An Open Letter to Henrique Capriles

Un mujer sostiene una imagen del presidente de Venezuela Hugo Chávez durante una manifestación en Caracas, Venezuela, el miér
Un mujer sostiene una imagen del presidente de Venezuela Hugo Chávez durante una manifestación en Caracas, Venezuela, el miércoles 27 de febrero de 2013. Chávez está batallando por su salud y su vida, afirmó el jueves el vicepresidente Nicolás Maduro, quien aseguró el gobernante enfermó por entregarse a los pobres. (AP foto/Ariana Cubillos)

Dear Henrique,

On the occasion of your decision to run for president as the opposition Mesa de la Unidad Democrática (MUD) candidate in the forthcoming April 14 Venezuelan presidential election, I feel I must share some personal reflections with you.

First, let me congratulate you. I interpret your decision to mean that you are working for the creation of a Grand National Alliance that reflects the desire of the Venezuelan people to rescue our liberty and save our nation.

I imagine that the timing of the election, determined by the corrupt inheritors of Hugo Chavez, will yield enormous challenges when it comes to ongoing fraud, trickery and abuse of the Chavistas. As the recent MUD report on the October election correctly described it, our country is saddled with "a corrupt electoral process". I'm certain that the nation awaits your view on these issues, issues which cannot be ignored without running the risk of repeating tragic experiences from the past. Remember what's at stake: the Republic itself.

In your remarks on March 10 you expressed the plain truth: the Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE) -- formally known as the National Electoral Council, but in reality the regime's ministry of elections -- in collaboration with acting President Nicolas Maduro's de facto regime, planned, down to the last detail, the timing of the electoral process.

All the indications suggest that Maduro's campaign began months ago. This was only possible because Maduro and his Cuban masters knew the real state of health of Hugo Chávez and, protected by the farce they put on of his supposed recovery, tried to trick us all. It's clear both to the people of Venezuela and the world that Maduro is a usurper in his current position. His designation was spurious and he's illegally occupying a position that should rightfully be that of the President of the National Assembly. It's obvious, therefore, that you are participating in an election against an opponent that has illegally seized no less a position than that of acting President of the Republic.

In the face of this grave situation, it may seem that you are voluntarily legitimatizing this illegal move, something which, quite obviously, you would not be willing to do in normal circumstances. It is therefore necessary to clarify, for the benefit of both local and international opinion, that your apparent blessing of the timing of the election was forced upon you by the regime. You have to make it clear that you are not supporting the violation of our constitution and that an important part of your campaign is to expose what the truth.

You'll be aware that I have long considered the CNE to be no more than a tool of the regime to maintain its power. We face enormous risks if we don't display firmness when it comes dealing with the tricks and abuses of the Chavistas, which have been responsible for generating apathy and fear among Venezuelans. The elimination of the voting machines that capture voters' fingerprints is thus crucial and non-negotiable demand, and cannot be postponed because they are a further source of voter intimidation.

It has alarmed me to hear talk that there is no time to revise the electoral roster. I just don't understand how something so important for recovering the confidence of citizens in the electoral process has been omitted.

I believe it essential for you to remove the representatives of the MUD in the CNE. New representatives must be appointed, including technical staff from the Esdata and Asociación Civil Súmate NGOs, completely independent entities whose participation is indispensable if we're to have a high turnout at the election.

Another fundamental issue is the role of the armed forces. Their presence in polling stations must be rejected, as well as their control of voting machines and other material related to the election. Obviously the same goes for the Chavista militia.

The armed forces are currently run by officers who have proclaimed that they are "anti-imperialists, revolutionaries, socialists and Chavistas." They represent interests that clash directly with the interests of those to whom they owe their exclusive loyalty and obedience -- the people of Venezuela.

Admiral Diego Molero Bellavia, the usurper currently in charge of the Ministry of Defense, has shamefully exceeded the subservience of his predecessors in asking the people to vote for Nicolás Maduro. This abandonment of duty and violation of Article 328 of our Constitution shows that Venezuela no longer has armed forces, but rather an armed gang controlled by the Castro regime in Cuba.

Something else that cannot be passed over in silence is the regime's decision to hold a referendum on April 14, the same day as the presidential election, on whether to install Chávez's remains in the Panteón Nacional. What they are trying to do by this is not to honor the deceased president, but to involve him even more than he already is in this perverse, necrophiliac campaign, the only purpose of which is emotional manipulation of the ugliest kind.

Dear Henrique, you can be sure that, just as I did in the previous election campaign, I will make every effort to support those actions indispensable for the participation of Venezuelans in the electoral process in conditions that do not put the fate of the Republic at risk, a Republic that is dying in the hands of the most corrupt, incompetent and abusive regime in the nation's history. As I told you on February 12, 2012, your candidacy is not only yours but that of all Venezuelans who want to rescue the country. I'm one of them and you can count on me. In any case, now that the moment of truth has arrived, I'm convinced that Venezuela will either be saved in its entirety or not at all. When we Venezuelans really come together again, we'll be amazed at the things that we can achieve.

I take this opportunity to send you my warmest greetings and of course to wish you every success, a success that would also be ours. Count on me for whatever you might think necessary in the coming days.