The Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD) opposition bloc appears to be on the verge of splitting today as the fallout from yesterday’s swearing-in of four Accion Demoratica (AD) governors-elect by Maduro’s Constituent Assembly continues to reverberate throughout the country. The fact that the four governors agreed to be sworn in to their officers by a body that the MUD considers to be illegitimate took the country by surprise yesterday, and threatens to destroy the opposition coalition.
The former governor of Miranda state, Henrique Capriles, held a fiery press conference today in which he attacked AD and its leader, Henry Ramos Allup, for yielding to the will of the Maduro regime. Capriles–who is one of the leading voices in the MUD–said that he would no longer be part of the bloc as long as Allup was one of its members.
I speak on behalf of myself, not my party. While Mr. Ramos Allup is in [the MUD], I will not be a part of it. What happened yesterday has no justification.
Capriles was also candid with reporters, saying that the MUD could not continue to exist in its current state and that a new organization had to be formed from its ruins.
On the suggestion that the four governors who were sworn in by the Constituent Assembly did without the consent of Allup, Capriles said:
No one picks up a pencil inside Accion Democratica without Ramos Allup allowing it to happen.
The MUD is made up of over a dozen opposition parties, but is headed by the so-called “big four”: AD, Primero Justicia (PJ), Voluntad Popular (VP), and Un Nuevo Tiempo (UNT).
The time has come to remove this tumour, for all of us who are united [in the struggle for] a change in government to construct that unity (…)
According to Capriles, yesterday’s events are proof that the MUD is no longer able to mount an effective challenge to the Maduro regime, and that “a true opposition” must now come together to take up the task.
Allup Washes Hands of Governors
During his own press conference this afternoon, AD chief Henry Ramos Allup said that the four governors from his party who were sworn in yesterday by the Constituent Assembly “removed themselves” from the party by participating in the act.
Allup explained that AD does not have a mechanism for expelling members: however, members can in effect expel themselves by carrying out acts that are contrary to the party’s platform. Allup clarified by saying:
Accion Democratica does not expel anyone. There is Article 32 section F [of the AD charter] which is called “auto-removal”. This operates automatically as soon as a member does not adhere to the party’s orientation.
Allup’s comments echo those of Freddy Valera, the AD secretary for Bolivar state, who in an earlier press conference said that the four governors had removed themselves from the party by agreeing to be sworn in by the Constituent Assembly.
Allup replied indirectly to Capriles’ comments by lamenting what he considers to be the infighting that is taking place inside the MUD, the root of which he claims to have had no role in. Allup said:
It’s unfortunate. I’m not going to get into a fight with anyone. I won’t take the bait. But I think that it is very unfortunate that some spokespersons from Primero Justicia [the party to which Capriles belongs] have tried to take shots at Accion Democratica and at me in a dispute for which I am not responsible.
Expanding on what he considers to be the severity of the situation, Allup said:
I want to say that I really think that it is inappropriate and inconvenient that, in the middle of the great political crisis that the country is going through which has also embroiled the opposition, we now start taking shots at one another. I don’t know if some people saw an opportunity now to take shots at Accion Democratica or to besmirch AD in front of people because of what happened during the [gubernatorial] elections.
Allup suggested that Capriles’ criticism of him is grounded in the fact that his PJ party lost in Miranda state, which had been an opposition stronghold for years, by saying:
I am not responsible for what happened in the election in Miranda state, because I was neither governor nor a candidate…
Maduro Holds “Positive” Meeting with AD Govenors
Maduro held a meeting with three governors from the AD party who agreed to be sworn in by the Constituent Assembly yesterday, calling the encounter “positive”.
The three governors in attendance were Alfredo Diaz (Nueva Esparta), Antonio Barreto (Anzoategui), Ramon Guevara (Merida). It is not clear why the fourth AD governor sworn in by the Constituent Assembly, Laidy Gomez, was not in attendance.
Speaking after the meeting, Maduro said:
We had a cordial meeting where we talked about things like peace, strengthening democracy and some projects that they brought along. Aside from that, [we talked about] cooperation between the central and regional government now that they’ve been sworn in by the Constituent Assembly. I told them that they could count on my support as Head of State and Government. Those states have all of my support.
Below, images of the meeting that took place today in the Miraflores Palace:
Voluntad Popular Will Not Participate in Municipal Elections
The Voluntad Popular (VP) party announced today that it would not participate in municipal elections whenever they take place, given the compromised state of the country’s electoral system.
The announcement came from Freddy Guevara, the national coordinator of the party, who said during a press conference:
Yesterday, [the government] told us that even if we won the municipal elections, we would have to kneel before the National Constituent Assembly. Voluntad Popular will not participate in that process. The country wants to vote, not become a tool of the dictatorship.
Guevara also said that he considered the fact that the four AD governors were sworn in by the Constituent Assembly “a betrayal” that went against the sacrifice that Venezuelans have made in the struggle against the Maduro regime. Guevara said:
Humiliating yourself is not a sacrifice. We have brothers who have died because they refused to kneel.
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