By Carlos Camacho
Latin American Herald Tribune
CARACAS -- Venezuelan Presidential candidate Leopoldo Lopez became the first of several expected candidates to sign up for the primary elections where the Opposition plans to crown a single candidate to challenge President Hugo Chavez in the October 2012 Presidential elections.
“It is not just about a new government but about a new age for all Venezuelans,” said Lopez while inscribing his candidacy for the primaries. Later he promised to deal with “crime, unemployment and poverty.”
The Opposition Primaries will be held on February 12, 2012, to select candidates for President, mayor and governor races throughout the country. Lopez signed up with the Democratic Unity Board, or MUD for its initial in Spanish. An umbrella organization of opposition parties and groups, the understanding is that all opposition parties will back the candidates that win on February 12.
Lopez was barred from running for elected office posts in 2008 by the Venezuelan government, which accuses him of accepting money for his political party from state oil company PDVSA while both he and his mother worked there. In September, the InterAmerican Human Rights Court (IAHCR), a body of the Organization of American States, ruled that Venezuela was incorrect and that Lopez should be able to run for office. The Venezuelan government condemned the IACHR ruling, and the Supreme Justice Tribunal (TSJ), the nation's highest court, ruled that the IACHR judgement was wrong, as Lopez could run, he just was barred from SERVING in political office because of the fiscal malfeasance.
The other candidates expected to sign up for the primaries include Pablo Perez, who recently secured the backing of one of Venezuela’s oldest political parties, Accion Democratica (AD) and is the governor of oil-rich Zulia state; Maria Corina Machado, a legislator in the National Assembly; Henrique Capriles Radonski, the governor of Miranda state, where half of the capital of Caracas is located; Diego Arria, former Mayor of Caracas and Venezuelan Ambassador to the UN; and Former Supreme Court President Cecilia Sosa Gomez.
Pablo Medina is also expected to run in the primaries. Current Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma and Eduardo Fernandez who were also expected to run, both declined after failing to secure the backing of their parties; Accion Democratica, in Ledezma's case; and COPEI, the party that has traditionally backed Fernandez.