Venezuela: Information on Un Nuevo Tiempo (UNT) political party, including objectives and ideology, organisational structure, key positions and leaders, conditions to become a member; description of membership cards; treatment by authorities (2014-August 2016) [VEN105602.E]

Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Ottawa

1. Overview

Sources indicate that Un Nuevo Tiempo (UNT) is a Zulia-based political party founded in 1999 by Manuel Rosales (UNT n.d.a; PHW 2015, 1623) and "regional dissidents from the Democratic Action Party (ibid.). Rosales was governor of the state of Zulia from 2000 to 2008, and mayor of Maracaibo, the capital of the state of Zulia, between 2008 and 2009 (UNT n.d.b); he was considered an "outspoken" critic of former president Hugo Chávez (PHW 2015, 1623; Telegraph 22 Apr. 2009). The website of the UNT indicates that that political party won the 2000, 2004, and 2008 gubernatorial elections for the state of Zulia, as well as the Maracaibo mayoralty elections of 2000 and 2008 (UNT n.d.a).

According to sources, during the 2006 presidential election campaign, the UNT rallied around Rosales to challenge then president Chávez (Lecturer 25 July 2016; PHW 2015, 1623) and led a coalition of 44 other opposition groups (ibid.). The Political Handbook of the World (PHW) indicates that Chávez won the presidency "by a 62-37 percent margin voting that was internationally judged to be free and fair" (ibid., 1618). In a telephone interview with the Research Directorate, a lecturer of Latin American politics at the University of Toronto, whose research focuses on contemporary Venezuelan politics, stated that Rosales recognized Chávez' victory (25 July 2016).

The PHW notes that following the 2006 election, "the UNT ceased to play a formal leadership role in the opposition, as the coalition's member parties remained autonomous" (2015, 1623). However, sources indicate that in 2007, the Democratic Pole (Polo Democrático) (Noticias24 7 Mar. 2014; UNT n.d.a) and Democratic Left (Izquierda Democrática) political parties joined the UNT (ibid.; PHW 2015, 1623). Several members of the Only One People (Un Solo Pueblo) political party also joined the UNT in 2007 (Noticias24 7 Mar. 2014; UNT n.d.a).

2. Objectives and Ideology

A UNT document that outlines its ideological position states that the party "identifies itself with the concept of Social Democracy … [and its] purpose, which is to further democracy and extend it, from the liberal and political field to one that also covers the economic and social spheres thus building a solid basis for human liberty" (UNT n.d.c). A further publication on the UNT website notes that the party stands behind the following "programmatic proposals": division and autonomy of all branches of government; universal social security; mixed economy that combines public and private investment; respect for private property and stimulus of national and international private investment; support for national agriculture as a national interest policy; gender equality; social and economic justice for indigenous people; and de-politicization of the oil industry (ibid. n.d.d). The Lecturer indicated that the UNT's objectives also include the decentralization of the state apparatus, and the protection of basic rights and freedoms (Lecturer 25 July 2016). According to the same source, the UNT is more concerned with power than ideology, and has programmatic priorities focused on the referendum against President Nicolás Maduro, freeing Rosales, and the prospects of a presidential election in the coming months (ibid.). Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted within the time constraints of this Response.

According to the Lecturer, the UNT's policies "resemble social-liberalism" and propose classic liberal economic policies that aim at "putting money in the pockets of consumers;" such ideals were exemplified during the 2006 presidential campaign in which Rosales proposed "Mi Negra," an initiative that would provide citizens a cash payment of US$200 per month (25 July 2016) [1].

3. Structure

The website of the UNT provides the following positions and names:

  • Manuel Rosales Guerrero, Founding leader (Líder Fundador) (UNT n.d.b);
  • Pablo Pérez Álvarez, governor of the state of Zulia (n.d.e);
  • Omar Barbosa, Executive President (Presidente Ejecutivo) (ibid. n.d.f);
  • Evelin Trejo de Rosales, wife of Rosales and a leader of the party (ibid. n.d.g);
  • Enrique Márquez, Vice-president of Electoral and Organizational Affairs (n.d.h);
  • Timoteo Zambrano, Director of the International Political Committee (Director del Comité de Política Internacional) (ibid. n.d.i);
  • Yenny De Freitas, Political Secretary (Secretario Político) (ibid. n.d.j);
  • Liliana Hernández, Political Secretary (ibid., n.d.k); and
  • Diego Scharifker, Director of Youth National Wing (Dirigente Juvenil Nacional) (n.d.l).

According to the Lecturer, since Rosales has been in jail, the two most prominent party members are Evelin Trejo de Rosales and Pablo Pérez Álvarez, the latter whom he described as a "protégé" of Rosales (Lecturer 25 July 2016). Sources report that Rosales was being sought by Venezuelan authorities for corruption charges (Telegraph 22 Apr. 2009; BBC 16 Oct. 2015) during his time as governor of the state of Zulia between 2000 and 2008 (ibid.). Rosales went into self-imposed exile in Peru in 2009 (ibid.; Telegraph 22 Apr. 2009), remaining outside of Venezuela until October 2015, when he returned and was immediately arrested at the Maracaibo airport (BBC 16 Oct. 2015). The Lecturer explained that

most political parties in Venezuela kind of operate as electoral vehicles for presidential aspirations of particular people and/or patron-client networks to have access to state revenues and power. These parties are focused on a particular figure-head. The UNT is really organized around Rosales. (ibid.)

Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

4. Membership

The website of the UNT contains an electronic registration that individual's complete in order to become a member of the party (UNT n.d.m). A copy of the electronic registration form is attached to this Response. Additional information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

5. Treatment by Authorities

Information on the treatment of UNT members by authorities was scarce among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this response.

According to the Lecturer,

Rosales had signed and publicly declared support for the Carmona decree while he was president during the short coup when Chávez was retained. The decree nullified the 1999 constitution, declared a state of emergency, declared martial law, banned protests, and put an end to the Bolivarian revolution. That is the dominant image of Rosales and the UNT: […] those who support the UNT are seen as a golpistas [participants in a coup d'état], corrupt, separatists, [and] are treated like the enemy. (Lecturer 25 July 2016)

Without providing further detail, sources report that Germán Mavare, a leader of the UNT, was shot dead in the state of Lara on 6 May 2016 (Agencia EFE 7 May 2016; Noticias24 6 May 2016). Additional information on the killing of Mavare could not be found by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

Note

[1] The Princeton University's Digital Archive of Latin American and Caribbean Ephemera contains a flyer of Rosales' presidential campaign which proposed that Mi Negra, a "social debit card," would grant families between 600,000 and one million Venezuelan Bolívar [or between US$280 and US$466 at the 1 January 2006 exchange rate]: 30 percent for "personal expenses" and 70 percent for housing, business ownership, and education (Princeton University n.d.).

References

Agencia EFE. 7 May 2016. "Leader of Opposition Party in Venezuela Assassinated." [Accessed 20 July 2016]

British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). 16 October 2015. Mark Rivett-Carnac. "Venezuelan opposition Leader Manuel Rosales Arrested After Six Years in Exile." [Accessed 15 Aug. 2016]

Lecturer, University of Toronto. 25 July 2016. Telephone interview with the Research Directorate.

Noticias24. 6 May 2016. "Dirigente de Un Nuevo Tiempo Germán Mavare fue asesinado en Lara." [Accessed 20 July 2016]

Noticias24. 7 March 2014. "Especial Ns4: Conflictos en UNT evidencian que 'en los últimos años ha venido en franco deterioro'." [Accessed 16 Aug. 2016]

Political Handbook of the World (PHW). 2015. "Venezuela." Edited by Thomas Lansford. Washington, DC: CQ Press. [Accessed 20 July 2016]

Princeton University. N.d. Digital Archive of Latin American and Caribbean Ephemera. "Mi Negra: Una oportunidad para salir de abajo. La tarjeta de débito social. Manuel Rosales Presidente." [Accessed 16 Aug. 2016]

Telegraph. 22 April 2009. "Venezuelan Opposition Leader Seeks Asylum in Peru." [Accessed 15 Aug. 2016]

Un Nuevo Tiempo (UNT). N.d.a. "Nuestro partido." [Accessed 20 July 2016]

Un Nuevo Tiempo (UNT). N.d.b. "Manuel Rosales Guerrero." [Accessed 20 July 2016]

Un Nuevo Tiempo (UNT). N.d.c. Un Nuevo Tiempo Es Democracia Social: Definición ideológica y lineamientos programáticos. [Accessed 20 july 2016]

Un Nuevo Tiempo (UNT). N.d.d. Propuestas programáticas para la discussion.[Accessed 20 July 2016]

Un Nuevo Tiempo (UNT). N.d.e. "Pablo Pérez Álvarez." [Accessed 20 July 2016]

Un Nuevo Tiempo (UNT). N.d.f. "Omar Barboza." [Accessed 20 July 2016]

Un Nuevo Tiempo (UNT). N.d.g. "Evelin Trejo de Rosales." [Accessed 20 July 2016]

Un Nuevo Tiempo (UNT). N.d.h. "Enrique Márquez." [Accessed 20 July 2016]

Un Nuevo Tiempo (UNT). N.d.i. "Timoteo Zambrano." [Accessed 20 July 2016]

Un Nuevo Tiempo (UNT). N.d.j. "Yenny De Freitas." [Accessed 20 July 2016]

Un Nuevo Tiempo (UNT). N.d.k. "Liliana Hernández." [Accessed 20 July 2016]

Un Nuevo Tiempo (UNT). N.d.l. "Diego Scharifker." [Accessed 20 July 2016]

Un Nuevo Tiempo (UNT). N.d.m. "Registro de militancia." [Accessed 20 July 2016]

Additional Sources Consulted

Oral sources: A professor of political science at the University of Toronto; Un Nuevo Tiempo.

Internet sites, including: Amnesty International; ContraPunto.com; ecoi.net; El Diario de Guayana; El Sol de Margarita; Factiva; Freedom House; Globovisión; Human Rights Watch; La Patilla; Notisemana; United Nations – ReliefWeb; United States – Department of State, Embassy in Caracas; Venezuela – Ministerio del Poder Popular para Relaciones Interiores, Justicia y Paz; Zulia por Dentro.

Attachment

Un Nuevo Tiempo (UNT). "Registro de militancia." [Accessed 20 July 2016]