The Destructive Tactics of Venezuela’s Opposition

Opposition groups in Venezuela have been waging an economic war in Venezuela, similar to that perpetrated against Chile’s President Allende.

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Foto: Telesur
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Opposition groups in Venezuela have been waging an economic war in Venezuela, similar to that perpetrated against Chile’s President Allende. Hoarding, smuggling and currency speculation has caused shortages of food and basic necessities and hardship, particularly for poorer people.


The resulting dissatisfaction led to the electoral victory of Venezuela’s right wing in the National Assembly elections in December 2015. However, instead of using their parliamentary majority to offer solutions, right wing groups have devoted most of their efforts to a US-supported agenda of “regime change” whilst the economic war has continued to destabilise the country.


Henry Ramos Allup, the new president of the National Assembly, announced on his inauguration that they would oust the government of president Maduro within six months. Their efforts, including a call to set up a Constituent Assembly, later abandoned, have all failed, partly because of their uncertainty about the level of support and partly because of disagreements amongst themselves.


Following the failures of the right wing within Venezuela, their “regime change” agenda has been internationalised, with the Organization of American States (OAS) becoming the mechanism seeking to isolate Venezuela by applying the Democratic Charter, and OAS Secretary General, Luis Almagro actively promoting the ousting of the Venezuela government.


Despite his vigorous efforts and the shift to the right in the region – with “constitutional” coups that have overthrown progressive governments in Honduras, Paraguay and Brazil and the election of right wing governments in Argentina and Peru – Almagro and the US never received sufficient support to achieve their aims.


The right wing have now resorted to violence once again, including the three-hour siege of the Hugo Chavez Maternity Hospital, which gravely endangered the lives of 54 just-born babies, women in labour, patients, nurses and doctors. The objective appears to have been to cause deaths which could be attributed to ‘government repression’ and bolster the failing efforts of Luis Almagro in the OAS. However, this tactic has also failed and eight OAS countries have issued a statement supporting Pope Francis’ call for dialogue and rejection of violence in Venezuela.


Maduro has continued to offer dialogue to the opposition, and this position has had international support from various quarters including the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), Pope Francis and Rodriguez Zapatero, Leonel Fernandez and Martin Torrijos, former presidents of Spain, Dominican Republic and Panama respectively


Venezuela’s right wing, including Henrique Capriles, sometimes described as a moderate, have publicly rejected Pope Francis’s call for dialogue. Furthermore, they have now rejected president Maduro’s initiative for a Constituent Assembly, a democratic mechanism contemplated in the Constitution (Arts. 347 and 348), despite having favoured it in the past. During the recent opposition violence the right wing have claimed to be defending the constitution, despite rejecting Maduro’s Constituent Assembly initiative and publicly calling for “rebellion” (the word used by Julio Borges, the current National Assembly president.)


Venezuela’s right wing opposition have clearly painted themselves into a very small corner and it is unclear, if they continue to reject dialogue, where they can go from here. Intensification of violence out of despair is a possibility, but polls suggest 80% of Venezuelans reject violent protest and support for this is dwindling rapidly and is increasingly confined relatively affluent areas to the East of Caracas. There is also the possibility that their intense internal divisions will emerge out into the open.


Let’s hope the opposition ceases the violence and embraces the dialogue, a peaceful solution must be found for all of Venezuela.


- Dr Francisco Dominguez – UK Venezuela Solidarity Campaign
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