Ahead of Elections, Venezuela’s Divided Opposition Is at a Dead End

Ahead of Elections, Venezuela’s Divided Opposition Is at a Dead End
Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido during a meeting with members of the opposition in Caracas, Venezuela, Dec. 18, 2019 (AP photo by Matias Delacroix).

After a rare period of unity, Venezuela’s opposition recently splintered over a familiar issue: whether to contest an election.

A coalition of parties aligned with opposition leader Juan Guaido plans to boycott legislative elections that are scheduled for December, on the grounds that they will be rigged. Henrique Capriles, another prominent opposition figure, heads a much smaller faction that recently announced it will participate in the vote if electoral conditions are improved. That move could play into the hands of Venezuela’s repressive president, Nicolas Maduro, who is hoping to win international recognition of the election even though it will be neither free nor fair.

Capriles may ultimately abandon his plan to field candidates, as it hinges on Maduro delaying the vote, which the president has said is “impossible.” But regardless of whether Capriles and Guaido remain divided, the Dec. 6 polls represent a moment of truth for Venezuela’s beleaguered opposition. Guaido is still recognized by more than 50 countries as Venezuela’s legitimate interim president, but his campaign to oust Maduro has faltered. With the election looming, his movement is at risk of fading into irrelevance.

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