What The Venezuelan Constitution Says About Replacing An Absent President

December 12, 2012


There have been many discussions in the comments about what Article 233 of the Venezuela Constitution says about how to replace the President of the country.

Let’s look at the article in Spanish:

Artículo 233. Serán faltas absolutas del Presidente o Presidenta de la República: la muerte, su renuncia, la destitución decretada por sentencia del Tribunal Supremo de Justicia, la incapacidad física o mental permanente certificada por una junta médica designada por el Tribunal Supremo de Justicia y con aprobación de la Asamblea Nacional, el abandono del cargo, declarado éste por la Asamblea Nacional, así como la revocatoria popular de su mandato.

Cuando se produzca la falta absoluta del Presidente electo o Presidenta electa antes de tomar posesión, se procederá a una nueva elección universal, directa y secreto dentro de los treinta días consecutivos siguientes. Mientras se elige y toma posesión el nuevo Presidente o Presidenta, se encargará de la Presidencia de la República el Presidente o Presidenta de la Asamblea Nacional.

Cuando se produzca la falta absoluta del Presidente o Presidenta de la República durante los primeros cuatro años del período constitucional, se procederá a una nueva elección universal y directa dentro de los treinta días consecutivos siguientes. Mientras se elige y toma posesión el nuevo Presidente o Presidenta, se encargará de la Presidencia de la República el Vicepresidente Ejecutivo o Vicepresidenta Ejecutiva.

En los casos anteriores, el nuevo Presidente o Presidenta completará el período constitucional correspondiente.

Si la falta absoluta se produce durante los últimos dos años del período constitucional, el Vicepresidente Ejecutivo o Vicepresidenta Ejecutiva asumirá la Presidencia de la República hasta completar el mismo.

The first part defines what an absence is. And then it says “When the absolute absence of the President elect occurs before he takes power, there will be a new universal election within thirty days immediately following. While the President is elected and the new President takes office, the President of the National Assembly will take office.

The next paragraph is what happens in the first four years of the Presidency.

And then it says: “In the cases before, the new President will complete the corresponding Constitutional period”. That is, if the President elect is incapacitated and there is time for an election and if the same happens to the elected President in the first four years of the term.

Finally it says: “If the absence occurs during the last two years of the Constitutional period, the Vice-President will assume the Presidency until it completes the term”

Some lawyers believe the last part trumps all, if the President dies the Vice-President takes over.

What is confusing is what it says about the new President completing the the Constitutional term. But this refers to the elected President only. That is, if the President elect dies with sufficient time to hold a new election and have a new President, before the term ends, the newly elected President would complete the term

But this is no longer the case. There is no time to elect a new President before the Constitutional period ends. There are less than thirty days until the inauguration. Thus, it is impossible for the “new President” to complete the term and the President-elect is not holding office, thus, he can not be replaced in office.

The only possibility left, is what the last part says that the Vice-President completes the term and the President of the National Assembly takes over on Jan. 10th. once the “Constitutional term” is completed.

Which makes you wonder about the timing of the operation. It was performed precisely on the day in which there were no longer thirty days left and there was no room for any other interpretation.

A simple example in which the President and the President-elect are different may clarify this:

Suppose Capriles had been elected and something happened to him. If this event happened with more than thirty days left for his inauguration, the President of the National Assembly would take over, elections would be scheduled and held and the newly elected President would complete the Constitutional term.

But if this happened within thirty days to the inauguration, only the Vice-President is empowered by the Constitution to complete the term. Nowhere does it say that the President of the National Assembly completes the term.

That is what lawyer say…

(The Minister of Information just said that Chavez may not be back for his new term)

82 Responses to “What The Venezuelan Constitution Says About Replacing An Absent President”

  1. Ronaldo Says:

    One thing is certain– The era of Chavez is closing. His public image is of a sick old disabled man. Chavez is begging for sympathy rather than acting as the heroic soldier of Venezuela. All the money and medical care in the world can only slow his eventual demise. When the pain and immobility increases, Chavez may not want to live longer.

    Points to consider-
    Chavez medical costs have likely exceeded $25 million by now including flying his 100 man entourage to Cuba multiple times. That is enough to give $10,000 worth of cancer treatment to 2,500 poor Venezuelans!

    The Cuban government must take full responsibility for Chavez failed treatments. Socialist-communist medical systems are not the best. Chavez’ cancer cannot be blamed on imperialist free-market countries which likely pioneered the treatments he has received.

    The current Venezuelan government will provide a Pharaoh’s funeral for Chavez with a massive parade and a month of mourning. This will distract the public while everyone steals what is left and gets it out of Venezuela. These include the Chavez family wealth.

  2. Bill S. Says:

    Hey Venezuelans, I’m seeing more and more sources now listing your country as being #1 in proven oil reserves. Those oil people talk, after they have had a few drinks. I’m wondering how Rice University got all the data for their Orinoco Belt study? Of course, Houston is the oil research capital of the world.

    • m_astera Says:

      Hi Bill-

      What we have here is sour asphalt. Well really it’s thick tar that you need to heat with steam to even get out of the ground. Then one needs to heat it again and take the Sulfur etc out so it’s clean enough to go to a real refinery. It’s not sweet crude. It’s tar. Venezuela probably has the world’s largest tar deposit. Sour tar. Still interested?

  3. Isa Says:

    From the WSJ article cited above:

    Mr. Chávez has been treated at Havana’s cancer center, which isn’t considered among the elite anticancer or sarcoma centers, a handful of which are located in the U.S. and Europe, doctors said. Mr. Chávez turned down an offer by Brazil’s president to be treated in a world-renowned cancer hospital in São Paulo.

  4. Manuel Says:

    I hate to say I told you so…but I told you so. With these morons ANYthing is possible. What, hes too ill to leave the hospital and take over? NOT a problem! We’ll take the supreme court to him and swear him in Cuba…you know, the OTHER Venezuelan state! And yes, I know, La Patilla isn’t exactly the highest level of news casting…but just the fact that its being mentioned I take it to mean that they are considering it as an excuse.


  5. Jack Ryan Says:

    Is he dead?

  6. Bill S. Says:

    ‘OUTLOOK For Chavez Darkens, Doctors Say’ – Wall Street Journal, free article.

    • syd Says:

      Thank you, Bill.
      The last two sentences of the extract, below, are revealing. I would wholeheartedly agree.

      “While he may have several months of renewed energy, he is likely to become increasingly symptomatic and tired.

      “Physically, as he goes through therapies, he’ll want to fight this, but as he does this it will take a toll on him. His stamina will steadily decline as he goes on in the treatment,” said Dr. Pishvaian. “Mentally, he’s going to be distracted by his sickness, by his mortality. Most people are afraid to die and it’s going to take away from the ability to focus on the task at hand.””

  7. moctavio Says:

    dianuevo: I am not going to repeat ten years of this blog, but I do have to say a couple of things:
    1) You suggest that under Salas Romer or Irene Saez crime would have increased equally. Well, the five years prior to Chavez crime went DOWN under Caldera, a President that was terrible, but who had to live thru oil at $10-15. Chavez replaced all professional police by military officers and up to last year refused to accept crime as a problem.
    2) You seem to dismiss the fact that oil went from $12 to near $100 now, that and Chavez’ charisma and control of everything are the only reasons Chavez has been reelected.
    3) Poverty has barely moved in these 14 years despite a TRILLION dollars entering the country. What the Chavez Government has done is to redefine poverty and how it calculates it.
    4) At $12 a barrel the bad Caldera Government built in 5 years more housing units than Chavez in his first ten years.
    5) Corruption has never been worse than it is now. I have documented billion of dollars of corruption., levels never seen in a country that was always corrupt.

  8. arco3 Says:

    Right now, I just love cancer!

  9. Kepler Says:


    Yes we have. Have you? Because most poor people in my native city in Venezuela have to deal with a centre for cancer treatment that is conked out half of the time.

    And have you thought what it feels when you are one of the relatives of the more than 11 thousand extra murders we are having since Chavismo has more than tripled the murder rate?


    • dianuevo Says:

      I already commented on you first paragraph. Let me comment on the second one. What did Venezuela look like in 1998? I quote “According to the United Nations, by 1997 the per capita income for Venezuelan citizens had fallen to US$ 2,858 from US$ 5,192 in 1990, whilst poverty levels had increased by 17.65% since 1980, and homicide and other crime rates had more than doubled since 1986, particularly in Caracas”.

      And you blame Chavismo for the tripled murder rate? What would have happened with crime if Irene Sáez or Henrique Salas Römer won the election in 1998? I think it would be even worse.

      • Kepler Says:

        You don’t seem to do much of logical thinking, do you?

        Didn’t you read what I said about OIL PRICES?
        So: it is no surprise capital income goes up and down according to oil prices through the decades. Please, before writing rubbish try to learn the most elementary things about economics. Also take the time to read a chart about oil prices that goes beyond 1998 and try to THINK about what it all means.
        Venezuelans have got the crumbles. We had another oil boom which was not as important and as long as now and that was in the early seventies. Back then the standard of living of Venezuelans was well above that of most Latin American countries. Now it is NOT.
        Do you get that?

        Yes, I do blame Chavismo for the tripled murder rate because real
        social justice have not improved.
        What an ignorant! You don’t even take the time to read BCV reports
        or ponder upon what the Chavez government delivers to the UN statistical units.
        Chavez himself denied many times crime statistics had worsened since he is in power, which is an amazing fact to do.
        If you have someone who can be so shameless as not to concede that MURDER RATE WAS 19 when he came to power, that it went up, up, up, and now it is around 70 x 100 000, the guy and those who believe in him are beyond hope.

        In any nation on Earth when the murder rate goes up more than, say, 10%, over several years, people don’t keep blaming it on past governments.
        Venezuela is completely on its own league. Not even Mexico has this evolution.

        Have you seen the evolution of murder rates in the rest of South America
        since the eighties? No, you haven’t done so. Murder rates have remained rather stable or gone down a lot…not in Venezuela.

        The murder rate in Mexico (which is not South America) did climb a lot but it is still just a third of what Venezuela has…and the past government had publicly acknowledge that yes, they haven’t been able to cope with it and they in fact said publicly, on TV, in front of people whose relatives were killed by common crime, that indeed things have worsened in their term.

        Not so the fucking thief Chávez.

        By God, in the late seventies you would have been a perfect Adeco.
        Your sense of history or economics is close to ZERO.

      • Kepler Says:

        By the way: murder rate in the Gómez time was about 19 x 100 000, the same level we got in 1998. The murder rate had done a hike from the late eighties up to the mid nineties and then stopped going up, exactly as the the economy started to produce some ( RUALCA was exporting in 1998 96% of its production, now it doesn’t exist).

        You can check out the murder rate year by year. And then it started to go through the roof in spite of the fact Chavismo has more than 8 times the amount of money the governments in the nineties had.

        This is amazing.

        And meanwhile Chavez clans gets richer by the day.

        Piss off

      • dianuevo Says:

        Thank you for pointing out your ideas and views about history, politics, economics and how to end a discussion…

        • Kepler Says:

          That’s fine. You can go back to reading Dutch news and pretending to be the “nuanced guy” who build bridges.

          If you want to take part in a discussion about Venezuela, try to learn a little bit more about the poor beyond what the cleaning lady tells you.

          Actually, most of my relatives live in very Chavista territory, but they neither voted for AD when those who vote for Chávez voted for AD nor do they vote for Chávez…because they all grasp a little bit better what the oil cycle is and they have taken the time to find out Chavismo is proportionately speaking stealing much more than the very corrupt Adecos did.

          Take a look at the FONDEN resources. Miguel Octavio has documented that very well. Take a look at what Ramirez is doing with PDVSA. Carlos Andrés Pérez and his thieves were saints compared to this crap…they just didn’t have an oil boom for the second time.

        • dianuevo Says:

          I hope I do not have to repeat my first comment. You do not know anything about me so stop making assumptions about me. And although they are quite funny they only make you look really stupid.

          • Kepler Says:

            I think we disagree on who looks more stupid. You should stop annoying people who are not Chávez followers and change your blogroll to the kind of people who write in Aporrea and for the PSUV.

        • dianuevo Says:

          Thank you for the open discussion about intellects. You just proved my point again.

          • Kepler Says:

            Whatever. Split. You are a new troll who doesn’t bring up new arguments, just the same old selected data crap Chavista trolls bring over time after time.
            “You just proved my point” is the same rubbish that Chris Carlson keeps posting in Caracas Chronicles. Really: go visit Aporrea.

      • m_astera Says:

        Excuse my Canadian, but fuckin’ eh, Kepler. You nailed that troll on the first one, then he had the nerve to say you were ending the discussion. ummm. Good job man. Do you think he might actually look at something new now, or does his paycheck depend on him not understanding? (Sinclair Lewis)

  10. dianuevo Says:

    Everyone is talking about politics and I needed to find out through foreign media that the recovery of Chavez does not go that well. Anyone ever thought about what cancer actually does with a person and his or her family?

    • Kepler Says:

      Oh, my God! I saw your blog. You really seem to know about your own country less than Britney Spears knows about quantum physics.

      “There are a lot of people in Venezuela who live beneath the poverty line. And 14 years ago, things were even worse. Something like arriving at a hospital in desperate need of medical attention only to find out that the doors were closed was very common. Being poor meant that you could not have hopes and dreams and nobody in the government acknowledged this. Poor people where a nuisance to them.

      In that era Chavez came into play. His message was giving hope for the poor.”
      Venezuelan governments have been giving “hope” to the poor at least since AD won the first elections in the forties.
      That hope was higher or lower depending on something called “oil prices”.
      Oil prices are based on something called supply and demand.
      At this moment, even if the current government is getting SEVERAL TIMES the amount of money the previous governments got for a long long time, people are still been turned back at hospitals or they get a shitty treatment that is almost as bad as nothing because there are no resources (they get more often stolen now as most directors are Chavista thieves and there is widespread theft of hospital resources)
      and the attendance to public schools hasn’t gone up but slightly down.

      • dianuevo Says:

        Your comment highlights the way most of you people think. You see somebody on television and you already know everything about this person. You presume that Ms. Spears is a ‘dumb blond’, but you forget the fact that she is an award winning star. This means that she is everything but dumb. As you know nothing about her, you cannot tell what she knows about quantum physics. You might be in for a surprise.. So thank you for comparing me with her.

        I would also like to thank you for quoting my post. I disagree with your view. Let me ask you some questions. What is the reason that Chavez got elected 14 years ago? Because everyone was doing well? And how is it possible that someone can stay in power for 14 years? Just by giving hope and doing nothing? Yes Chavez is a populist, but at least he did something for the less well off. They are better of now than they where 14 years ago.

        You say that oil prices are based on ‘something like supply and demand’ . I think you should inform yourself a bit better, because there are a lot of politics involved here. Furthermore, the market is not as transparent as you might think it is. Stuff like HFT (high frequency trading) is controlling a large part of the market nowadays. It ain’t pretty, but it is a fact. Yes, the oil prices are higher and the government has more to spend. But I think there is more to it, as the previous governments where also very good in putting money down the drain.

        My experience with hospitals differs from your view. If it is as bad as you say, how is it possible that someone I know who did not have any funds and had stage III – IV cancer got a very good treatment in a public hospital, even according to western specialists? Sure, it is not the same in every city or village, but still it is way better than it was.

        I think it is not just black and white. I think it is grey. For Venezuela to be successful in the future people need to start building bridges. This counts for both parties in the political spectrum.

        • syd Says:

          My experience with hospitals differs from your view. If it is as bad as you say, how is it possible that someone I know who did not have any funds and had stage III – IV cancer got a very good treatment in a public hospital, even according to western specialists?

          1. Your experience, dianuevo (oh, what a clever little nick you’ve chosen for yourself), or that of your generic “someone you know”?

          2. Stage III or IV? Or, does it go from III to IV? If so, then clearly the treatment was not that good, was it?

          3. What type of cancer? Precisely?

          4. Public hospital — which one? Where? Exactly?

          Otherwise, save your generic little laurels for your airy blog and airhead readers. In this pit, we talk specifics.

    • moctavio Says:

      We still dont even know what form of cancer it was. He had “complications” some hemorrhaging, we officially dont even know where, how much. We were told he was in his room, which is a lot of BS now that we were told this. So, what can we write about. His own brother said yesterday everything was fine. We know what happens to families, at least he has care and medicines. Last weekend the cleaning lady we used to have in Caracas asked us for money, she needed to buy some antibiotics for her daughter who was operated of appendicitis. The public hospital had none. It was about Bs. 2,000 she needed, half what she makes a month. The reality is very crude in Venezuela, you can’t even imagine how much.

      • ErneX Says:

        Pretty much this, we know it’s cancer but not the details or the prognosis, they keep lying and hiding information.

      • dianuevo Says:

        ‘Last weekend the cleaning lady we used to have in Caracas asked us for money’ I bet you provided the money. That is what’s called building a bridge. As you point out in a very good way, reality still is crude. The lower class still struggles to much and this is also the reason why Chavez gets reelected every time.

        • Wanley Says:

          That is why he keeps them poor and without education. It’s not too hard to see.

        • syd Says:

          But it’s impossible for folks like dianuevo et al to see.

          Here’s why. Secretly these lefty characters consider themselves far more important/valuable than the poor they pity. For them, the cosmetic services of the Chávez government are just perfect. For these services keep the poor poor.

          If the poor were really given quality education, be that in an academic of a technical sense. And if the poorwere given the opportunity to work themselves out of their current hell holes (private sector jobs), then they would no longer be so poor. And they would upset the balance between poverty and the pseudo-intellectuals that pretend to empathize with this sector.

  11. m_astera Says:

    Just got back to the island after six weeks in Europe, doing my usual nutritional agriculture thing. The unsecurity BS at the Caracas airports was the same, they are just playing the game, mimicking the Americans. Got off the airplane at Porlamar wanting to feel home again and had to go through another gauntlet, where they scanned my passport and took a photo of me to let me in? Anyone feel safer standing in another line to be photographed and have your ID scanned to be let into the place where you live, into your own home, after being through two security checks at the Caracas airport? (As opposed to having the police actually do their job and take care of theft, robbery, kidnapping, and murder?) Looks more like Cuban/Chinese surveillance to me. Got to get your every movement on their hard drive.

    Are you all OK with this? Does it make you feel safer, to get off the last plane home after so long, after all of the crap at Maiquetia International and National terminal to get to Margarita, and have to show your ID and be photographed to get in?

    It creeps me out. Those who give up freedom for a promise of security deserve neither, and will get neither.

    Second time I have gone through this in the last couple months. It’s why I gave up and left the US. I may have to leave this place I love so much and find somewhere else to live. I am staying around for the present to see what happens, but WTF?

    Do you feel safer? If so I’m surely in the wrong country. I recall coming here for the first time in 2006. Bought a ticket to Margarita and the guys running tickets sold waaay too many through their friends behind the counter. Ended up with a planeload of people and no plane. We were waiting in the downstairs departure area at Maiquetia, and people were angry because the plane was full. Talking about it. The guardia nacional came down to sort things out. They were standing outside the exit door after the people were told the plane was full. I watched a woman, several of them actually, get up in the guard’s faces, yelling at them. Getting right in the faces of the airline people too. We got another plane to Margarita. The airline brought it in.

    I was so impressed with the courage shown against pretend authority. Fake soldiers in fatigues with rifles and pistols, and the women at least had the guts to put them in their proper place. Right in their face.

    How far you have fallen, Venezuela. Standing in line like American sheeple, to let the government photograph you and scan your cedula, in your own home, just for the privilege of getting off an airplane that you paid for seat on. The place that I loved so much because you didn’t give a damn about what some authority figure in a uniform thought you should do. How far you have fallen.

    No guts left, or what?

  12. Alex Says:



  13. Kepler Says:

    Soñé que Chávez se recuperaba totalmente..

  14. BillyW Says:

    I think it is great that a Chavista supporter talks about “Ethics”. Is it ethical that after a year an a half the Venezuelan people still have little idea about the true nature of his ailment and what has happened since it first surfaced? Is it ethical that they are still lying about saying they did not know the cancer had returned, while Chavez could barely show up for his last rallies before the election? Is it ethical that nobody knows how the parallel funds are being managed? Is it ethical to violate the law and the Constitution repeatedly? Is it ethical not to name a Comptroller just because you can’t decide who it will be without the opposition having a say? Is it ethical to allow thousands of people to die, mostly the poor because crime has not been an electoral factor until now? Is it ethical to lie about poverty figures by manipulating? Ditto literacy. Ditto malnutrition.

    What an unethical bullshit artist artist this guy is.

    • Dr. Faustus Says:

      And most importantly, is it ethical that there is still no accurate accounting of the billions of dollars of oil revenue taken in over the past decade? Where’d all the money go?

    • Again, doesn’t matter if it’s ethical or not, not for them. That word doesn’t mean a thing in their vocabulary. What it matters is the benefits/advantages they will get with such behavior… If it’s convenient, they’ll do it.
      The held a Mass at Fuerte Tiuna, for God’s sake!

    • megaescualidus Says:

      Was it ethical to layoff 20,000 PDVSA workes “with the stroke of a pen” (sort of)? Does anyone remember “pa’ fuera”?

  15. loroferoz Says:

    “Cuando se produzca la falta absoluta del Presidente electo o Presidenta electa antes de tomar posesión, se procederá a una nueva elección universal, directa y secreto dentro de los treinta días consecutivos siguientes. Mientras se elige y toma posesión el nuevo Presidente o Presidenta, se encargará de la Presidencia de la República el Presidente o Presidenta de la Asamblea Nacional.”

    But… Hugo Chavez is not just President elect (sigh, Venezuelans are really dumb). He is (unfortunately for he has never behaved like one) the President, incumbent, sworn in. He ***took*** possession in 2007 if memory serves me. Clearly he is not the President elect before taking possession.

    Of course, had Capriles Radonski or any other challenger been elected and had something happened to him before taking possession, then the first comma applies and the President of the National Assembly (Diosdado Cabello, God what a gallery of horrors) must take over as acting President until all the election and such is cleared.

    This means clearly that the VP, Nicolas Maduro (ugh!) must take charge until the end of the period.

    Then, I am no expert, but I suspect that now another set of rules must apply, how to organize elections at lightning speed to ensure continuity. That would be, if Venezuela were actually run according to the (abort, by own parents, of the) Constitution of 1999.

    My guess is that they (sorry bastards… NOT, just bastards) did it the way you say just to slap whatever interpretation is best for their interest of PSUV, and to hold on to power for as long as possible and “como vaya viniendo vamos viendo”. For there’s no chance in hell they will even try to organize an election in what’s left til January 10. They will probably invent something for Maduro or Cabello to hold on until December 2013 without elections.

    • extorres Says:

      loroferoz, the fact that chavez is the president should not take away, let alone trump, the fact that he is the president elect. As far as a constitution is concerned, those are variables filled with names. As soon as someone is named for the variable of president elect, the paragraph of the constitution related to president elects kicks in.

      • loroferoz Says:

        The fact is that (double sigh!) he is both. The President elect and the incumbent, having taken possession of the charge. What he is not, is the President elect before taking possession.

        Venezuelan Constitution, and most Constitutions that allow reelection do not and cannot see a contradiction in being President and campaigning for reelection, and being elect President and President in functions.

        • extorres Says:

          “antes de tomar posesión” Therein lies the issue. My take, however, is that the statement refers to a president elect taking office, not to a president already in office. Just because the same name is in both variables does not change the intent of the article referring to the variable of president elect.

          Put it this way, if after Jan 10th it counts as taking possession for the new term, then we can’t say before Jan 10th that it doesn’t count as taking possession.

    • m_astera Says:

      Well said, extorres. What I was thinking about too. Chavez’ presidential term expires. Can he be both, the president elect and the president? Can he take the options of the president elect while still president?

      Ethically and legally, I would say no. I am (for some reason) a believer in law as having a sort of divine power. If you get the law right, dead right. This is the law, read it in the books in front of you, judge, read it out loud.

      Admittedly that works better with real law than with a mongrelized document like the Venezuelan constitution.

  16. moctavio Says:

    I disagree, Chavez has acknowledged that he will not be around. Time is against Chavismo in a Presidential election. It is to their advantage to have Chavez alive while Maduro runs, thus, I would expect they prefer a clean cut, fast scenario in which Maduro is the candidate and Chavez makes whatever appearances, calls, or whatever that he can. And if Capriles does badly on Sunday, the game is over for the opposition for six years.

    • TV Says:

      For three years, actually. A recall referendum is always an option, and Chavizmo will not be able to hide their incompetence for much longer. Plus there are legislative elections.

      If Venezuelan opposition holds it’s act together there is a chance yet of a return to democracy.

  17. Glenn Says:

    So anyone want to wager on when we get the proof of life photo? I reckon a photo will be provided and the supreme court will see that 10 Jan just blows on by, waiting on Chavez return. Sure it’s not legal but when has anything little detail like that stopped Chavez?

  18. moctavio Says:

    I don’t. If we don’t understand what our own Constitution says, then we dont even know if what they do is what is supposed to be done or not.

  19. Manuel Says:

    I must praise everyone for the optimism…but this conversation is rather pointless. I say pointless because WHEN have these idiots respected ANY sort of law before?? Whyyyy do we keep discussing what the law says?? The law, or its application, will be whatever this bunch wants it to be!!

    Have we not learned ANYTHING?? Sorry if I sound preachy but seriously…these conversations where we endlessly argue about what the law says or what the correct method is or how something is being done improperly or laws are being ignored is a complete waste of time. In the last years NOTHING has been done according to law, why would we assume that things would be now??

    • Kepler Says:

      Oh, I agree with you 100%. Besides, I am very surprised people a priori think every sign of utter grief or any statement about how bad/well Chávez is doing should be believed.
      I don’t believe Chavistas are all acting out, but we don’t know what exactly is true – even when their voices “break” or the like.

    • Manuel,

      Agree with you 1000000%. It does not matter if they apply the constitutional law right or wrong. They will do as they please, twisting the law at their convenience…

    • Alex Says:

      Manuel, you couldn’t be more correct. It will be whatever they decide it to be. If for example they want Mamaduro to finish the whole six years, then they’ll have Luisa Estela Morales to approve it -period- and the country will once again be screwed by the thugs that rule it.

      But to people like us, hope is the last and only resort, hope that the Chavistas will change their attitude and for once respect the constitution. The opposition is powerless besides its capacity to hope things will come out their way and if not, protest through the media.

  20. extorres Says:

    I have to disagree with the interpretation that the VP paragraph trumps all for several reasons:

    The main one is that if the spirit was for the VP to take over regardless of when in the term the absence ocurred, then there is no explanation for having made the first 4years versus last 2years split. It would be pointless.

    The second reason is that in constitutional law, historically, the order has trump priority. That is, articles near the beginning trump articles following; I would think this is similar to paragraph order.

    The third reason is the second paragraph regarding president elect. Clearly, the existence of this paragraph only makes sense for the time period between a candidate having been elected for presidence and that candidate’s taking over office. Any VP interpretation that supercedes this paragraph renders this paragraph pointless.

  21. Bruni Says:

    Honestly, I still cannot understand how anybody can consider article 233 “pretty clear”. It is not (an explained in English is even more confusing!).

    Miguel, I wish you had pasted the each paragraph right after the explanation.

  22. Dr. Faustus Says:

    If one looks at governments in Europe during the Middle Ages, one cannot help but notice that the succession rights to political power ‘always’ belonged to members of the family. Royal blood, if you will. It didn’t change when Napoleon came to power in the late 18th century. Facing banishment from government by the Allies, Napoleon annointed his own son as the new Emperor of France with the title ‘King of Rome.’ The kid was only 3 years old at the time. Across the pond Queen Victoria compelled to name her oldest son, Edward VI, to be King of England despite his being totally corrupt, a lecher, and a drunkard. Throughout human history, blood mattered when it came to government.

    Therefore, I have very little doubt that the person to watch in all of this drama taking place in Venezuela is,….Adan Chavez. I am completely convinced that, behind closed doors, Adan is planning his next move. He no doubt feels that he has a ‘right’ to the line of succession. Just watch.

  23. Kepler Says:

    Chávez’s absence won’t be declared permanent unless he is clearly dead.
    Imagine he is a shadow of what Castro Senior is now but still alive: then he will be declared “on temporary leave” for months…Maduro will be just vice president, then once protests get too strong, someone else will take over as vice president (not president) and Maduro will run for president.
    Sounds unconstitutional?
    And Luisa Estela In-Morales will tell us: “es peligroso meterse conmigo porque yo también soy como el espinito”.

  24. I have read many analysis of possible scenarios, all taking into account that Chavismo will follow the Constitution. But how many times have they just do whatever it pleases them? Why will they respect the Constitution when it might mean loosing power? I am pretty sure they will become radical and keep the power even my use of force.

  25. syd Says:

    The image you chose, Miguel, is priceless.

  26. notivenJavier Says:

    Miguel´s 233 is pretty clear. If Chavez does not make it by January 10th then the president of National Assembly takes over.

    If Chavez takes over on January 10th and then one of the Absolute -Permanent causes for the President´s dismissal is invoked, then the designated Vice President ( Maduro probably ) will preside until a new President is elected .

    For PSUV it´s important that Chave´z makes it to the 10th so Maduro as President can use all the powers that a President can use – cadenas for example.

  27. Noel Says:

    I think that a regime bent on radically transforming a country away from democracy will not relinquish power, no matter what the Constitution says.

    The question is what happens if in the absence of Chavez his forces become fractured and the country becomes even more divided.

    If one looks to history, the most successful solution has been a government of transition where the party in place finds some accommodation with the opposition and where some guarantees of impunity are offered where necessary.

  28. A. Shaw Says:

    In accordance with his “ethics,” the Devil maintains a keen interest in the demise of a person. Even though I went away, perhaps he will allow me to suggest that — this time with Chavez, he may be impetuous.

    Chavez isn’t “permanently unavailable” to serve as president, as 233 requires, because the NA has not authorized the supreme court to designate a medical board that will certify Chavez as “permanently disabled” to serve as president, if of course the board finds such a disability during its examination of Chavez. It may take time before NA moves on the supreme court’s authorization. There are five other grounds for permanent unavailability, but disability is the closest ground to the Chavez case. It’s close, but it’s not there yet.

    Venezuela is not Paraguay where the president can be dismissed after a two hour proceeding.

    The question is not whether this case is a 233 situation — it clearly isn’t. The question is whether this is a 234 or, more likely, a pre-234 situation.

    But the Devil perfers heat over light.

    • moctavio Says:

      you may think what you may think, this was an irresponsible and very dangerous operation, only performed because the Cubans decided to do it.

      It would be good if you read the posts, I clearly say at the bottom that the Minister of Information says Chavez may not be back for his new term.If he is not 233 applies.

      • A. Shaw Says:

        “I clearly say at the bottom that the Minister of Information says Chavez may not be back for his new term.If he is not 233 applies…” He says.


        Very Clearly, if Chavez isn’t “back for his new term,” then on Jan. 10 he “abandons his position,” as 233 says. Then, 233 applies. But a lot things may or may not happen in the future.

        Is Chavez “absent” now, as some incorrectly say? There is a kind of “absence” in both 233 and 234 and another kind of “absence” in 235. They shouldn’t be confused.

        Is it what may happen in the future or what is happening in the present that defines the present situation? Yes, you may know what will happen in the future — say, for example, on Jan. 10 — but what is the situation right now? You say “233 applies.” It clearly doesn’t. Not yet.

        Something else applies now or perhaps nothing applies now if Chavez demonstrates before Jan.10 that he can still “serve,” as 234 and 233 say, while he recovers in Cuba.

        • If Chavez is not sworn in, 233 applies, period.

          He has to be sworn in for the others to apply, according to 231, in front of the National Assembly, the Constitution says so. If he is not the President, there is no VP, because he has not named one and he can’t name one. Thus, 233 applies. I gave all scenarios, so I dont know what you are talking about. If he gets sworn in and resigns, then Maduro is President. Its all in 233.

          I deal with realities and discuss in my blog whatever I feel like, it is not a matter of ethics, this is happening, whether you like it or not. And given the stupid Cuban Doctors, his demise could be a reality, as suggested by Minister Villegas. Had he used, good, competent, Venezuelan Doctors, I would bet he would be in much better shape today, but we can’t go back in time.

          • Isa Says:

            Sure sounds like Chavez is in a serious conditions Shaw, you seem to be barking at the tree of your own personal wishes and desires, because according to Barclays Villegas said:

            President is a human being. He underwent a tough, complex, delicate
            surgery. And now he is also in a hard, complex and delicate
            post-operative [recovery]… Let us hope that, with the love of millions,
            the Commander will recover soon and come to take command before January
            10. Otherwise, our people must be prepared to understand. It would be
            irresponsible to hide the sensitivity of the current time and the days

            So, maybe you should revise your ethics, given the needles attack on Miguel because of your own passions.

      • HalfEmpty Says:

        What is the damn operation? Does anyone know? A nerve cut perhaps?

        • moctavio Says:

          Reportedly cleaning up the tumor, removing two vertebrae and putting in two screws in their place, or metallic parts.

          • J Jaramillo Says:

            If so, this could narrow things down to a point where we could begin to back into a possible diagnosis. Here is an interesting result of a “cancer tumor pelvis vertebrectomy” Google-search.


            Any oncologists out there?

          • syd Says:

            Thank you, JJ. There are a number of variables that we don’t know, in the case of Chávez. Nor do we know if the L5-specific surgery applies in his case. Grosso modo, it seems that a vertebrectomy to lumbar 5, with zero intraoperative complications, yields 12-36 months of life expectancy among those with metastatic tumors.

    • Wanley Says:

      It is whatever the Chavez or the cubans need it to be.

      • megaescualidus Says:

        The cuban doctors with all their genius and the miracles of the Cuban Medicine are taking a vertebrae from Chavez, a little bit of brains from Fidel, and with that concocting a Super Commander (“el super comandante”) that will keep the Cuban Revolution going for many more years… Mas nada caballero!!! (se me vino un flash back de “la mosca”, la de Jeff Goldblum, no la original en blanco y negro).

    • LD Says:

      Ernesto Villegas Poljak

      El Presidente es un ser humano. Fue sometido a una operación dura, compleja, delicada. Y ahora está en un postoperatorio que también es duro, complejo y delicado.

      Nuestro pueblo debe asimilarlo como cuando tenemos un padre enfermo, en una situación delicada después de cuatro intervenciones quirúrgicas en año y medio.

      Confiemos en que, con el amor de millones, el Comandante se repondrá pronto y vendrá a tomar el mando antes del 10 de enero. De no ser así, nuestro pueblo deberá estar preparado para entenderlo. Lo irresponsable sería ocultar lo delicado del momento actual y de los días por venir.

  29. Beatriz López Says:

    All I can say is that it’s bloody confusing. Probably on purpose. Is he recovering — someone hinted that Maduro was sporting a very LOOONG face on tv.

  30. megaescualidus Says:

    I really hope Chavez is not back, period! After the operation may he convalesce in his beloved Cuba.

  31. Wanley Says:

    Unfortunately those are “leguleyerias”. At the end, the one that has the most power at that moment over the supreme court will get his interpretation. The president os the Supreme Court once said that laws cannot be interpreted literally, but taking into account “other factors”.

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