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Venezuelan Opposition: Between Henrique Capriles and María Corina Machado

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The Venezuelan opposition has two clear paths to confront Nicolás Maduro electorally. For now, Henrique Capriles and María Corina Machado are positioned as strong candidates.

Henrique Capriles and Maria Corina Machado

Photos: Flickr-Daniel Guarache, Alexcocopro

LatinAmerican Post | Santiago Gómez Hernández

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Leer en español: Oposición venezolana: entre Henrique Capriles y María Corina Machado

The Venezuelan opposition is preparing to face a new electoral period to remove Nicolás Maduro democratically. Although the general opposition primaries have not yet been held, two strong candidates within the Venezuelan right already have a long-standing rivalry and represent two aspects within the various Venezuelan opposition. They are Henrique Capriles and María Corina Machado.

Henrique Capriles

One of the top candidates to be the leader of the opposition again is Henrique Capriles. Capriles is an old acquaintance in Venezuelan politics, even within the international scene. He has twice been a presidential candidate who has tried to compete with Chavismo and was, for many years, the international image of the opposition.

Also read: How to understand Latin America through the figure of Hugo Chávez?

The Primero Justicia politician competed in 2012 against former President Hugo Chávez and in 2013 against Nicolás Maduro. He recently won his party's primary election, beating former National Assembly vice president Juan Pablo Guanipa and former congressman Carlos Ocáriz.

However, Capriles today is disqualified from holding political office, and his participation will depend on the agreements reached by the ruling party and the opposition in the dialogues in Mexico.

Capriles is a recognized figure throughout the country. His past candidacies have given him visibility that will be important when competing with the all-powerful Maduro, who still maintains the power of the institutions. The former governor of Miranda state has defined himself in the past as progressive or center-left, so his political platform is more moderate than that of other opposition leaders. Even more extreme groups within the opposition consider Capriles a “cohabitant, accomplice and traitor,” as the right-wing political strategist Juan José Rendón said in Panampost.

Maria Corina Machado

Another critical bet of the opposition that hopes to participate in the primaries in October 2023 is María Corina Machado. Daughter of businessman Enrique Machado Zuloaga, owner of the Sivensa steel company, until Chavismo expropriated it. Machado is the current leader of the Vente Venezuela movement. She is one of the most recognized and longstanding figures within the opposition. She was a deputy of the National Assembly for Miranda in 2011 and one of the most internationally recognized opponents.

She has long been recognized as one of the most radical voices within the opposition. The Maduro government has classified it as "a threat to social stability." Machado has proposed "privatizing everything" by changing the economic model Chavismo has been advancing for decades. Politically, Machado recommends "popular capitalism," as well as a return to a bicameral model in the legislature, a reform of the Judiciary, and the elimination of re-election.

In 2014, she was one of the leaders of the demonstrations against the regime, along with Leopoldo López. These marches triggered a feeling of change that demonstrated the acute political crisis that the Caribbean country was experiencing under the command of Nicolás Maduro.

The election of the "Venezuelan iron lady" would give a radical turn to the project that Chavismo has implemented since the very arrival of Chávez.

The second strongman of Chavismo and vice president of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, Diosdado Cabello, recently said that Capriles' party, Primero Justicia, called for Machado to be disbarred. Although it cannot be taken as a reality due to Chavismo's interest in blowing up the unity of the opposition, this shows that the candidacies of Capriles and Machado are the most likely to have several months of campaigning.