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LATIN AMERICA | 10-01-2023 17:32

Maduro '100% defeatable' says Venezuela opposition leader Guaidó

Venezuela's opposition replaced Juan Guaido as the head of a foreign-backed parallel congress, hammering the final nail in the coffin of his "interim government." Despite the setback, he says he's confident Nicolás Maduro can be defeated at the ballot box.

With the end of his symbolic interim government, which Juan Guaidó hoped would push President Nicolás Maduro from power, the opposition leader is now proposing primary elections to reunify a fractured opposition, insisting that nation's current president is "defeatable." 

"The problem we have today is to reunify the democratic alternative. Once the democratic alternative is reunited, Maduro is 100 percent defeatable," the 39-year-old said Monday in an interview with AFP in Caracas, ahead of presidential elections slated for 2024. 

Guaidó, who is the target of numerous judicial processes in his country, hopes the primaries can take place in the first half of this year. 

Riven by divisions, the opposition itself has recently eliminated the "interim government" that in January 2019 had been recognised by the United States and fifty other countries due to challenges to Maduro's re-election a year earlier.

 

Are you disappointed with the old allies who withdrew support for the "interim government"?

We are focused on what we have demanded from early on: free elections, a presidential election that we have been owed since 2018, and the pending task is to reunify the democratic alternative, which is the majority.

More than disappointed, I think that today as Venezuelans we feel disgust, not with our allies, but with everyone's behaviour ... More than disappointed in one, two or three people, more than that, I share the feeling of disgust for what is currently happening in Venezuelan politics, which must transcend partisan interests and continue fighting for the common good... I assume my share of responsibility." 

There is a process of restructuring, of reconstruction ... and I believe that we also have the opportunity around the corner, which is the primary election ... We must get ready immediately.

 

How did the progressive loss of international support, together with the shift to the left of several Latin American countries, affect you?

Getting close to Maduro is a mistake ... Yes, certainly an Alberto Fernández [president of Argentina] getting close to Venezuela clearly weakened the position of the interim government. Much better a country solidly denouncing a dictatorship than relativising it, the same with the president [Gustavo] Petro [in Colombia], the same with [Andrés Manuel] Lopez Obrador [in Mexico]...

The international community has great weaknesses in holding dictators to account.

 

After all the divisions, can the opposition win the 2024 presidential elections?

If there is unity, without a doubt. The problem is not Maduro, or rather, the problem we have today is to reunify the democratic alternative. Once the democratic alternative is reunited, Maduro is 100 percent defeatable ... Facing the possibility of a free and fair election, Maduro is absolutely weak, defeatable.

 

Is the opposition losing strength in the negotiations that resumed with Maduro delegates last November in Mexico?

[Eliminating the interim government] does not put us in a better position ... but we are ready for an agreement that has to do with electoral conditions to make an election a political solution to the conflict we are experiencing in Venezuela.

 

Will you be a candidate in possible primaries?

My candidate is the union. My candidate, then, is the primary and when we have primaries, when we have a schedule, I will make a decision ... Today all of us [the main opposition leaders] are incapacitated, imprisoned or in exile. So a lot will have to do with how Mexico evolves and how the possibility of a competitive primary and a free, fair and competitive [presidential] election evolves.

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by Patrick Fort & Esteban Rojas, AFP

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