Miranda state governors Hector Rodriguez spoke during a televised event this afternoon on the opposition’s stunning defeat in the October 15 gubernatorial election. Rodriguez, who was formerly a National Assembly deputy for the PSUV, beat his opposition opponent, Carlos Ocariz, turning the long-held opposition bastion of Miranda state red.
For Rodriguez, the opposition’s defeat has one a clear root: lack of votes. He called on the opposition to reflect on what he considers to be its loss of popular support, saying:
Hasn’t the opposition asked itself why people didn’t go out and vote for them? Won’t the opposition reflect on the fact that parts of the Venezuelan opposition–to which we send a warm hug and acknowledgement–made the mature decision of not going to vote because it didn’t like the agenda of violence?
“I won’t vote because you lied to me; you told me that you weren’t at the dialogue table [with the PSUV], and you were; I won’t vote because you filled the streets with violence; I won’t vote because you did not govern properly in Miranda state for eight years.”
The gubernatorial election has been widely condemned by regime critics over the documented irregularities that marked the process. Aside from institutionalized efforts to dissuade opposition voters from casting their ballots, evidence out of Bolivar state demonstrates that the regime committed fraud by giving the PSUV candidate there votes to push him above his opponent.
Rodriguez also took aim at the leadership of the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica [MUD], the coalition bloc that is now teetering on the brink of collapse after the October 15 vote. Rodriguez said:
I think that the opposition leaders should be a little bit more honest, less arrogant, and stop blaming their supporters for not going out to vote. Of course not a lot of their supporters went out to vote! We know this. Well, they didn’t go out to vote and it’s important to reflect on this…
Rodriguez: Venezuela “Most Competitive Country” on Earth
During the same address, Rodriguez painted a rosy picture of the Venezuelan economy. For Rodriguez, the opposite is true:
There is no more competitive country in the world right now than Venezuela.
Rodriguez went on by saying:
You can say that Venezuela’s main problem is the economy, [but] I would say that the main opportunity that Venezuela has is its economy, because it’s coinciding with a set of strengths [sic]. The fact that we have a national government that does not believe in neoliberal policies and free trade agreements is a strength for the national economy.
The Venezuelan economy is universally recognized by independent economists and international organizations as one of the most dysfunctional on the planet. The PSUV’s policies–primarily its strict currency exchange controls–have precipitated the worst scarcity and inflation crisis in the country’s modern history.
Rodriguez also attempted to argue that if Venezuela were another South American country, its economy would be in ill shape. Rodriguez said:
If we were in Brazil today, or in Argentina, or in Colombia, our industry would be in total crisis, because their government policies involve opening the doors to [foreign capital] so that they can invade [the country’s businesses]. That would be fatal for us.
The meager slice of Venezuelan industry that is not related to oil is in dire straits. The country’s runaway inflation rate resulted in a 731% increase in the average cost of production in the first quarter of this year, and food production is down 20.2% over the year ending in July.
Overall, the Venezuelan economy is “35% smaller than it was in 2013 in terms of gross domestic product”, giving the country the distinction of suffering the most impressive economic collapse in the region in recent years.
Guevara Lays Groundwork for New Opposition Movement
National Assembly vice president Freddy Guevara gave a press conference today in which he laid the foundation for a new opposition movement, given the apparent collapse of the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD), the country’s main opposition bloc for the past several years.
For Guevara, Venezuela’s opposition cannot recognize Maduro’s Constituent Assembly as a legitimate body. Guevara said that the new opposition cannot “kneel before or legitimize the dictatorship” in any way.
Guevara also said that the opposition must work tirelessly to create an independent and impartial electoral body, and refuse to participate in elections until that goal is met. Voluntad Popular–the party which Guevara heads–announced earlier this week that it would not take part in the upcoming municipal elections due to the fact that the Maduro regime exercises complete control over the country’s electoral body.
Without giving details, Guevara prefaced the birth of this new opposition movement by calling for street protests, but it is not clear when or if these protests will take place.
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