Thu, Nov 07, 2013 - Page 7 News List

Venezuelan shadow governments rile opposition leaders

AFP, CARACAS

Venezuela’s leftist government has created shadow governments in states led by the opposition, establishing special entities with money to spend ahead of next month’s crucial, test-of-strength municipal elections, experts say.

Three government-funded corporations have popped up since March in states that elected opposition governors in December last year. Sanctioned by law, the state corporations have their own budgets for public works and in every case are led by the losing “Chavista” gubernatorial candidate.

For instance, in the populous state of Miranda, which includes part of Caracas and whose governor is opposition leader Henrique Capriles, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elias Jaua heads “CorpoMiranda.”

Capriles says that “the money allocated to CorpoMiranda is not to resolve problems, but for political activities.”

He says the corporation received more funds this year than the entire state budget, which is also assigned by the central government.

Jaua, on his Twitter account, denies that and insists “we are performing miracles for our people, efficiently and honestly.”

The rivalry has intensified with the approach of the Dec. 8 municipal elections, which are being closely watched as the first real test of political strength since Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s disputed election on April 14.

Maduro was handpicked by former Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez to be his successor, but the coming contest will indicate how much force the endorsement still carries as the country confronts a deepening economic crisis.

“The government seeks to weaken the image, the authority and the financial resources available to the elected authority by establishing a parallel administration,” said John Magdaleno, an expert on Venezuelan politics.

The state corporations have precedents that go back to the 1960s and in the late 1980s, they were assigned different territories as part of a decentralization effort. Chavez, however, was the first to create a parallel local government in 2009 after his party lost the mayoralty of Caracas to the opposition.

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