Chavismo Takes The Path Of Maximum Illegallity In Venezuela

January 8, 2013


Chavismo and the Venezuelan National Assembly have today decided to follow the path of maximum illegality when they announced that Hugo Chávez will not show up on Thursday and will be sworn in a some time in the future by the Venezuela Supreme Court. At the same time, the National Assembly approved that President Chávez can take an unlimited leave of absence, something that it is unconstitutional and illegal.

The whole show is a bizarre and unnecessary twist to the problem of what to do with Chávez’ inability to be sworn in due to his illness, as this is simply a break with the laws and the Constitution that is likely to have repercussions beyond what Chavismo apparently believes.

The whole sequence of events is bizarre to say the least:

-It all starts by a letter by Vice-President Maduro, the person with the largest conflict of interest in all this, as his tenure as Vice-President clearly ends on Jan. 10th. with Chávez’ six year term. Moreover, there is not even the pretense of having Chávez sign the letter. If Chávez is doing better and will be able to be sworn in sometime soon, why didn’t he even sign the letter? Maduro clearly has no legal right to make this request for the Venezuelan President.

-As if this was not enough the National Assembly approves a spurious resolution, giving Chávez an unlimited leave and without even following what the law requires for a President, which is a medical committee giving an opinion and the Assembly approving the recommendation of such a committee. Only the Supreme Court could approve that you can extend to Art. 233 of the Constitution a President-elect, but under no circumstance could the Court or the Assembly grant Chávez an unlimited leave.

-In the case of a temporal absence, the Vice-President would become President, but since Chávez has not been sworn in, it is absolutely unconstitutional for current Vice-President Nicolás Maduro to extend his Vice-Presidency into the next term. Since Chávez has not been sworn in yet, and it Maduro says he will not be for a while, then the only legal solution is for the President of the National Assembly to become President until the situation is resolved with the approval of the Venezuelan Supreme Court (Which may still happen before Jan. 10th.)

What is scary about this whole situation is that if it does extend into Jan. 10th. Chavismo (And not Chávez! We do not know his opinion!) will be taking the country on a path of piling up one illegality on top of the other. This could take years to unravel, as someone has to run the country, but all decisions after Jan. 10th. will lack any legality and could be challenged some day. This could have dire consequences for the stability of the country medium and long term. Moreover, once someone decides to bypass the Constitution, all sorts of demons are unleashed among all of those aspiring for power.

I wonder if those demons are what is already causing these bizarre situation.

The question remains why this path has been chosen. Either Chavismo does not want or does not trust Diosdado Cabello as President or Chavismo (and the Cubans) have decided to turn the country into a Dictatorship, the Constitution be damned. The question is in the former case is why would Diosdado follow Maduro on this?

And as one analyst asked me yesterday: Will these guys even hold elections if Chávez dies?

You have to start wondering…

For the last few days, I have believed that a Constitutional crisis would be avoided when push came to shove. Right now, I can only sit here and hope that the Supreme Court will say something tomorrow, before Venezuela is taken into an unknown path packed with instability.

After Jan. 10th. anyone that sides with Chavismo and this foolishness will be on the side of illegality and and a coup. Remarkably, not one person on the Chavismo side has yet raised a voice of concern.

They have less than two days to speak up or side with those breaking with Venezuela’s Constitution.

60 Responses to “Chavismo Takes The Path Of Maximum Illegallity In Venezuela”

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  2. Glenn Says:

    Bloomberg quites “Morela Tirado, a 53-year-old housewife, said such shortages are only a small inconvenience and have not undermined her support for the Chavez government. So you switch meat for chicken, pasta for rice, what’s the big deal? Nobody is going hungry,” said Tirado. “It’s not that there’s no food, you just don’t always get what you want.”

    As long as you have this attitude, you will have Chavismo.

  3. Gordo Says:

    One possible scinario to explain all this: The economy is at the brink of massive hunger, and meanwhile Chavez is out of the picture, so the Chavismo leadership calls for supporters to hit the streets on the 10th! Capriles and the opposition also hit the streets. Chavismo triggers a shutdown of commerce, calls in the military, and blame the opposition for the hunger… and then the REVOLUTION SAVES THE DAY!

    • M Rubio Says:

      To an extent gordo, that’s been happening for quite some time, just little by little. Most government policies make it just about impossible for a competent businessman to run a business in Venezuela.

      If one is dependent on imported good (most businesses are since not much is made in Venezuela) then he’s got to come up with the dollars to buy the products he needs to survive. No one outside of Venezuela wants bolivares. Well, we know how easy it is to get dollars in Venezuela. So, the business shrinks.

      If the business is producing chickens, beef, pork, eggs, milk, etc, the prices are controlled at levels where one can’t possibly turn a profit while labor, machinery, and feed costs climb constantly. Of course, the same producers have to compete with government-aided Mercals which sell chickens, beef, pork, eggs, milk (imported from other countries) at greatly reduced prices…, the business shrinks.

      Eventually the Chavistas step in and say, “see, private enterprise doesn’t work”, or “see, private enterprise is speculating and hoarding their products to force prices higher, we need the government to provide and manage these services”.

      There’s a witchhunt on right now by the government looking for warehouses full of corn meal, sugar, etc. Headline news when a storage facility is discovered full of such merchandise…..but no mention of the fact many warehouses are overloaded because so many transporters shut down from 15 Dec to 15 Jan. Nor do they elaborate if that particular facility is normally stocked as such, as opposed to someone being guilty of horading/speculating.

      And the Chavistas eat it all up, both literally and figuratively.

      Try to find coffee, sugar, flour, baked bread, and corn meal right now either in the cities or in the pueblos. It’s almost impossible.

  4. Alex (the other) Says:

    Given Venezuelans’ liniency to being screwed by this government and act as if nothing’s happening by leading a happy happy life this is what will certainly happen the next few years:

    1. Jan 10: nothing will occur. Maybe a fierce discussion in the Asamblea Nacional, some constitutions thrown at opposition congressmen. No temporary absence declared.
    2. 90 days from then: Chavez is still in Cuba getting better.
    3. 180 days from then: Still in Habana, just wait a little bit more for the comandante to be back.
    4. After that: the comandante is still acting in his duties as president but convalescing in Cuba. He will soon be rid of any illness.
    5. 2019: elections will be hosted. Hugo Chavez, whom we haven´t seen nor heard of in seven years will be the candidate for the PSUV. His campaign will be a virtual one. Nico and Diosdado will be named delegates to carry out the campaign for him, spreading his message of revolution throughout the country. 55% Venezuelans will vote in favor of the comandante.

    And thus, the hegemony of Hugo Chavez will continue until somebody decides not to put up with it anymore if that will ever happen.

  5. megaescualidus Says:

    Economic meltdown may (and just may) be the trigger for people to start marching again.

    Is Venezuela now entering a phase of total chaos? Or will it still be “business as usual”?

  6. deananash Says:

    Declare a march MOURNING his passing….and show up. 500,000 people walking down the street…it’ll force their hand.

    • Noel Says:

      Actually, what the current crisis seems to show is that the opposition cannot mobilize millions of people to march and protest in defense of their rights. As long as this is the case, nothing good will happen. This is in contrast with Egypt for example.

      I cant think anybody in his right mind wishes for a mass armed revolution, but a massive protest has worked historically and probably would again.

  7. Virginia Says:

    The Venezuelan people should DEMAND; “PROOF OF LIFE”…
    All we hear are possibles, hypotheticals, and I’ sure, lies. The peole should rise up and demand proof that Chavez is indeed still alive.

  8. Kepler Says:

    María Gabriela Chávez doesn’t tweet since 5 January.

    • syd Says:

      suspect her BB was confiscated in an arrangement with the Cubans to ensure the CIMEQ becomes more hermetic. That is, after the multiple tweets from Dr. Marquina were in a vague way confirmed by Villegas.

  9. M Rubio Says:

    The more I learn about what the Constitution says and doesn’t say, the more convinced I am that there are so many holes in the document in respect to this particular issue, that the Chavistas in Caracas can make up just about any excuse they wish at this point for not swearing in Chavez, and pull it off with the majority of the public and the country’s allies in the region.

    To me, the real test will come when they must finally announce that Chavez is dead.

    I think the Constitution is quite clear there: President dies in first 4 years of his term, Pres of AN takes over and calls elections within 30 days; President dies in last 2 years of his term, VP takes over and serves out term, new election held on schedule.

    As I stated earlier, based on D. Cabello’s demeanor, I suspect Chavez is very near death. I say that because I’m convinced that Cabello, with a clear constitutional path to the presidency, will jump at the chance to assume power. I also think that it’s at that point things will get REALLY interesting. I just don’t see Cabello playing softball with Maduro once Chavez is no longer in the picture.

  10. concerned Says:

    Chavez is either dead or being kept alive on machines. Either way, the whole election campain was a sham with Chavez promising his following that he was cancer free. That is reason enough to move on with “Plan B”.

    There should be new elections held, but the CNE will only report results that they are told to by the criminals currently in power. Don’t count on any immediate future election to decide a new president by democratic means. That would bring you to “Plan C”, which the opposition has not shown that they have the will, or means to implement.

    There are going to have to be some hard decisions made in 2013 about Venezuela’s future, but as long as the “show” goes on the country will continue to decay just like chavez’s body. Investment will be nil, inflation will continue through the roof, and the few items that you can still find in the supermarkets will dry up or become too expensive even for the opportunistas that feed off of the corruption and innefficiencies of this government.

    Don’t turn that dial, the “show” continues to entertain. This could trump the much anticipated 2nd half season of AMC’s Walking Dead…pun intended.

  11. Alejandro Says:

    Although grave and a shambles, this is more emotional and erratic behaviour that anything else. Although we are aware what is ahead of us, unfortunately politicians act upon the event or the news. Otherwise they wouldn’t be politicians.

    I’ve already discounted the fact that it’s constituitional or not, although entertaining and dramatic it’s an issue well used by all poltiticians to have a go at eachother and avoid the real issues. What is certain is that elections are coming.

    The MUD needs to change, those in charge at the moment must take responsibiltiy for the recent electoral debacle, and act upon the coming economic crisis. If the MUD wants to remain relevant and act as a coalition it must incorporate to its leadership the new generation so they stay relevant, such as Pablo Perez for example who is idle at the moment. He could be a good replacement for Aveledo.

    I do believe that due to incompetence and due to the economic cycle Venezuela is due some severe adjustment. And this will bring opportunities.

  12. …can somebody ask the TSJ to interpret the Constitution 1999?

  13. George Says:

    …piling up one illegality on the other? sounds like Canada! Time erases all even Court jurisprudence and In-Constitutionality’s!
    Canada has no demos[demos]! All that matter are the results not the methods! And so far so good , they say!

  14. gordo Says:

    Going beyond the 10th could mean any number of things:
    1. Faction power struggle, i.e. Cubans vs. Military Drug lords.
    2. Loyalty to the Comandante or the perhaps the revolution has no cohesion without him.
    3. “Musical chairs”, i.e. nobody wants to be in the seat of power when the economy melts down.
    4. They think they might lose the election to Capriles
    5. Hugo Chavez has a good chance of recovery
    6. Buying time to build consenses for a plan

    • TV Says:

      Number 5. requires two miracles – one that his cancer is now cured, the other that he recovers well enough to be able to rule within a year or so. Given that we haven’t seen any pictures of him it’s reasonable to assume he’s in coma. Every day spent in coma means up to an extra week of recovery … that would normally easily take a few months if there hadn’t been any problems. If his respiratory failure was severe, it could be his brain is already damaged beyond repair.

    • syd Says:

      I find it impossible to believe that Chávez’ cancer is cured, what with metastasis affecting several areas, and with cancerous cells multiplying every 17 days. Or so I understand it (Marquina et al).

  15. George Says:

    Nos podemos limpiar “el culo” con La Constituci’on de 1999…!
    Manda es el pueblo con la AN y el TSJ…!

  16. The Cat Says:

    Bill S, why do you even bring this up? What a ridiculous, as well as STUPID, thing to say. You’re a MORON!! Why don’t you move to, oh, say, VENEZUELA? Seriously: “The US government will shut down, sometime in March, so the debt payments can still be made with tax revenues coming in”?
    No, it won’t. Really. If you’re not going to move to Venezuela, then at least move to Europe. Then you might have something to complain about.

    • Alex Says:

      Maybe Bill S needs to be reminded the Mayan prophecy of the end of the world did actually happen. Well, it did for a select world, the world of the ultra right wing, tea party and related life forms.

      Now back to our regular program.

  17. megaescualidus Says:

    So, officially, from now on who will the interim president be, Maduro? And so you wonder how passive Venezuelans have become if things keep going as usual and people simply don’t start protesting. If no one protests this will put in evidence that Venezuelans have finally become used to the idea of Venezuela being a puppet of Cuba. Could things be any sadder? The meaning to the phrase “vende patria” has reached another height to this time unknown to me. If this turns out this to be the case you wonder, from now on, anything illegal is fair game: forget about going to elections in 30 days, etc., etc.

    I never thought Godgiven would be willing to go along with this scenario while at best being the # 2 guy. I may have misjudged him. Probably he’s too comfortable not fully calling the shots while still being as close to the top as he can be without being the top guy, which still would allow him to be plugged in any possible dirty business.

  18. m_astera Says:

    Hmmm. Wonder what’s going on with the 80% of so of the government’s reserves that are in the form of gold bars?

    • Roy Says:


    • megaescualidus Says:

      They’ve most probably been out of the country for a few months, to be found now in some Swiss bank, or in the Cayman Islands, or the like. I’m sure there’s nothing left (why would they have been “repatriated” to begin with?).

  19. Rambo Says:

    Venezolanos Rambonos: Venezuela is officially now a Cuban satellite. Cubans are calling all the shots. Maduro and you are their pawns. This simply cannot continue. It won’t if you put a stop to it.
    I have noticed that the Syrians and Libyans have been able to take care of business. Chavismo is not democratic in anyway. They will remain in power no matter what you do to vote them out. They ain’t goin’ anywhere! But they do understand force. Do not rely on the US. The US will not help you.

    • Mr. Imperialist Says:

      Yes, our track record in S. America is, shall we say, not good. And, would you really want our “help,” anyway? Don’t the Chavista Burros always say, “You Bourgeois Oppos are just the long-arm of Tio Samuel!” Sadly, if you showed most Americans a map of S. America and asked them where Venezuela is, here is what 98% would say: How am I supposed to know where Fernando Valenzuela lives?(
      The last thing the Obama administration wants/needs is to meddle in the affairs of Cuba’s little brother. There are enough minefields right here at home.
      Whoever said ‘may you live in interesting times,’ yeah, I don’t think that guy was a Venezuelan citizen….

  20. Morpheous Says:

    In the middle of all this power struggle, Chavez is quickly being forgotten. Now he is going out exactly as he wouldn’t have liked, a far cry from the blaze of heroic socialist glory he might have preferred. Today, more than ever, as Diego Arria has been saying since a long time ago, Venezuela is under the continued 4-F coup. Who can now denied it? Was there been a dictatorship that falls by elections?

  21. divad Says:

    Chavez has ARDS. adult Respiratory distress syndrome, as a complication from surgery. His lungs are failing and a recuperation could take one to two months. He still has cancer and his body will deteriorate greatly with the lack of activity. We still dont have an official statement on what the fourth operation was about. Marquina says it was vertebral operation and Bocaranda a Pelvic one. Either way it was an operation to assist him with walking, since he was in a lot of pain and could not walk, his hip were caving into the pelvis from metastasis or the spine vertebrae were colapsing. In any way, he will never be walking again, at least not normally. he can probably survive 2 to 4 months. That is the time that the chavistas are looking at. The opposition should plan its counter attack now. Many other complications may arise.

  22. Javier Says:

    When Cabello & Co at the Assembly renewed Chavez permission and that he could swear in when ready, they admit that a new presidential period is beginning without Chavez present. Maduro can not be VP because the period ended on Jan 10th Only a president can name the new VP and that temp-President is Cabello, as head of the Assembly until Chavez is sworn in

  23. deananash Says:

    Chavez is DEAD. His body may be kept alive, but he is gone. Time for VERY LOUD declarations to this effect…..perhaps by calling for a week of mourning. What do you have to lose?

  24. Noel Says:

    Unfortunately, the process is following its own logic. As I said before, a regime bent on replacing democracy with tyranny is not going to accept any popular vote that would risk removing it from power.

    Furthermore, the rest of Latin America seems to acquiesce, some because of shared ideology (Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Brazil), other because of security concerns (Colombia) and others because they don’t seem to have a policy (US). So the latest move by the Chavismo is a “dare” to those who don’t agree: what are you going to do about it?

    I hope that the US and Brazil can come to their senses and realize that it is in their own interest not to have Venezuela run by thugs and sinking into chaos and desolation, but just like in the days of Solidarity in Poland, the impetus to right the wrongs will have to come from within.

    • vdpsc Says:

      I think Rubio is right. I also don’t believe Venezuela will get another dime from anyone while this continues. This may accelerate the economic decline. I don’t believe the US will do much. Venezuela is not really a major issue of discussion for Joe six pack.

  25. Bill S. Says:

    Wow! One of my predictions actually came true.They will go over there to swear him in. Maybe, but they might need to do some computer photo shop work as ‘proof’ that they actually did more than take a plane ride to Cuba.
    So, emboldened, I will do another one. Hopefully, this one will be wrong.
    The US government will shut down, sometime in March, so the debt payments can still be made with tax revenues coming in. It is going to get crazy up here. Probably not as crazy as Venezuela, but you never know. A constitutional crisis if Obama invokes the 14th Amendment will be fun to watch. Will the Catholic Chief Justice, John Roberts, side with Obama again? He is brilliant enough to go whichever way he likes, and have it seem perfectly rational. Or will Obama mint a trillion dollar platinum coin?
    Can anything be crazier than AIG threatening to sue the US government after getting a $185,000,000,000 bailout? Just watch out Congress. Yes it can.

  26. Is Hugo alive?

    I think so, but I can’t swear he is.

  27. M Rubio Says:

    I have a theory about Diosdado Cabello’s recent moves.

    Originally I thought he’d be outspoken and demand to take over on the 10th of January as the Constitution calls for. However, doing so would obviously upset many in Chavez’s inner circle who aren’t ready to change the status quo and would cause lots of internal conflict.

    Now I’m thinking that Diosdado has been so supportative of Maduro because he knows that Chavez is extremely ill and doesn’t have long to live. Once he dies, the Constitution is clear…..Diosdado becomes president….and would become president without having to fend off protests from fellow Chavistas that he wasn’t with the program.

    Try to claim power on the 10th and have an internal fight. Or wait a week, two, or three, and assume power with the full force of the Constitution behind you.

  28. Paal Says:

    If we look at this from a wider perspective, this way of acting fits completely with chavismo’s understanding of the republic: the maximum law is Hugo’s words and when in doubt about his position, delay any decision, since Chavez IS the state and the nation and the people.

  29. I think this will not be sustainable unless you start jailing people right and left.

  30. Alex Says:

    It’s what I call the Martha Stewart’s effect Miguel. My mother in law, who I love very much by the way, is very conservative, very Republican and very old fashioned. It would take a minor violation in her mind of either the law or moral principles to either be blacklisted by her, probably for ever. Oh, but as a Connecticut Yankee, she loooooves Martha Stewart. But when I reminded her Ms. Stewart is an ex-con (is it true o not?), oh boy, let’s pit it mildly, she didn’t like it. So, if no other country cares about that circus in Venezuela, and I mean either approves (like Brazil) or say nothing at all (the EU), we are witnessing the Martha Stewart’s effect. And life goes on like it has happened for the last 14 years.

  31. M Rubio Says:

    “And as one analyst asked me yesterday: Will these guys even hold elections if Chávez dies?”

    I asked the above question in your story below. if in a month or so it’s no longer possible to keep saying that Chavez is recovering and finally admit that he has died, how does anyone know if they’ll even bother with elections….afterall, the people spoke on 7 Oct….they want Chavez…..oh, no, now they wanted Chavismo so let the administration continue as is so not to avert the will of the people…blah blah blah.

    I see a dictator in Venezuela’s future.

  32. I dont know Alex, if they go beyond Jan. 10 like this, this could get very complicated everywhere. To start, nobody will buy a new bond issued under an illegal Government.

  33. Alex Says:

    Yes, everything stated above follows the rule of the law. Unfortunately, the majority either doesn’t care because of ideology or way too ignorant to understand. The rest of the world? Too infatuated with the revolution otherwise they’d be rising their voices. Just compare Brazil’s reaction when Honduras removed Zelaya in mid 2009 and appointed Micheletti president. But now even Rousseff goes along with the clowns.

  34. captainccs Says:

    Why am I not surprised?

  35. I have been saying lighten up for two weeks. Why not lighten up a lot?

  36. Cpc Says:

    Miguel, is it tiime to sell your beloved Venezuela and PDVSA bonds?

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