The opposition MUD coalition in Venezuela continues to cause controversy in the run up to the October 7 Presidential elections. On 11 September, four organisations within the coalition withdrew their support for opposition presidential candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski.
Citing disagreements with the document internal document Primary ideas of economic action taken by the National Unity Government 2013 The four parties Vota Piedra (Vote Rock), Cambio Pana (Change Friend), Unidad Democratica (Democratic Unity), and Mano por Venezuela (a Hand for Venezuela) formalised their decision with the National Electoral Council, meaning they will no longer appear on the ballot ticket. Vota Piedra, Leonard Chirinos, expressed his disagreement with Capriles’ government plan which was developed for discussion with The Venezuelan Federation of Chambers of Commerce (FEDECAMERAS), the controversial cartel whose former president Pedro Carmona swore himself in as president during the April 2002 coup. The MUD document aims to cut a public sector deficit of 8% to 3% by decentralising services to municipal governments and offering up infrastructure to ‘private initiative’. The plan would remove all government subsidies for housing, cut food subsidies by 60% over the next three years and raise the price of travel by 5% every four months. All expropriated land would be returned to previous owners within two years and the document opposes ‘excessive regulation’ advocating a banking sector reform to eliminate social responsibilities of the banks (who are currently required to pay 55% of their profits to social development projects including agriculture and housing). The plan concludes with the pledge to use presidential decree in order ‘dismantle the socialised and collectivised state model that has been created by the so-called revolution.’
Chirinos also denounced that he had received threats and “psychological pressure” from the opposition. Stating he had been called a “traitor” and his family told that “they are going to burn us alive”.
The withdrawal of the four political parties follows the criticisms of opposition legislator William Ojeda who also spoke out, criticising a 'hidden agenda' within the MUD. Ojeda was expelled from his party A New Time (UNT) a few hours later.
Chavez has strongly criticized the document, pointing out that the internal document is at odds with the summary of the oppositions proposed economic policy, publically released in January; stating ‘Behind his [opposition candidate, Capriles Radonski] democratic mask is the most horrendous thing in politics. Behind his deceptive message of progress and social welfare is the most savage neoliberal capitalist package that has been known in Venezuela and Latin America,’