Venezuelan opposition coalition group Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD) Secretary General Ramón Guillermo Aveledo announced his resignation today, citing controversy and infighting within the MUD. Aveledo stressed, however, that he was not leaving the group, saying, "I am stepping aside, without breaking ties with the project. I am not leaving Unidad, only turning over the Executive Secretary [position]."
Addressing his reasons for departure, Aveledo cited increasing tensions and efforts to undermine both him and the MUD:
"In recent months, a cunning and vicious campaign has developed against la Unidad and its instrument, the Democratic Unity Roundtable [MUD], and it has been chosen with the goal of striking it, attacking the credibility of its spokesperson and servant. It began in the laboratories of arrogant power, but it did not remain there, fools welcomed it with lasciviousness. At the source or at the mouth, united shores have been wetted by these contaminated waters."
Much of the tension in the MUD over the past months stemmed from disagreements over how to best remove President Nicolás Maduro and the governing Socialist Party from office. Many protest leaders, including imprisoned former mayor Leopoldo López and deposed National Assembly Deputy Maria Corina Machado, have pushed for either Maduro's resignation or removal from office. Other, more moderate voices, such as Miranda state governor Henrique Capriles, have called for a measured approach that builds broad national support with the goal of a recall election in 2016. Aveledo, in his comments, seemed to endorse the long-term approach.
According to Caracas daily El Nacional, Aveledo said, "…though some don't admit it, all opposition actors have in mind the parliamentary elections of [Fall] 2015, but he clarified that success depends on assuming the opening that is asked of them. 'They must be prepared for thoroughly. It is not easy.'"
Aveledo leaves his role at an uncertain time for the MUD. Internationally mediated peace talks aimed at resolving disputes that caused violent protests earlier this year fizzled in late spring, and have yet to be reopened. Even López's imprisonment, a rallying point for many in the opposition, has stirred divisions within the party. Comments made by a MUD official earlier this month denied that the MUD was working towards López's release, saying that the situation was complicated because López planned to be jailed. While that official apologized and left the country, López remains imprisoned, and the MUD, conditioning their return to peace talks on his release, has not re-joined the government in negotiations.
Aveledo's resignation is unique in a country where politics and personality are usually intertwined, and officials do not usually step down on their own accord. Late President Hugo Chávez took office in 1998 and won each reelection until his death in March 2013. His successor, Nicolás Maduro, who won a close election over Capriles in April 2013, has been anointed as Chávez's son and charged with continuing the socialist revolution. The imprimatur of Chávez is seen as vital to Maduro's ability to win the election, rally political support, and hold together a fractious governing coalition.
Aveledo's full statement can be found here.