Venezuela Elections: The victory in Barinas returns the illusion to the Venezuelan opposition | International


The governor-elect of the State of Barinas, Sergio Garrido, speaks to the media this Monday, January 10.
The governor-elect of the State of Barinas, Sergio Garrido, speaks to the media this Monday, January 10.Rayner Peña R. (EFE)

With the electoral triumph obtained in the new elections called in the State of Barinas, the Venezuelan opposition scores an unexpected achievement loaded with enormous symbolism, which remoralizes its ranks and allows it to partially fix the internal cracks resulting from a disastrous management.

The panorama of the forces competing against Nicolás Maduro continues to be confused and full of serious dilemmas in the face of a government that, with all its problems, comfortably occupies power, maintains oiled militant discipline and is organized in the regions with the support of the revolutionary state. But the slack of the advantage obtained by the opponent Sergio Garrido over former Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza offers the democratic militancy, at least, inspiring reasons to get up and elements of judgment to go through a new beginning.

The opposition victory has put an end to a long dynasty in the regional command of the family of the late commander – governed since 1999 by Hugo de los Reyes Chávez, father of the former president; and then by his brothers, Adán and Argenis-, and has been carved out with the support of most of the parties that face Maduro. With this defeat, Chavismo loses one of its emblematic fiefdoms despite having massively mobilized military personnel, ministers and national leaders under the undeniable protection of the Miraflores Palace in Caracas. For the rest, the magnitude of the advantage made it extremely difficult to ignore the ruling party against its rivals.

“From Commander Chávez’s speech, in which he emphasized that he would return to his native Barinas as an old man after ruling Venezuela indefinitely, this aberration of military feudalism was fed, which was mixed with all naturalness in the national annals,” says Elías Pino Iturrieta, prominent intellectual, author and historian. “From all of which it follows, more or less, the significance of this overwhelming triumph in Barinas, a historic kick to the anti-republic and the debauchery of personalism, “he adds.

The outcome of these elections also produces an important clearing in the internal debate of the opposition parties: the thesis of agreeing a joint electoral strategy for the next presidential elections, to be held in 2024, gains strength again, and further weakens the intention of doubling the resistances of the factors of the power of Chavismo through a political breakdown, as has been sustained between the years 2017 and 2021.

“I am convinced that this is a real second chance for the opposition to finally regain the electoral path against those who hold power in an authoritarian manner in the country,” says Nicmer Evans, political scientist, activist and director of the information portal Cut point. “Rafael Garrido’s victory over Jorge Arreaza has been possible, in part, thanks to the internal contradictions of the ruling party within Barinas, and because the greatest possible unity of democratic parties was achieved, although this was not necessarily absolute. It would be a great mistake for sectarianism to return, or for the G4 (as the main opposition groups present in the previous legislature are known: Primero Justicia, Acción Democrática, Will Popular and A Nuevo Tiempo) want to attribute the guardianship of this victory. “

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For Laure Nicotra, a well-known journalist, commentator and radio host from Barinas, Chavismo made a crass tactical error by insisting on not knowing the results of the November 21 elections and forcing their repetition, because with this they exchanged a very close defeat for another with more than 14 points difference. “Jorge Arreaza is not from Barinas nor does he live here. The overwhelming Chavista defeat is explained by the way in which Argenis Chávez and internal divisions were pushed aside. The disproportionate injection of gifts and resources was very evident. The advantage was too crude, all the central power came here. Rafael Garrido could not advertise in the media, not even put up a poster. This state has too many problems with public services, which have not been solved and have worsened. Discontent has grown a lot, “he said.

All the opposition factions have wanted to bring the victory of Barinas closer to each of its postulates. Leopoldo López has welcomed the feat on his Twitter account, stating that “democracy won over the dictatorship.” “We were united, organized and mobilized with a common goal,” he justified. Henrique Capriles has affirmed that the circumstance “is a ratification of the importance of regional leadership to advance in the long-awaited change that the country is asking for.” The moderate Henri Falcón, for his part, has highlighted the validity of the electoral imperative, which he has defended at all times, as the only possible path. “No one is superfluous, we all need it in the mission to recover Venezuela.”

The opposition electoral victory in Barinas has managed to filter even into the minds of the most radical ranks of the political opposition, part of which is in exile, which traditionally considers all elections fraudulent and has always deemed it impossible to defeat Chavismo in the face of such imbalance in electoral conditions.

“These results do not necessarily determine anything”, qualifies Benigno Alarcón, political analyst, lawyer and academic from the Andrés Bello Catholic University. “It will depend on what the opposition does from now on. Before you have a task that is not impossible, but it is very complex. Each sector will try to assert its thesis with what has just happened. Right now I see the reunification of the opposition difficult. The differences that some sectors have among themselves seem irreconcilable ”.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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