A New Opposition Alliance Is Born in Venezuela... Again

Out of the Legislative Palace and out of virtually every kind of power space, the parties that still resist chavista rule announced a fresh umbrella organization to fight for legitimate elections

Photo: Centro de Comunicación Nacional

In an interview he gave to Sandra Caula for our Spanish-language sibling Cinco8, political scientist Ricardo Sucre said that political forces in Venezuela that try to topple a government regime through an insurrection always shatter and fail. It happened in the ‘50s against the Pérez Jiménez regime, and in the ‘60s with the radical Left that formed guerrillas: in both cases, the organizations that left politicsor were barred from politicsto enter the path of armed resistance became fragmented and weak. 

Sucre’s opinion is that, nowadays, the Venezuelan opposition has unsuccessfully tried to break the chavista alliance around Maduro since 2013 with no other results than division, prison and exile, but that the pattern gives better results when the goal has an electoral nature. “The opposition’s best moment was from 2009 to 2014,” he said, “when MUD built the base for a strong opposition. Then, the death of Chávez resurrected insurrection politics. The Venezuelan society fractured, and now the political struggle is one of a zero-sum.”

Sucre’s words come to mind when we see the most recent news on that scorched earth that is 2021’s politics in Venezuela. Mentioning the unity pact from September 2020 and the “consulta popular” in December, as well as the pandemic challenges and the conflict with a FARC group in Apure, the main opposition parties announced they’ll fight for measures against the pandemic and the humanitarian emergency, and for free, legitimate, local and presidential elections with proper witnesses. The tool to do that is a new alliance, which adds to a 20-year history of diverse agreements, the Coordinadora Democrática and MUD being the most enduring and meaningful. 

Well, if NELA (or whatever name it ends up having) goes on, it’ll show the opposition is once again willing to discuss a way to run in elections.

The incredibly meager communiqué had the logos of the four parties with more seats in the National Assembly elected in 2015Primero Justicia, Voluntad Popular, Acción Democrática and Un Nuevo Tiempojoined by Copei, La Causa R, Convergencia, Encuentro Ciudadano, Movimiento Por Venezuela and Proyecto Venezuela. And nothing else.

We reported in our last PRR that this alliance is called NELA, or “Nueva Alianza para Elecciones Libres”. The Colombia-based U.S. Ambassador to Venezuela James Story broke the news days ago, after some months of negotiations between the parties. According to our sources, NELA is supposed to provide an operational framework to what’s left of the opposition and to attempt some kind of teamwork with the private sector and NGOs. We think it’s also an attempt to start again with an organization that, theoretically, will give more voice and vote to people outside the four main parties. 

The members of the new alliance promised better decision-making, well-thought functioning rules, nationwide reach, and space for more parties that would like to join. They say they’re reaching out to civil society organizations, universities, unions, and everyone who has the “common goal of defeating the dictatorship.” 

All the things we’ve heard before. “But doing nothing would be worse, right?” 

Well, if NELA (or whatever name it ends up having) goes on, it’ll show the opposition is once again willing to discuss a way to run in elections. If they are, it’s because they see some hope in the capacity of the U.S., the Lima Group and the European Union to get the Maduro regime to commit to something. The next months will tell.