Venezuela: What’s Next for the Opposition?

The elections of last December 6 returned control of the legislative power to the ruling party .

Juan Guaidó

The recent elections in Venezuela left a bleak outlook for the opposition. / Photo: Reuters

LatinAmerican Post | Santiago Gómez

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Leer en español: Venezuela: ¿Qué viene para la oposición?

The latest results in the Venezuelan legislative elections did not surprise anyone. With the majority of the opposition abstaining from participating and with absolute control of all institutions by the ruling party, Chavezism was left with control of the National Assembly, previously controlled by the opposition.

To the little interest that these elections aroused in which the winner had already been known for months, is added the chronic shortage in Venezuela and the health measures due to the pandemic. The users of social networks were in charge of highlighting the loneliness of the voting tables.

The opposition leader, Juan Guaidó, show the little citizen participation from his Twitter account, which seeks to demonstrate the little legitimacy that this new Assembly may have.

Now without the legislative power (which in practice was lost by the opposition since the elections to the National Constituent Assembly), the opposition will have to find other spaces to exert its pressure, both locally and internationally.

Also read: Two elections that express the erosion of polarization in Venezuela

However, Johan Caldas, professor of Political Science at the University of La Sabana considers that "the social circumstances that Venezuela is going through, which has lived for years, makes it a bit difficult for the opposition to act. The population is dedicated to subsisting. There is no courage, there is no force and there is no clear leadership that leads the opposition to take up citizen flags and power, through social protest and citizen activism, to regain control of Venezuela."

International support

Although the opposition lost the only branch of power that it held and on which it based its democratic legitimacy at the international level, the relations between the government and the opposition in the region do not suggest any change.

Several countries, as expected, announced their non-recognition of the elections. One of the first was Colombia, the neighboring country, whose government of Iván Duque is emerging as one of the main opponents of the regime. To the call of President Duque, Canada, the United States, Brazil, Latvia, among other countries that ignored the votes, consider that there were no guarantees of impartial, equal, free, fair, and transparent participation between the ruling party and the opposition.

Caldas believes that despite the defeat, " the visibility of the opposition may end up being advantageous or damaging, according to how they know how to take advantage of it. If those who held these positions from the opposition do not take advantage of their international visibility and exposure to work in favor of Venezuela, it will be detrimental. But if they do the opposite and reinforce their discourse of showing that there is no complete democracy in Venezuela, they will be able to continue pressuring Chavismo internationally. "

The United States and the opposition

Despite the discourse that the Trump campaign maintained in the US elections linking Biden with "Castro-Chavism," the change of administration in the White House does not suggest a change in the policy against Venezuela.

Since the Democratic government of Obama, in which Biden was vice president, the United States had already been cornering the Maduro regime with sanctions. In March 2015, the White House declared Venezuela an "extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States" and began the freezing of bank accounts of officials close to Maduro.

If it is true that the Democrats achieved victory with the support of their most progressive sector, the recent appointments made by the president-elect is a nod to the moderate sector (even some high position for Republicans is not ruled out). Biden might think about empowering progressivism in key places for domestic politics.

With such a complicated outlook and with so few changes in practice, it is likely that very little will change in the country with the largest oil reserves in the world.

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