On the afternoon of Sunday, January 5, 100 deputies of the Venezuelan opposition ratified Juan Guaidó as president of the National Assembly and, therefore, interim president of Venezuela. The context of this meeting is wholly unusual because earlier the same day, Chavismo seized the Legislative Palace and illegally swore in another Assembly Directorial Board.
Today, the opposition deputies could not meet at the premises of the Assembly because the regime of Nicolás Maduro, through its security forces, prevented a significant number of them from entering the building. Guaidó, despite his efforts -like his attempt to climb a fence-, could not enter the Legislative Palace either. The Chavista group took advantage of this situation. The Chavistas, along with some supposed opposition deputies – who have now been accused of accepting bribes – appointed a new Assembly Directorial Board presided over by Luis Parra. Parra is a deputy who previously belonged to the Justice First party. A month ago, his name was linked to a corruption scandal. Of course, the Venezuelan opposition and the various actors in the international community did not know about this. (The last episode is covered in an article we recently published).
Since it was not possible to meet at the usual venue, Guaidó called the assembly members to the El Nacional newspaper building to set up the session and appoint the Assembly Directorial Board for the year 2020. The event took place, and all the deputies who participated, one hundred in total, supported the formula proposed by deputy Delsa Solórzano: Juan Guaidó was re-elected as the president, deputy Juan Pablo Guanipa as the first vice-president, and deputy Carlos Berrizbetia for the second vice-president.
There was much curiosity to find out the final position of the 16th July Faction- a group made up of deputies from the parties of María Corina Machado and Antonio Ledezma, who in recent months have been extremely critical of Guaidó’s performance as the leader of the opposition and head of the Executive. Before starting the vote, Machado’s Vente Venezuela party deputy, Omar González, clarified it: “Although the 16th July Faction had planned to abstain from voting today, we have decided to support democracy.” All the deputies of the group, despite their immense differences with the way the interim government has been operating, supported the re-election of Guaidó. In that sense, the minority and majority opposition parties today agreed to ratify the interim government recognized by more than fifty countries, including the United States.
In his first speech after re-election, Guaidó spoke of rectification. Even considering today’s victory, the truth cannot be underestimated, and it becomes extremely uncomfortable for the interim government and Parliament: strategic errors, corruption, the process of dialogue, lack of transparency and communication have severely undermined people’s confidence in a leadership that insists on maintaining the reins of the process. On the other hand, Chavismo looks stronger than it did a year ago. The landscape is not very favorable anymore.