The Voluntad Popular (VP) party issued a statement today in which it committed itself to mount pressure on the Maduro regime in the form of streets protests, since it considers them the best available route to bring about democratic change to Venezuela.
The statement came from National Assembly deputy Juan Guaido, who is also a member of VP. In a series of tweets posted on his official Twitter account this afternoon, Guaido laid out a set of 10 points that outline the party’s position on the ongoing crisis.
Among the 10 points are a commitment to not participate in any negotiations with the Maduro regime unless their goal is to discuss a transition towards democracy, and to not participate in any electoral process under the present conditions. In the statement, VP is calls protests ‘the engine of change”, and calls on Venezuelans to take to the streets of the country in demonstrations against the regime.
Below, my translation of Guaido’s Twitter thread:
#24Jul Today, on the 234th anniversary of the birth of the father of our homeland, Simon Bolivar, “El Libertador”, we ratify our unbreakable will to fight until liberating Venezuelan from the dictatorship.
The struggle that is taking our people to the streets in the face of the socio-economic collapse and the abuses against their rights has forced us to take collective action alongside all of the leaders and organizations that make the decision to [take up this struggle with us].
For this reason, we announce the following before the people, the social sectors, organizations, political leaders and the international community:
- We can and should end the dictatorship. The time has come for protests and popular unrest to join forces, [alongside] the growing international pressure, the malaise and the internal division in the regime, [together with] a clear and determined political offensive that can liberate Venezuela.
- Liberation depends on us. International pressure, socio-economic collapse and the divisions inside the regime can only lead to a transition if they can count on the people to mobilize and organize to demand their right, accompanied by clear political guidance.
- Protest is the engine of change. The strength of popular organization and mobilization is the spark that will break the chains that oppress us.
- The time has come for defining leadership. It is no longer enough to share the objective of ending the dictatorship, it is fundamental to share a strategy to achieve this.
- We value international pressure as support for our [local] actions as Venezuelan democrats.
- Nicolas Maduro is a usurper, the [Constituent Assembly] is a fraud, and the [National Electoral Council] is illegal. We recognize the constitutional and legal character of the National Assembly.
- The dictatorship supporters itself on the illegal and unconstitutional use of the weapons of the republic. Our constitution lays out a very clear function and responsibility for the National Armed Forces, both in terms of achieving democracy and reconstruction Venezuela.
- We believe in voting, but not in legitimizing fraud. We will fight to end the dictatorship and have truly free elections. We will not support or take part in any farce organization by the regime to try to gain stability.
- We will not participate in negotiations that will give the regime breathing room. We stress that we will not participate in any negotiation process that does not have as its objective the end of the dictatorship and [that takes steps towards] democratic transition.
- [We must] build a Great Transition and National Reconstruction Accord. We should put pressure on the dictatorship, and at the same time be ready for the transition. We propose that we postpone the voicing of presidential aspirations until we have free elections.
We propose these 10 points as the foundation for a unifying strategy to build a new movement of national pressure that will allow use the achieve a new January 23 and remove the dictator from power.
The statement is the most substantial to come out of any of the major opposition parties in months.
Besides Maria Corina Machado’s Vente Venezuela (VV) party, VP is arguably the most vociferous in its criticism of the Maduro regime and its insistence on protests as a key mechanism for forcing the regime out of power.
VP was instrumental in organizing the 2014 anti-government protest movement. For his role in the demonstrations, VP’s leader–Leopoldo Lopez–was arrested by the regime and sentenced to nearly 14 years in prison. Lopez served three years of his term in jail, and was transferred to house arrest last year.
VP’s vice president, Freddy Guevara, took over the reigns of the party after Lopez’s incarnation, and played a key role in the 2017 anti-government protest wave. Guevara was forced to seek refuge from regime persecution in the Chilean ambassador’s residence in November of last year, and has remained largely absent from the national spotlight since then.
VP’s statement comes at a time when the Venezuelan opposition appears to have been largely neutralized by the Maduro regime.
The last time that opposition forces managed to command the attention of sizable portions of the Venezuelan populace was in July of last year, when it hinted that a “zero hour” was approaching. While the opposition leadership was vague about exactly what it meant by the term, it strongly suggested that “zero hour” would involve an indefinite national strike and/or a march on the Miraflores Palace were Maduro to hold the Constituent Assembly election on July 31 of last year.
The Constituent Assembly took place as planned, and the opposition’s plan for “zero hour” never materialized.
Since then, the country has seen sporadic and widespread protests, particularly among healthcare workers, but nothing on the scale of the demonstrations that drew tens of thousands of people to the streets of the country during the summer last year.
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