies, and craven personal interests. The people of Venezuela will always have the sympathy of good people around the world. I fear that the Opposition risks losing favor and credibility as external actors begin to seriously discus strategies toward regime change and cannot find anyone single entity with whom to partner in Venezuela. This is self-inflicted.

    • “In 2018, globetrotting chavistas that fell out of favor with Maduro and Cabello are beginning to gain an audience in D.C. and elsewhere given the failure of good people in the MUD to put aside egos, ideologies, and craven personal interests.”

      I’m interested. What are they selling? Give us a chance and we’ll get socialism right? If so, who’s buying? I’d imagine there’s a long line of customers. Please expand.

    • My take is that the coalition that represents the opposition, (whatever name that was MUD, Coordinadora Democratica, Frente Amplio), they always had elements that tends to backtrack on their promises of achieving a transition. And I always felt that their presence within the coalition was to always sabotage any meaningful progress towards the transition, whether they willingly or unwillingly lent their support to the government is partially attributed to their ideological positions, and to the belief that the status quo was always better than having a government that would have implemented unpopular economic measures i.e. privatization of most public services including oil related companies and moving the country towards a modern and free market oriented economy.

      You could say that our wounds are self inflicted, but these are wounds inflicted by people that should have never been part of any opposition movement in the first place. I’m not talking about the regular people, I’m talking about entire political organizations whose platforms clashed entirely with the ideas of a modern and free market oriented economy, or to at the very least implement some common sense economic reforms.

      So yeah, those were the kind of people, that would say things like “socialism is fine, is just that these are not the right people”. In their misguided beliefs, they thought that the current constitutional framework was meant to transform Venezuela into a European style socialism, when such thing doesn’t even exist! Instead Venezuela was taken to the worst version that socialism can offer.

  2. Eugenio, excellent review/summary–and is there still anyone out there objective/sane/un-bought (besides Capriles/Claudio/Eduardo/Henry/Rosales/El Espanoleto/just kidding–y, se para de contar) who thinks that the Regime can be electorally defeated??

  3. “Chavismo is hellbent on defining a new political ecosystem in the pursuit a single hegemonic party scenario.

    And it’s working.”

    Of course it is working! And I think it is obvious that when the new ” constitution” is rolled out there will only be one party in Venezuela. Yep….democracy Cuban style! Let the good times roll!

  4. What?

    That’s all I have to say.

    Political analysis of Venezuela is an exercise in futility:

    IT’S A FUCKING DICTATORSHIP, FOR GOD FUCKING SAKE!!!

    HOW FUCKING STUPID DOES SOMEONE HAVE TO BE TO NOT UNDERSTAND THIS!?

    • Exactly, but even the CC authors insist on calling that bloddy Criminal Regime, that Tropical Kleptocracy, a Genocidal Narco-Tyranny: “THE GOVERNMENT”. Even in their freaking titles, as Eugenio does here. It sure doesn’t help.

      ESA VAINA NO ES NINGUN “GOBIERNO”, coño!!

  5. Well well well… where is the cacophony of believers who insisted that playing by Chavismo’s rules was the ONLY way to get any sort of legitimacy when it came to leadership and integrity?

    What are you waiting for?

    Do you think that Chavismo is going to have a change of heart? Throw you a rawhide dog chew at Thanksgiving and say, “Good boy! Here is your Pernil!”? Does anyone think that no matter how bad things get, Maduro will insist that he has a “new plan of recovery”? Or do you think that he will actually improve things?

    Step up, Venezuelans. Its now or never. Uncle Sam isn’t going to save your bacon. China and Russia are finished throwing money down the rat hole.

    The PNB and GNB and the colectivos are not afraid of you.

    Yet?

    • These pussies don’t even have the balls to blow up a few wells.

      Because hey, if Chavismo going to blame PDVSA’s dismal production on sabotage, shouldn’t someone oblige them and make it partly true?

      I have never seen, in my entire life, a population bend over…spread their naked ass cheeks…and scream:

      “Fuck me here in my ass! I don’t even need lube! You guys are the boss!”

      It’s fucking unbelievable. Venezuelans are a joke.

      • Ira, I understand your frustrations and your anger at what is happening (or rather what is not happening) but gotta say I could have gone all day without having THAT mental image put in my head. Good grief……

      • I don’t know what the hell to make of it.

        If my local mayor pulled the BS on the citizenry of my local city that the Chavistas routinely pull, he would be dead, as would his LE supporters* and sycophants.

        *I suspect that LE wouldn’t be very supportive of such a politician, and would be the first to send him into eternity.

      • Ira. There it is again, your suppressed homosexuality violently trying to escape the closet. The symbolism you spew is self-defining. Further, as one who admits to not having served his country in the military, by what authority do you stand in judgement of others bravery? You are a textbook example of “Stolen Valor”. As I’ve said before, your parents must be so proud. Too bad they weren’t married.

  6. “For the past six years, the so-called “Bolivarian Revolution” – (a ruthless, disguised Dictatorship, a bunch of Kleptomaniac Assassins and countless Thieves, – has been focusing on its criminal and anti-constitutional strategy to consolidate a fake political system with an “hegemonic party.”

    Why can’t you write it AS IT IS, Eugenio?

  7. The great victory of the people against the attempt to install a tyranny in the country was the AN in 2015.

    Unlikely, from there, everything went perfect for the psuv. They prepared the road to hold power at any cost. They diminished the 2/3 of the seats by nullifying three seats for any reason. Then, they gave more power to TSJ, and to the attorney general while reducing the power of the AN. One year later, they managed to avoid the RR. Everything went fine until 2017. A real battle took the streets, at one time psuv looked against the ropes. So they came up in despair and running out of options with the ANC.

    So now, we have to face it: any at least better than mediocre leadership would’ve removed psuv from power in that span. But let’s recap the facts again: the opposition leadership lacks of something better than mediocre leaders. So the real reason psuv dodged what it seemed way impossible back in 2016 and in only in a span of24 months is mostly on the leadership.

    Let’s make a brief of the biggest mistakes:

    The first one (and the biggest): Handing out the AN to HRA. A corrupt dinosaur, trying to come back from the ashes finally found a crack to become “the national boss of the opposition”, basically from nowhere and without any personal achievement. However, it’s not his “mistake”, he just took the opportunity granted; it was the rest of the opposition, mainly PJ and VP who open that crack. The worst part of letting in HRA, it’s that for the rest of the span the guy was going to be mostly the boss and any decision had to pass through him. Obviously it was a free card Venezuela gave the psuv, and basically, pusv won more having HRA as the boss of the opposition, that what psuv lost giving away 2/3 of the parliament. Anybody still doubt it?

    With the first mistake came a bundle of more mistakes. A failed strategy to call the RR. The opposition leadership wasted 5-6 months to agree in how to face the RR. Then, they basically made half of the job to the psuv. By then, with the dinosaur pulling the strings, psuv didn’t need to make their own job.

    Third mistake: going to a dialogo instead of taking the streets at the end of 2016. If the strong street fights that erupted in 2017 would’ve taken place in 2016, very likely the psuv had to call for a RR.

    2nd biggest mistake came in 2017: No, it was not the Regionales. NO. It was the ANC. Remember psuv was against the rope. Oscar Perez and his group were putting pressure, also the Captain Caguaripano and the likes. A lot of noise coming from the military and the psuv was really scared. And two former powerful people like Luisa Ortega and RRamirez were allin against psuv.

    What happened? The leadership misread the moment big time. And this one was not on HRA to be honest. This one was on VP, PJ and MCM basically. They didn’t take advantage of the moment because unfortunately, it is what it is, the opposition leadership is not better than mediocre.

    They didn’t know what to do, they were clueless during that the time. They didn’t know where to go. And they just forfeit the moment until everything faded.

    Why did they (VP, PJ and all of them) accepted to go the regionales against a fortified psuv but they did not take the chances against the weakest psuv (at its lowest ever) in the ANC? What they could win in regionales: a bunch of gobernadores powerless vs what they could’ve won in a ANC: the whole power, the state itself. Look at the conditions of the regionales: no tinta, carnet de la patria, reubicaciones and so on vs the ones for the ANC which were basically the same as the AN in 2015.

    In 2015, against all odds people voted 60% against psuv. By 2017, that number could’ve been around 70-80%. With 80%, even with the steep conditions psuv wanted to go, the opposition would’ve won the ANC by landslide. Actually, the best scenario for psuv would’ve been slightly winning the majority with 20% of the votes. But even that would’ve meant more fuel into the streets. But…

    The worst part of the story, it’s that now psuv is stronger than ever and the opposition leadership is basically the same mediocre people. Therefore, the only way to ever overcome psuv will be if any leader (not seen yet) might unify the whole country against psuv.

  8. Why the hell are people against the author??? He’s literally describing one of the many reasons why Chavismo is a dictatorship. Honestly this comment section has been so sh#$ for some time. Bill Bass where are you?

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