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Manuel Antonio Rosales Guerrero is a Venezuelan educator and politician and was the most prominent opposition candidate in the 2006 presidential election, losing to incumbent Hugo Chavez. He served as a congressman, mayor, and governor, but in April 2009, stepped down as Mayor of Maracaibo when he was charged with corruption in Venezuela and fled to Peru. Rosales denies the charges, and was granted political asylum in Peru.
Rosales began his political career as a youth leader of the political party, Accion Democratica (AD), described by the BBC as "one of the two parties that dominated Venezuelan politics for most of the second half of the 20th Century". In 2000 he founded "his own centre-left party which he called Un Nuevo Tiempo" (A New Era); he describes "himself as a social democrat".
Rosales served as a congressman in the Zulia Legislative Assembly (19831994), Mayor of Maracaibo (19962000)Venezuela's second-largest city, in Zulia, Venezuela's wealthiest stateand Governor of Zulia for two terms (20002004 and 20042008).
Rosales was accused of participating in the 2002 "attempt to oust the president"; according to the BBC, "government supporters accuse him of taking part in a short-lived coup ...". Rosales signed the Carmona Decreea document drawn up on the day following the Venezuelan coup attempt of 2002, which saw the temporary removal of President Chavez. He declared that he signed during a "moment of confusion" after "Chavez's resignation, although [Chavez] later denied [the resignation]", and that he signed his attendance at a meeting he was urgently requested to attend.
Rosales was defeated by Chavez in the December 2006 Venezuelan election to choose a president for the six-year term beginning in January 2007. A primary election organized by Sumate had been scheduled for August 2006, but was cancelled when other presidential opposition candidates agreed to withdraw from the race and support Rosales. As "one of only two governors" opposed to Chavez, Rosales united the opposition, representing a broad coalition of parties and organizations opposed to Hugo Chavez. According to the BBC, "critics ... describe him as uncharismatic".
Rosales' platform was based on what he called "democracy and social justice" and crime; according to the BBC, "He has accused Mr Chavez of wasting the country's oil wealth on friendly governments abroad and of trying to introduce Cuban-style communism." Rosales said that the backbone of his government program would be the social arena, saying it would be a "sound and well defined" program, including a "fair allocation of oil revenues by means of two axes – minimum wage for all unemployed and direct contribution to the underprivileged". He stated that Chavez was vulnerable on his "massive foreign aid programs, government-approved takeovers of land and buildings, and the perception that crime is increasing". Rosales said, "We will distribute land to the peasants, but we will buy it in such a way as to respect the principle of private property, just as we will respect those of human rights and social justice." His platform would halt oil giveaways, "including sales of discounted oil to Cuba, until Venezuela reduced its high poverty rate."
Rosales accused Chavez of "overspending on a military buildup" and pledged "to use Venezuela's oil wealth to help the poor and improve education and health care", ridiculing Chavez's "claims of a possible war with the U.S." and saying, "Venezuela's real war should be against rampant street crime." The New York Times said, "Rosales has focused on other themes, including fierce criticism of the alliances Mr. Chavez has made with countries on the fringes of American influence, like Iran and Cuba. But his campaign's predominant message is that Mr. Chavez, despite his socialist talk, has failed to deliver oil wealth to the poor." The New York Times also said Rosales "has been pounding the crime issue, questioning why murders have surged since Mr. Chavez entered office", and saying Chavez's "confrontational style" was "feeding the crime epidemic".
Incumbent president Hugo Chavez was re-elected with 62.87% of the vote.
Rosales was re-elected Mayor of Maracaibo in the 2008 Venezuelan regional elections; according to the BBC, in "the campaign, Mr Chavez railed against him, threatening him with prison and accusing him of corruption and plotting to assassinate him". According to USA Today, Rosales characterized the allegations as an "electoral ploy to distract Venezuelans from pressing problems such as double-digit inflation and rampant crime".
Rosales was charged by the Venezuelan Attorney General with corruption in late 2008, accused of "misusing public funds" during his term as Governor of Zuliachlarges which he denies. Prosecutors say he obtained $60,000 illicitly while he was governor. According to Rosales, a 20022004 investigation that "was closed for lack of evidence" was "'suddenly reopened by orders from above,' alluding to Chavez".
Rosales went into hiding in March 2009 when charges were filed, and failed to appear in court in April. On 22 April it was reported that he had sought political asylum in Peru. Interpol issued a "red notice" at Venezuela's request.
According to CNN, "[o]ne of Rosales' lawyers noted that Chavez said publicly in October 2008, before Rosales was charged, that he wanted the mayor in prison." Rosales' supporters characterized the charges as a "political witch hunt". According to the BBC, "His decision to leave Venezuela is the latest development in a long-running feud with Mr Chavez." Venezuelan authorities deny that the charges are politically motivated.
On April 28, 2009, Venezuela withdrew its ambassador to Lima in response to Peru's decision to grant Rosales political asylum. Peruvian officials said the decision was part of their "long-standing commitment to international law"; Venezuelan officials called it a "mockery of international law, a strong blow to the fight against corruption and an offence to the people of Venezuela", saying that Rosales should have been detained and extradited.
The 2009 Human Rights Watch report mentions Rosales as an example of political persecution, questioning the judicial procedures against him.
Rosales was a teacher before moving in to public service. He was a co-founder of Universidad Nacional Experimental Sur del Lago, and received numerous distinctions and honors for his public service.
He is married to Eveling Trejo de Rosales; they have eight children .
Un Nuevo Tiempo (Manuel Rosales' Political Party)
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Manuel Rosales