An X-ray of Venezuela's right-wing opposition.

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By Joao Pedro Stedile*

The Trump administration considers itself the owner of Venezuela and demands that the people obey their foreman, Mr. Guaidó, who by the way is very well paid

In 2015 there were elections for the National Assembly of Venezuela. The representation there is unicameral, there are no senators, only deputies. There are 167 elected deputies.

In that election, the opposition to Chavismo won the majority of deputies. Chavistas were in a clear minority with only 55 deputies, organized in a block called Pátria. The Electoral Court of Justice canceled the election of some deputies for fraud and/or corruption. The right-wing parties did not want to recognize this cancellation. This led to a permanent conflict over the legitimacy and legality of the National Assembly. An incessant battle between the Chavista executive branch and the right-wing opposition that controlled parliament.

In response to this impasse, and the increase in violence, with attacks, “guarimbas” etc by radical right-wing sectors, the government used its constitutional faculties and convened in 2017 a Constituent Popular Assembly which, according to the current Constitution, was superior to the President and Parliament. The most radical opposition refused to participate in the election for the Constituent Assembly, as their tactic was to overthrow the government through violence.

Since then, two legislative colleges have operated in Venezuela.

In 2018 there were elections for the Presidency of the Republic, and state governments. The opposition participated in the elections, which were attended by observers from various international institutions. Maduro defeated three other competitors and the opposition elected some state governors. All were sworn in regularly on January 10, 2019.

Already in January 2019, articulated by the Trump administration, the most radical sector of the right-wing parties, which used to carry out attacks in the city, and which has representation in the said chamber, managed to elect deputy Juan Gerardo Guaidó as president of the National Assembly. What should be a normal act, the annual election by the deputies of the president of the Assembly, turned into an affront to democracy. Guaidó proclaimed himself President of the Republic, in affront to the newly elected president sworn in under the Constitution and by the Judicial Powers: Nicolas Maduro.

This unilateral act was part of a coup plan, which included the intervention of armed forces from the US, Colombia and Brazil. After a series of episodes and a cycle of popular mobilizations during 2019, the coup was defeated. The vast majority of the people continued to support Nicolas Maduro's government, despite the economic crisis and the economic and financial blockade imposed by the Trump administration.

The decisive point for the success of the coup was to divide the Armed Forces, winning their support for the coup. To do so, they resorted to numerous procedures using lies, attempts at co-option and corruption of the military. The Venezuelan Armed Forces, however, remained loyal to the Constitution and the government led by Nicolas Maduro. Thus, the defeat of the rightist and coup groups and parties was decreed.

Guaidó's mandate as president of the National Assembly ended in January 2020. On the 05th, the constitutional date scheduled for the election of the new president of the house, part of the opposition to Chavismo - more civilized and opposed to American intervention - disagreed with supporters of Guaidó's re-election, presenting another candidate for the presidency of the National Assembly.

Anticipating imminent defeat, Guaidó orchestrated a riot at the entrance to the Assembly building, in an unsuccessful attempt to boycott the session. Despite this, 127 deputies attended, being elected with 81 votes – by the majority of those present – ​​as a new president of the Assembly to replace Guaidó, deputy Luis Parra, from the opposition party Primero Justicia.

Enraged, Guaidó met on the same day at the headquarters of an opposing newspaper, 30 deputies who unanimously re-elected him to continue as president of the Assembly.

The division of the opposition precipitates chaos. The radical, terrorist sector, subordinated to the United States, has only 30 deputies, led by Guaidó. The majority of the opposition, which proposes to win the government through democratic means and has a base of 81 deputies, only recognizes Luis Parra as president of the National Assembly.

On January 14, the parallel parliament headed by Guaidó met again and took the decision to elect a new president for the state-owned communications company, Telesur. As if this administrative act were the responsibility of the Assembly or the President of the Assembly. Guaidó appointed journalist Leopoldo Castillo to “recover” Telesur. In addition to the legal absurdity, plotted only to generate political facts, Leopoldo Castillo – a former militant of the Venezuelan extreme right – is currently outside the country.

In the 1980s, Castillo was the Venezuelan ambassador to El Salvador, having participated, along with the local fascist right, in the events that led to the murder of Jesuit priests (Cf. https://twitter.com/teleSURtv/status/1217521831424548864?s=20).

Telesur is a Latin American Foundation that is not legally dependent on the National Assembly of Venezuela. The president is the Colombian journalist Patricia Villegas. This attempt at usurpation by Guaidó can only be explained as an action that responds to the requests of his sponsors in the US, in part due to the drop in the audience of CNN in espanol, TV belonging to a right-wing group that supports Trump. But also, above all, because Telesur has faithfully transmitted the events not only in Venezuela, but also those in Chile, Argentina, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, opposing the media manipulations of the Empire.

Guaidó's relationship with Trump and his group is permanent. On January 14, the US Treasury Department imposed sanctions on Deputy Luis Parra and two other deputies who are members of the Board of Directors of the Assembly. The Trump administration considers itself the owner of Venezuela and demands that the people obey their foreman, Mr. Guaidó, who by the way is very well paid.

This whole mess, the coexistence of two presidents of the National Assembly, the disputes within the opposition, will probably only be resolved by calling new elections for the Parliament. Elections, provided for by law, to be called by the Electoral Court in the first half of this year. Until then, Guaidó will continue to deceive whoever he wants. And Americans will continue to promote their lies.

It has recently become public fact – both in the US and in Venezuela – that USAID (United States Agency for International Development) contributed with 128 million dollars and Elliott Abrams with another 50 million, to finance Guaidó's activities. The opposition as a whole has received from USAID, since 2017, US$467 million (Cf. https://actualidad.rt.com/actualidad/340110-usaid-admitir-financiar-oposicion-venezolana).

The current international situation has enabled the Maduro government to obtain some trump cards. Venezuela was elected a member of the UN Human Rights Council. The new government of Argentina expelled the representative of Guaidó and returned to recognize only the Maduro government. In the coming days, the same should happen with the new government of Spain. Guaidó was also unsuccessful in his attempt to seize the Venezuelan embassy in Brasilia.

The mobilization capacity of the people of Venezuela and their unity with the Armed Forces are the fundamental point of support of the Maduro government.

*Joao Pedro Stedile is a member of the MST coordination team.

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