It has been six weeks since the opposition won the Parliamentary election and many things have happened. But I do not really want to give you a blow by blow analysis of what happens or is happening in the country, but rather try to see and understand the overall picture. Thus, I did not report on the details of Maduro’s speech to the Assembly or many other topics which some may think require some commentary.
But I think is more important to report on the overall picture of the country six weeks after the elections. And what I can say is that there has certainly been some progress, some steps forward, but the whole picture is still lacking, as the country seems to be drifting into a crisis, with probably more steps forwards than backwards, but too much uncertainty still present in the country.
To begin with, I don’t think either side has understood well the message the voters sent in Dec. 6th. On the one hand, the Maduro administration has not understood that the vote against it represents a vote against the consequence of its badly mismanaged economic policies. Despite this, it continues on a path to radicalize the country, blame the economic war, all of which will bring little economic benefit, precisely the only thing the voters wanted him to pay attention to.
The opposition, on the other hand, seems to be understanding its victory as a mandate to get rid of Maduro, which is probably why most opposition voters cast their vote for. But as I have discussed previously, The in between, both the Ni-Ni’s (who don’t belong to either side) and the pro-Chavista voters, were casting a vote to punish Chavismo, but not necessarily because the opposition electrifies them and wants them to run the country. So far, the opposition has said little in how it intends to deal with Economic problems. True, it is little that the Assembly can do on economic matters, but this does not mean that it can not make proposals or counter-proposals, of which it has done little on these matters. Perhaps the only exception is the Bill to give ownership to the Mision Vivienda homes, which was repudiated by Chavismo.
Perhaps the most positive thing to has happened is that there has been acceptance of the victory by the opposition. Even if this has been a reluctant acceptance or not, it is there, whether thanks to the military or not. The opposition found the need for security the first day the Deputies were sworn in at the Assembly, but the routine of at least bi-weekly sessions is such, that the last time the Assembly met in a regular session, there were no significant security forces outside the Assembly building. (The same inside, where reporters and public can now go in without much hassle)
This represents some semblance of the return of normal democratic life to the country, a huge advancement.
And this return to normalcy is also present in an increased access to the media by the opposition. Even if VTV did not want to show Ramus Allup (A negative nomination on which I have opined sufficiently), it had no other recourse but to show his speech right after Maduro’s speech. By now, some of the old/new media, such as Globovision, has begun to hedge it bets, increasing its coverage of the opposition.
More democracy can only be good.
I think it was a negative for the opposition to go back on the swearing in of the three questioned Amazonas Deputies. It should not have done so, if it was not willing to go Constitutional-conflict on the terrible decision by the Electoral Hall of the Court. Given the 45 thousand-plus decisions in a row by the Court in the last 15 years, it should not have expected anything else.
While it was a puzzle why Amazonas was picked, given how close elections were there, the truth may have been revealed this week, when it was noted that some Chavista Deputies have requested the Supreme Court interpret whether the indigenous representatives to the Assembly should be elected by the population of those States at large or only the indigenous population. Curiously, the opposition had raised this issue in the past , only to be denied, even when Chavismo dominated that vote. Chavismo probably thinks that it can win one of the three Assembly members with this trick and deny the 2/# majority to the opposition, but I doubt it.
Unfortunately Maduro did not understand the message about the economy and seems to still be clueless at this time. Since Dec. 6th. oil has dropped by about US$ 8 per barrel (somewhat less for Venezuela’s oil basket) but the Venezuelan President did not mention any concrete measures in his State of the Union address and his “Economic Emergency” Bill” only include the possibility of more expropriations, despite the dismal failure by Chavismo with them over the last 16 years. He did say gasoline prices should be increased, a decision which is solely in his hands. He should talk less and do something.
And with oil under $30 per barrel (less than US$ 23 for the Venezuelan basket) this means that foreign currency revenues for the country will be under 50% of what they were during 2015. And as Venezuelans line up for food, medicines and even to have their deodorant refilled, one has to ponder how awful things will get in the upcoming months…