by John Haylett

Venezuela opposition leader Henrique Capriles was unrepentant this week after the Supreme Court of Justice dismissed his appeal that April’s presidential election be nullified for electoral fraud.

His lawyer Ramon Jose Medina said that the pro-imperialist leader might take his cause to the Organisation of American States (OAS) or even the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.

This is despite recognition of President Nicolas Maduro’s victory by the overwhelming majority of regional countries and by OAS secretary general Jose Miguel Insulza.

Capriles and those pulling his strings are clearly intent on maintaining maximum tension in the run-up to local elections scheduled for December 8.

Supreme Court of Justice president Gladys Gutierrez was scathing in her dismissal of the opposition leader’s petition, criticising his failure to provide proof and systematic attempts to demean the court’s integrity.

“It’s evident, therefore, that you didn’t go to the court with the intention to resolve a dispute,” she declared, telling Capriles that his threadbare case “trivialises democratic debate.”

The court president said that it wasn’t enough to highlight “delays in the voting process and alleged irregularities in some polling stations.”

The plaintiff had to show “that the will of the electorate was compromised.”

Instead of this, the candidate of United Democratic Roundtable (MUD) alliance had resorted to abuse of the National Electoral Council and of the Supreme Court, which he labelled “a court of the government” in April when he announced that he would challenge the democratic process.

The court fined him 10,700 bolivars for his contempt towards it and Gutierrez also referred the matter to the attorney general’s office in light of the “seriousness of the offences and disrespectful terms” used in his campaign.

Capriles is unrepentant, tweeting that he was “fined for defending the truth” and alleging that “the lack of justice in our country is unacceptable.”

This will play well with his sponsors in Washington and Miami, who persist with the fiction that Venezuela is a dictatorship because it refuses to kneel in fealty to the US empire.

US President Barack Obama might have felt uneasy over the Venezuelan opposition’s emulation of the shabby scheme adopted by so-called “birthers” who sought to discredit his own election campaign.

Capriles lapped up a document supplied by Guillermo Cochez, former Panamanian ambassador to the OAS, which purported to show President Maduro’s birthplace as Cucuta in north-east Colombia, making him ineligible to be Venezuela’s head of state.

Unfortunately for the MUD leader, the Colombian Registry Office exposed the document as a crude forgery.

National identification director Carlos Alberto Arias told local radio: “The document lacks the special features of our registers, such as a serial number,” adding that the personal identification number on the document actually belonged to another citizen.

The collapse of the opposition’s contrived electoral fraud appeal is not its sole problem.

Maduro announced on Wednesday that top Capriles ally Oscar Lopez was being investigated for money laundering, having been caught “red-handed.”

Foreign Minister Elias Jaua suggested that the investigation may be related to campaign finances used by Capriles during his 2012 and 2013 presidential bids.

Lopez is chief of staff to Capriles in the Miranda state governor’s office.

Money laundering is also one of the charges against opposition MP Richard Mardo, whose parliamentary immunity was suspended recently by the National Assembly.

Other opposition personalities coming under scrutiny recently include Miguel Henrique Otero, who publishes El Nacional, and website editor Leocenis Garcia who has alleged government involvement in corruption and manipulation of currency controls.

Both pro and anti-government supporters held mass rallies in Caracas last weekend, ostensibly to highlight corruption.

Capriles urged a moblisation to show that his people are “undaunted against the corrupt ones.”

However, National Assembly president Diosdado Cabello insisted: “The opposition will march in support of corruption. The Chavistas will march to fight against it.”

President Maduro, who has pledged greater efforts recently to combat corruption, told a rally at Bolivar Square: “I call on all the people of Venezuela to combat capitalist corruption, wherever it is, within the corrupt right wing or in a Chavista traitor who falls victim to it.”

He invited honest and truthful opponents of the government to join the democratic struggle.

Not all opposition parties in the MUD alliance are happy with Capriles’s leadership, with Felipe Mujica, who heads the self-styled social-democratic Movement towards Socialism (MAS), announcing its intention to leave MUD and put forward its own programme and candidates in December.

In contrast, the 11 parties that comprise the Simon Bolivar Great Patriotic Pole revolutionary alliance, including the United Socialist Party (PSUV) and the Communist Party (PCV) announced progress this week towards presenting a united list of candidates for mayoral and councillor positions.

“We announce to the nation the unified, perfect platform which will take us to an immense victory in the municipal elections,” said PSUV representative Jorge Rodriguez.

PCV leader Oscar Figuera was more cautious, recognising that there are issues still to be resolved in some states.

However, “we are advancing on the correct path of unity, of integration the real possibilities, of integration of a political, programmatic and electoral proposal towards a national agreement of unified character,” he stressed.

 John Haylett is political editor of the Morning Star

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