The fracture in the Venezuelan opposition led by Juan Guaidó seems to be beyond repair, at a time when union and dialogue would be the only apparent formula for achieving the desired goal of defeating President Nicolás Maduro or, at least, weakening him. The time seems right, as even the ruling party is not free of problems and disputes within its ranks, but everything points to the opposition's failure to capitalise on the division between Chavistas, which it regards as allied parties that differ from Maduro and the governing United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV).
Last week the Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ), noted for its partiality in favour of Maduro's government, disqualified the boards of directors of the Unified Tendencies to Reach the Organised Revolutionary Action Movement (Tupamaro) and Patria Para Todos (PPT) parties. But the disagreements between the government and its former friends, and the leaking of disagreements within the executive, have not been enough for Guaidó to take advantage of the situation to strengthen itself.
Here are some of the keys to the opposition fracture:
Guaidó, Henrique Capriles, María Corina Machado, Leopoldo López. Four key names in the Venezuelan opposition who have been able to prove that unity is strength and that, in the past, when, at least, facing the gallery, they were rowing in the same direction, the people got their hopes up, believed and went out into the streets to shout it. But the illusion did not last long. Of the opposition quartet, only Guaidó and López have their sights set on the same point, while Machado and Capriles - separately - mark out individual roadmaps with disparate horizons. Although their objective is the same - to remove Chavismo from power - their strategies are disparate, so much so that they do not even facilitate a dialogue seeking a convergence in the middle. No one is giving in.
On Wednesday Guaidó proposed to the rest of the opponents the creation of "a great unitary pact to tackle fraud (in the elections of 6 December) and save Venezuela". Four days later, he said his proposal was taken up by "the main opposition figures" and by various social sectors, ready, he said on Sunday on his Twitter account, to form a new alliance to confront the Maduro government. He said he had received proposals from Capriles, who was a candidate for the Venezuelan presidency on two occasions and enjoys great popularity among an opposition sector, and from Machado, for the creation of a new road map. But Guaidó only half reported.
Unity yes, but not at any price. Capriles, who did not wait for his response to Guaidó's statement, published on the same social network a clear and forceful communiqué with direct messages. "The political calls for unity can be empty, when what is needed right now is to attend to and bring our Venezuela out of the pandemic, out of the hunger of the destruction of autocracy, out of indolence, out of fantasy," he said. He also said that "unity is not a matter to be agreed upon by a few politicians alone, but must be worked on together with all Venezuelans, especially with the great majorities who are suffering the effects of poverty, which is at the highest levels in our history. There is talk of establishing a new route, as if a discussion between a few people were enough to do that".
Capriles recalled that the people "have always ended up being the most affected by the dynamic of 'trial and error' of those whose priority is their own benefit and not that of the country," in a clear reference to Guaidó's massive harangue to the unity of the great opposition forces. In his letter, another message to the President of Parliament, referring to Venezuela's resources abroad and which the opposition has managed to take away from the government to deal with, as Guaidó explains, the emergence of the health crisis by COVID-19 and whose accounts or justifications have never been made public.
"I believe that the nation's resources abroad must be used judiciously and transparently, so that the Pan American Health Organization or any other recognized organization can acquire diagnostic tests for COVID-19, as well as respirators, protective equipment for health workers and hospital supplies. It also requested that $100 per month be taken from these resources for at least 6 million vulnerable families.
Guaidó also said this Sunday that, "given the large number of sectors that have joined" his call, he formed "a team of great Venezuelans" who will support him "in the articulation with the sectors and with the incorporation of all the ideas" that he is receiving. Among others, he mentioned lawyer and writer Thays Peñalver, whom he asked to "incorporate the visions of Venezuelan intellectuals and academics for the route that is being built" in the country. The lawyer's response, also via Twitter, was immediate: "Hello, Juan. I participated in a meeting where they asked for my opinion and I think you should do the same with others who have something to say. I take advantage of the fact that you are asking publicly to give you the same opinion that I gave you privately. I can't participate in something I don't know about.
And although everyone agrees on the need to seek a way out of Maduro's power, it seems that the open wound is deep and the fracture difficult to restore. The Democratic Unity Table (MUD), with which they won with a large majority in the parliamentary elections of 2015, is far behind. While Capriles disagrees, Leopoldo López-a guest of the Spanish embassy in Venezuela since the end of April 2019, after evading his house arrest-is Guaidó's champion and guide. And in the most radical wing, María Corina Machado. She has long been committed to a Peace and Stabilisation Operation in Venezuela (PSO) with the presence of international forces to help achieve control of the territory, security and disarmament.
In his opinion, it would also be a way of achieving the reconstruction of emergency infrastructure and public services, the restoration of law and order, the promotion of the rule of law and the democratic re-institutionalisation of the country. And so, each for his own part, unity is impossible, something which the government of Nicolás Maduro continues to take advantage of to gain ground.