So, in one single and rather brief sentence the Venezuelan Constitution, once the best Constitution in the world, Chávez dixit, has been turned into the most malleable an useless piece of paper in the land. Remarkably, the decision cites Art. 231, which is the one that was asked to be interpreted and instead of citing the many articles relevant to the decision in the current 1999 Constitution, it goes back and cites Art. 186 of the old 1961 Constitution, which is not only obviously invalid, but also irrelevant, since there was no reelection (Wise move!) contemplated under the old Magna Carta.
But I keep going back to the motive in this crime: Why give such a twisted and convoluted interpretation, when there were other apparent more Constitutional paths available?
This tragicomedy has three main actors, with a ghost behind some of them: Hugo Chávez, Nicolas Maduro and Diosdado Cabello. (The ghost is Cuba):
Hugo Chávez may be in bad shape, but while he failed to say on Dec. 9th. what should happen in this particular case, he has never been one to want to give up power. Thus, clinging on to the position fits Chávez’ personality to the hilt. (And the ghosts desires) Today’s decision is consistent with not allowing either a temporal or absolute absence and just let Art. 235 of the Constitution ride. Imagine how ridiculous the interpretation was: The President can ask for it (Did he? I did not see him like I did on Dec. 9th. Did you?) and on top of that it can be as indefinite as he wants, without anyone allowed to question why he continues to be on leave. A good decision for Chávez, if he knows what is going on or expressed he wanted this to happen.
For Maduro, a very poor speaker (chosen by the Cubans), and fairly unknown to boot, the sooner a possible election takes place, the better for him, as there will be little time for the “people” to think about him and have an opinion. However, being such a yes man, Maduro will not go against Chávez wishes, imagine if Hugo resuscitates! (r the Cubans get mad!)
Time is also in Maduro’s favor in terms of the economy. The deficit for 2013 at Bs. 4.3 per US$ is about 16% of GDP. Devalue to Bs. 7.5 and you have about a 4% deficit in round numbers. Easy to finance. But each month you delay the devaluation (Ten days going so far) you generate the need to finance about Bs. 20 billion (US$ 5 billion) or take it from the mysterious parallel funds (If they all exist). If they all have what they are supposed to, you will be at zero by the end of the year.
You can also cut spending, which has already happened, but with an election coming and with Maduro as the candidate, you need all the spending you can get (or find!).
Then we come to Diosdado. He can support Maduro’s path, if that is what Hugo asked for, but as long as Chávez is alive, he can’t go a different way. But Diosdado knows time favors him. If Maduro runs the show for two or three months, with no economic adjustment in place, people may be fed up with Nicolas before even the race starts.
And why didn’t Hugo and Nicolas (And the Cubans!) want Diosdado to be President?
Easy. First they don’t trust him. Second, if a temporal (or absolute) absence was invoked and Diosdado became President, Maduro will be the candidate as: Nicolas Maduro, son of the man, member of PSUV, Chávez anointed successor, but Diosdado would control the purse strings. But, after tomorrow, under the wonderful and twisted interpretation by the Venezuelan Supreme Court, Nicolas Maduro will continue being the Vice-President of Venezuela under the “principle of continuity” cited by Luisa Estela Morales, President of the TSJ, today.
What this means is that if something were to happen to Hugo of a temporal or absolute nature, Nicolas would automatically become President under Art. 233 of the Constitution and run for President as the man in charge, controlling powers and purse strings all along. Moreover, he may even (Barring a Diosdado adventure) be President not for six, but for seven years as he would formally (Or would it have any formality?) assume his Constitutional term on Jan. 10th 2014.
And that is to me the only motive of this tortuous plot: This was the way to avoid Diosdado, have Maduro run as President and comply with Chavez’ wish to remain in power to the last breath.
And the economy? Who cares, let Nicolas take care of it, after all, politics is all that matters…