By Sinikka Tarvainen (dpa)
HAVANA TIMES – A rift deepened within the Venezuelan opposition over the December 6 elections on Thursday, with many of its representatives rejecting a call by two-time presidential candidate Henrique Capriles to participate in the poll despite doubts about its transparency.
Opposition leader Juan Guaido, whom dozens of countries have recognized as Venezuela’s interim president, said the parliamentary elections staged by President Nicolas Maduro’s government were a “fraud.”
“We cannot lose our focus. Our proposal is … that the republic be reborn,” he said in a statement published by his office.
Capriles and lawmaker Stalin Gonzalez reportedly broke ranks by holding talks with the government about participating in the elections, which more than 25 opposition parties had pledged to boycott.
The move was the most significant opposition challenge so far to Guaido, who has been unable to oust the military-backed Maduro.
“If the regime leaves a little opening, you have to put your foot in,” Capriles said, while vowing that “we are not going to give any presents to Nicolas Maduro.”
Stiff opposition to Capriles decision
Several opposition representatives challenged him, including former Caracas mayor Antonio Ledezma, who is in exile in Spain. He called on the opposition not to “surrender to the tyrant,” daily El Nacional reported.
The Maduro government this week announced it was pardoning 110 political opponents, who included people in prison and in exile, to boost opposition participation in the elections.
Most opposition representatives dismissed the move as a ploy to counter criticism of the poll.
The talks between Capriles, Gonzalez and the government had been reported by Turkey, a Maduro ally which is increasingly influential in Venezuela.
Capriles confirmed he had been in contact with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, who has spoken about a “positive dialogue”between the government and the opposition.
The United States has said it continues backing Guaido.
Maduro has presided over a massive economic crisis and political unrest that sent 5 million Venezuelans fleeing abroad.
The country with some of the world’s biggest oil reserves has not received any “formal” income from its oil industry since October 2019, Diosdado Cabello, president of the country’s Constituent Assembly, said on Wednesday.
He attributed the plunge in oil production to US sanctions, while analysts also blame mismanagement and underinvestment.