I have been saying that people have built up their expectations too high about the meaning of the recall referendum on Aug. 15th. Some think August 15th. is a magic date: We vote, wait for the outcome, game over either way and that’s it. Well, it is and it isn’t.
If Chavez wins, for those like me that do not like Chavez and what he stands for, it means he will have two more years to control more and more of the state and do more damage to the economy. But if he loses, it will only be another step in a long road to get rid of him, but it may not be the final step. This point was proven yesterday; when Chavez himself said in Argentina that if he loses on Aug. 15th. he will run again thirty days later to replace himself and complete his term.
To me Chavez revealed his strategy in this statement. He will risk the recall because he thinks he can win or lose by so little that he could beat any candidate or candidates in an election thirty days later. Maybe he can. I actually believe his strategy will be to finance a third candidate that may distract 8-10% of the opposition vote, allowing him to win. The only question is whether he can find such a figure, whether the opposition voters will be confused or not, and finally, and more importantly, whether Chavez will lose or not by less than 8-10% in the recall vote.
There is still confusion as to whether Chavez can or not run again if he is recalled. Some lawyers say the decision on June 15th. is not clear enough. I guess that is why I am not a lawyer, because it seems fairly clear to me.
Let’s examine it:
First the decision contains Art. 233 of the Constitution with the part that the recall is an absolute absence emphasized in black letters. Immediately after quoting Art. 233, it says:
“According to the regulation thus transcribed, the recall of the mandate given to the President of the Republic, according to the mechanism contemplated in Art. 72 of the Constitution would generate the absolute absence of the official, which will be filled according to….”
Then it looks at the mechanisms and concludes (I will insert in Spanish and English so that there are no nuances in the translation):
“Visto lo anterior, esta Sala observa que la revocatoria popular del mandato del Presidente de la República, de conformidad con los artículos 72 y 233 de la Constitución de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela, acarrea su falta absoluta en el cargo y, por ende, su separación definitiva del mismo por el período correspondiente.”
Which I would translate as:
“Given the above, this Hall observes that the popular recall of the mandate of the President of the Republic, according to articles 72 and 233 of the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, implies the absolute absence in the position and thus, the definitive separation of the official for the corresponding period”
After this, the decision does clarify that Chavez may run in 2006 and is not explicitly restricted from doing so like Deputies to the National Assembly.
I would appreciate any “legal eagle” readers that can clarify where the confusion is still present since to me the phrase “definitive separation of the official for the corresponding period” seems quiet definitive, no?
In the end, this will not be cleared up before the recall and the response by the Coordinadora Democratica by Pompeyo Marquez is the correct one. Marquez simply replied that if Chavez runs, he would have to be defeated twice. That’s good, don’t make an issue of whether he can or not run, let the Court decide whenever it does and just tell him he will be defeated. If the SI vote wins in August 15th. by a nice margin, it will probably be temerary for Chavez to risk running again so soon after a bad defeat.