CARACAS, Venezuela ( Associated Press) — Venezuela’s opposition faction backed by the United States announced plans on Monday to hold a primary contest to select a presidential candidate for next year’s 2024 election.
The unitary forum said in a statement that it has transformed into a “comprehensive and inclusive” organization with clear rules and concrete work areas.
“At this time, we will begin an intensive consultation process with the entire country to jointly build this powerful mechanism for selecting a candidate,” the statement said.
The announcement comes amid a recent meeting between opposition representatives and US officials in Central America to discuss a path to a unitary forum as talks with the administration of President Nicolas Maduro remain deadlocked.
The talks were suspended in October after a key Maduro aide was extradited to the US on money laundering charges. At that time, Maduro placed the condition of his return on the negotiating table on the release from custody of businessman Alex Saab, who was extradited from the African country of Cape Verde.
Talks aimed at resolving Venezuela’s long-standing political deadlock took place in Mexico City under the guidance of Norwegian diplomats.
The US and other countries withdrew Maduro’s recognition after accusing him of rigging his 2018 re-election. In his place, he recognized Juan Guaidó, then head of the opposition-dominated Congress, and remains the leader of the unitary platform.
For the past five years, the US has, with little success, ranged from punishing oil sanctions to criminal prosecutions and supporting covert coups in its campaign to overthrow Maduro and its campaigns to support what Venezuela saw as stolen democracy. I have tried everything. But in March, US officials met with Maduro in Caracas as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine rattled the world order and forced Washington to rethink its national security priorities.
The March meeting also came as the Venezuelan opposition struggled with utter apathy, despair and divided strategies, even as anti-Maduro candidates won significant victories during November’s regional elections. The state also included Maduro’s mentor and predecessor, the late President Hugo Chavez. was born.
The Unity platform also announced on Monday that it had named an executive secretary for the faction’s “contribution to the harmonious development of the debate and the strengthening of unity”.
“We reiterate that the fundamental purpose of a united struggle is to achieve political change, understanding that this is the only true way to stop the suffering of millions of Venezuelans.”