MATURIN, Venezuela – As an atypical presidential campaign approaches its end, in Venezuela another non-electoral message is circulating around the country calling for the forced resignation of President Nicolas Maduro, who is running for re-election on May 20.
EFE accompanied the driving figure behind the initiative, opposition leader Maria Corina Machado, on a tour through the eastern state of Monagas to witness the activity in the run-up to the election.
Machado is a former congresswoman who founded her own party – Vente Venezuela (Come on Venezuela) – and is considered a radical opposed to Chavism, especially since 2014, when she began to push for demonstrations calling for the president’s resignation.
The leaders who sided with her in that challenging endeavor today are either imprisoned or have gone into exile, while she has been officially prohibited from leaving the country and banned from political participation for a year, not to mention being the frequent target of ridicule by the government.
This year, she told EFE, there “has been a breakdown” in Venezuelan society and in its political polarization as a result of the economic crisis, with “the only person to blame (for it) and the main obstacle to overcoming it” being Maduro.
So, with four men deciding to register to face off against Maduro at the polls in an electoral process considered to be fraudulent by the vast majority of the opposition and a good portion of the international community, Machado stepped up her national tour because, she said, “the day of the definitive breakdown of the dictatorship is close.”
She said she has rushed to visit 14 of Venezuela’s 23 federal states over the past three months and she has participated in about 100 activities so far this year to reiterate that the “only option” is to “kick out” the Bolivarian Revolution – which seized power in 1999 – “by force.”
Machado hastens to note, however, that she is not talking about any kind of armed struggle but rather the joining of “citizen forces against the regime” that will unite with the “institutional strength” of the opposition-controlled Parliament, which supports putting Maduro on trial for corruption.
In addition, she notes that the call for Maduro’s resignation is backed by dozens of governments around the world who reject the May 20 vote, but there is one other group that the movement needs to bring on board: the Venezuelan armed forces.
“We’re already in anarchy,” she said.
In Monagas this past week, the Vente Venezuela leader managed to bring her message to hundreds of people, urging them to abstain from casting ballots in the upcoming election, saying that the way to get out of the current crisis is via the ballot box but Maduro must be removed from the presidency.