There is no doubt that unity among opposition parties in Venezuela is broken. We have always supported unity, not only because we consider it vital to defeat the dictatorship of Nicolás Maduro, but because it also seems essential to rebuild Venezuela once the corrupt, incapable and negligent people who rule the country leave power.
The opposition unity was already in pretty bad shape since January 2016. Cracks getting bigger every time started to show around that date, which today seems so distant. That continued to happen all this time and had other more recent episodes such as when Voluntad Popular (popular will), the party led by opposition leader Leopoldo López, decided not to attend the peace talks in the Dominican Republic, or when that same party announced that it would not participate in the upcoming presidential elections without taking into consideration the stance of other opposition parties.
Now, when the overwhelming majority of opposition parties decided not to participate in the elections, Avanzada Progresista (progressive advance) broke the unity even further by nominating its leader Henri Falcón as presidential candidate.
Now then, we believe that it is a mistake not to participate in these elections. We understand how hard this kind of decision is to make, but we are convinced that it would have been better to make an electoral campaign demanding electoral guarantees, denouncing the violation of political rights and the need to restore democracy, and also complaining about the violation of social rights in which has incurred the government of Maduro for denying a good part of the Venezuelan population the health and food they require, among other key issues.
The elections are a time of greater active participation of the Venezuelan people. They allow all social sectors in the country to communicate with each other. Besides, it won’t be possible to denounce the fraud if there is no participation. What happened in Bolívar state in October of last year is an example of what we are saying here. Participation allows us to confirm that the vast majority of Venezuelans reject the dictatorship of Maduro. Voting will bring out that fact. They say that voting legitimates dictatorship, yet we are convinced that the government of Maduro is not legitimated by anything or anyone.
That presidential candidacy, which had to be unitary, was something to be decided as events unfold. We believe that promoting abstention once again, no matter whether they name it active or not, is a mistake. We believe that the only thing that is going to activate is social networks. We hope that we are wrong.
Some changes in the electoral conditions were achieved on Thursday. Of course they are not the best, but they do represent a slight improvement. Some of them are unacceptable, such as the presence of the so-called "red voting stations," but it must not be forgotten that we are facing a dictatorship.
The chances of a victory by Falcón are remote. We don’t believe that he relies on the proper financial resources. The existing censorship and self-censorship in several national media is another factor to take into account. His party is a new political organization with little impact at country level. He has to put together a team to oversee the votes, because Maduro will do anything to win.
However, there is an important factor that may play in favor of Falcón: the huge popular discontent against the government of Nicolás Maduro. If his leadership is capable of stirring up a sentiment against abuse, arbitrariness, starvation, inflation, shortages of medicines, among others, Falcón has a chance of winning the elections. It is quite unlikely, but not impossible.