Reflections on The Maduro Doctrine

Man, I'd like to grab article 231 by the...
Trying to squeeze some sense out of this guy’s…jurisprudence.

Este post aparece en español en ProDaVinci.

Kudos to vice-president Nicolás Maduro for his epoch-making contribution to Bolivarian Constitutional Doctrine in remarks on the Constitution’s Article 231 – you know, the one that specifies that the president-elect becomes the president by swearing an oath of office on January 10th of the year following his election.

For Maduro, Art. 231 is “a formality”like a toast on New Year’s Eve. Omitting a New Year’s toast doesn’t prevent the year from ticking over, does it? Checkmate.

Now, it’s probably because I’m not a lawyer, but I have some difficulty with this. I’ve read the constitution carefully, and I just can’t seem to find the article that explains which of the other articles in the Constitution are mere formalities and which ones do actually mean the same thing as what’s written down in them.  

At first, I thought there must have been some mistake. An omission, maybe, or a misprint in my copy of the constitution, because if some of the articles are binding while others aren’t really but you don’t tell us which ones are which, well…the scope for confusion would seem to be very wide indeed.

On further reflection, though, I suspect a higher order juridical principle is at play here. Call it the Maduro Doctrine: constitutional norms mean what they say, unless that’s inconvenient for the government, in which case they’re just a formality.

Properly understood, the Maduro Doctrine is the key to understanding the constitutional order of the last 14 years: it clears up a whole range of constitutional puzzles that can’t be solved with a more literal, bourgeois reading.

Take Article 314. You know, the one that establishes that “no public expenditure of any type shall be made that has not been foreseen in the Budget Law.” That one’s been stuck in my throat like a mis-swallowed fishbone for years now, since it sure does seem like the government spends literally tens of billions of dollars off budget, with no oversight and no parliamentary authorization.

But now I’m starting to think again: maybe Article 314 just one of those formalities. When you think about it, authorizing public expenditure is a lot like a presidential swearing-in: you do it when you get around to it. I look forward to the Omnibus Budget Bill of 2023, which I guess will retroactively appropriate the tens of billions of dollars Fonden spent in 2005-2022.

Article 115 is another one that doesn’t quite make sense until you fully grasp the Maduro Doctrine. Art. 115 seems to say that private property is a right, and that it can only be taken away from you by a court, on grounds of public utility or social interest, and then only after all appeals have been exhausted (sentencia firme) and after you’ve been compensated.

It’s confusing, because the article is silent on ranting extemporaneously live on TV as an alternative means to lawful expropriation, so I’d long harboured dark suspicions that they were just randomly trampling it. But now I get it! Article 115 is just a formality. El orden de los factores no altera el producto: eventually the courts will come around and hand down those sentencias firmes, y’know, when they’re feeling better.

The Maduro Doctrine probably helps explain the longstanding puzzle over Article 167, paragraph 4 as well. See, we all thought they were plain old rubbing our noses in it by refusing to credit Situado Consitutional (constitutional transfers) monies to opposition state governors, a policy that probably helped sink the re-election chances of several of them last month. We thought it was a cynical ploy to stack the deck in favor of their own candidates, constitutional norms be damned.

Not at all! Now we can see that Article 167 paragraph 4 is just a formality…what the constitution says is that the central government may manipulate territorial transfers for political advantage as it sees fit. OK, granted, that’s not what it actually says, but those versed in Madurean hermeneutics can tell that’s what it means to say.

Then I flip through to Article 279, the one that specifies how oversight officials such as the Comptroller General – the key anti-corruption officer in the constitution – are meant to be elected by a two-thirds majority of the Nationall Assembly on the advice of an apolitical committee of civil society representatives.

Last I checked, the Comptroller General died in June 2011, and no steps have been taken to name a replacement in accordance to the constitution, with his second-in-command taking over as a permanent-interim replacement. (Charmingly, her official bio on the Consejo Moral Republicano website “forgets” to mention that she’s merely “encargada”).

For the longest time I thought maybe you all were just plain thumbing your nose at Article 279, but now I get it: Article 279 is a formality – in fact, under the Maduro Doctrine, the national government gets to pick whomever it wants to be its anti-corruption investigator by decree.

See, that makes much more sense now.

To tell you the truth, I’m having trouble finding any articles that aren’t covered by the Maduro Doctrine.

Take Article 272, the one that says “the State shall guarantee a prison system that ensures the rehabilitation of inmates and the respect of his or her human rights. For that purpose, penitentiary establishments shall include spaces for work, study, sport, and recreation, under the stewardship of penal system professionals with university credentials” rather than, you know, prison gang leaders who hold motorcross races, knife fights and open-air drug bazaars on the premises. But right! Formality! See, I’m getting the hang of this…

Folks, the Maduro Doctrine da para todo. Once you go down the rabbit hole of Pick-and-Mix Constitutionalism, it’s pretty much the same thing as not having a Constitution at all:

But maybe I’m being unfair. Maybe I’m too far into the weeds. Maybe the properly binding articles are up near the beginning of the document.

Let’s see, Article 6, “the government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela…is and always shall be democratic, participative, elective, decentralized, alternating, responsible, pluralist and with revocable mandates”. Decentralized? Alternating? Responsible?! Pluralist?! Formality! Formality! Formality! Formality!

Dang, maybe I need to go right up to the top: “Article 1, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is irrevocably free and independent…its irrenounceable rights are independence, freedom, sovereignty…”

Oh…oh dearwe’re in more trouble than I thought.

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  1. No quiero hechar mas leña al fuego, but, when Chavez lost the referendum in 2007, wasn’t he legally barred from making another one in that same presidential term, meaning, he would have to leave once his presidential term was expired, but he then pushed the enmienda through 2 years later. Aint that illegal? Or is just another formality?

  2. And here i was thinking that Chavez was abusing the law in every conceivable way to secure his stay in power, but it turns out it was formality all along! It feels like a M Night Shyamalan movie! Did Shyamaln himself played a minor role as some PSUV delegate with an Indian last name?

  3. This is what I meant about the abdication of the “reformist” left in Venezuela.

    True democracy (for that matter, true monarchy or any other functioning civil order) requires general adherence to procedures for assigning power and deciding and executing policies. That is, everyone, regardless of who they want to hold power or what policies they want executed, must adhere to the procedures. Otherwise, all disputes are resolved by violence.

    In a functioning civil order, offenses against these procedures are the worst crime, and the exclusion and punishment of such offenders should take precedence over any consideration of policy or personality. But in Venezuela, a large faction has placed its allegiance to a particular personality (and to his faction and policies) above all else.

    The result is that the solemn requirements of the nation’s highest law are routinely ignored.

    • Does true democracy also include a democratic economy, where the production and resources of the country are decided and allocated according to popular will?

      Or does your true democracy exclude this most important aspect altogether, putting all that in private hands and limiting democracy to the political sphere (where it seems you prefer representative to participatory).

      • Once again, a troll avoids the post at hand. Too much of a hot potato to be discussing adherence to a constitution, a little blue book, that was always a sham.

        As for your comments, yoyo, where to begin deconstructing your cult’s brainwashing and the deluded belief that there exists participatory *democracy*.

        Hint: if there were a participatory democracy, the current government in office wouldn’t have shown itself to be afraid of debate with an opposition representing millions of the population. There would be healthy participation from ALL segments of the Vz population.

        Wake up, dearie, and analyze, as an objective social scientist, the vocabulary vs. the reality.

        • “Where the production and resources of the country are decided and allocated by popular(sic) will’–Read up on the Soviet Union.

      • I’m venezuelan.
        I’m part of the population.
        I don’t have a say in where the production and resources are allocated.
        And when I say, nobody listens nor care.

      • What economic forms are chosen is a matter of policy. The question is how such policy questions are decided. Right now, in Venezuela, such questions are decided by President Chavez and his subordinates as representatives of the people.

        It appears that you dislike this form of economic organization, and would prefer all economic decisions to be made with the participation of the whole people. So, whenever Fonden considers an investment, or PDVSA considers drilling some new wells, there should be a poll of all Venezuelans to decide. Or when Polar decides how much beer to brew in the next month, or any farmer anywhere in the country gets ready to plant crops, or a clothing store in Maracaibo has to order men’s socks. The people must decide, not some representative of the people. Right?

        OK. having disposed of that fantasy, how do the people of a country choose its representatives? By democratic procedures? All well and good, but the procedures must be respected.

        In 1854, settlers in the Kansas Territory of the United States voted on a territorial legislature which would have the power to allow or prohibit slavery. Several thousand “Border Ruffians” from the neighboring slave state of Missouri rode into Kansas, took over the polling places at gunpoint, and issued fraudulent returns electing a pro-slavery assembly.

        That was an extreme case. But there are lesser abuses of the procedure which are nonetheless destructive of the principals of democratic civil order. One is the use of state resources to assist the electioneering of the particular faction which currently controls the state. Another is the use of state authority to suppress some faction’s efforts to communicate with the voters.

        If such practices are tolerated, then the electoral process degenerates into a game of “Dealer wins, and winner deals.” The faction in power acquires all power, and being unaccountable soon begins to rule for its own benefit at the expense of the general welfare. This happens regardless of what economic system is nominally in effect,

        Another abuse of procedure is when persons chosen to act for the people refuse to report what they have actually done – as for instance, spending the public money with no accounting. How can the people judge whether their representatives are acting competently or honestly without such reporting? Traditionally, failure to report is considered presumptive evidence of incompetence and dishonesty. Even minor omissions are suspicious and may disqualify representatives. But in today’s Venezuela, very flagrant failures to report are ignored by supporters of the ruling faction.

        Again, this has nothing to do with any particular economic program or system.

  4. Way to go, Quico.
    This is a gem of a post. One of the best oppo pieces I’ve read in a long time. Somebody had to put the puzzle together and denounce the illegal nature of Chavez’ regime in a clear and comeplling way. You’ve done it brilliantly. I agree that it needs to be translated and made viral.

  5. Epic, that must have been a ton of work to get all those links. It’s also pretty damn sad. I also agree in translating this and publishing it in other places as well.

  6. Years ago at a meeting with Ministry officials who wanted to institute a new tax via a regulation rather than via a Law as mandated by the Constitution , I heard a Ministry lawyer spout a first version of the Maduro Doctrine on being assailed by other attendees on the unconstitutionality of the proposed tax measure , ” the law is subordinate to the political will of those leading the revolution , it must be interpreted in line with the goals of the ‘process’ ” to which he added ” I am a personal friend of supreme tribunal magistrate so and so, and in case of doubt I’m sure he will support my position that the tax imposed by this regulation is lawful’ . What this means is that in todays Venezuela the Rule of Law, so cherished of democratic societies elsewhere has been substituted by a tropical version of Nazi Germany’s ‘Fuhrer Princip’, according to which ‘obedience to the powers that be trump the law’ or ‘The will of the leader must be followed even where it conflicts with a Law , because the supreme will of the leader stands above any Law’ . Maduro’s doctrine is simply a polished version of the Fuhrer Princip.

  7. Quico… It’s not which articles. But to whom they are applied and in which situation. If you are in the Leadership of the RRRevolucion Bolivariana! and you don’t feel like it, no article need apply to you strictly. If you are not, they can even come up with new law and regulation out of their… pockets to strike you down.

    Remember, “we” dirty fascists (no matter if some are too young for that) oppressed them and all the downtrodden (????) masses they (believe they) incarnate by having before they came in in 1998, a Constitution that was actually followed and that kept their Revolution impossible. This is THEIR Revolution, THEIR revenge for not allowing them to succeed with the 1992 coup, and not allowing them to have absolute and total power to construct Socialism (and suck Venezuela dry on the side) before.

    • Right, but what gets me is that you’d think that they ignore the constitution because they don’t agree with it, because it was somehow foisted on them by some dark force from the outside. The part that’s never made any sense to me is that it’s *their* constitution which *they* wrote in the Assembly where *they* had 95% of the seats and that *they* championed all along. It’s…really weird, when you think about it.

      • Well it wasn’t written by them alone. They had to share a bit of the responsibility at that time and so some inconvenient stuff was included. Perhaps it was their intention all along not to pay heed to those inconvenient bits, perhaps that attitude just evolved with their stay in power. The fact that they are being inconsistent in the details is nothing new and there is no reason for it.

      • First of all, not all in the Constitutional Assembly were with the Revolution. Many of its most influential drafters abandoned the government Coalition (normal politics) when it became Hugo’s Personal Revolution (you know how zany…).

        Second and last, the Revolution is sooo sacred and important that it shall not be bound by reality, precedent or by the given word, signatures, or the past selves of the Revolutionaries. Others would call it an unique combination of mendacity and chutzpah.

        Third: Para mis amigos todo, para mis enemigos la ley. MI ley. MINE!!!! ONLY MINE!!!! Did you notice how these guys believe they have allodial titles of property to everything they come into contact with? There’s no such thing as The Public in Venezuela. The government is according to them, theirs forever and ever. The Constitution is not the Venezuelan people’s but theirs to use as they see fit. The people that vote for them, they treat as they belonged to them.

  8. Section 28, the Constitutional Right to Information

    After establishing that people have a right to their personal files held by government, the section continues:

    “Equally, a citizen may access documents of any nature which contain information the knowledge of which could be of interest to communitiies or groups of persons.”

    Formality! Chavez’ medical file isn’t of interest to anyone!

  9. While we are about to enter in some sort of spinoff version of North Korea and Cuba and some others less hardcore but still “formality” lovers countries around in Africa( Zimbabwe anyone?).
    Maduro should reconsider to re-shape our constitution and in particular change Art 6; you see, making some sort of comparison (maybe inaccurate but Im trying to make a point here), the CPSU rule the Soviet Union illegally after its leader Krushchev overthrown Malenkov who was the Prime Minister in 1956, thereafter the Party governed and considered the Executive arm of the URSS, the Council of Minister, a formality, it was emptied of every single meaning, until Brezhnev decided that was appropriate to change the constitution in 1977(before that he just held both charges, Prime Ministry and General Secretary) with high regard to the Art. 6 legitimating, de iure, the CPSU control of the Soviet State. As in the Soviet Union our beloved country’s government is just becoming non-existent, Chavez had the legitimacy to govern whether we liked it or not , and this new lack of legitimacy make us vulnerable to enter in another episode of “dictatorial goverment part III episode II”.

    Either they decide to show some little respect and change the art. 6 of our constitution (or the entire constitution): they could make Chavez our eternal president for example, or just declare that Venezuelan Goverment and Cuban one are identical twins of the same mother ideology thus allowing the creation of some sort of federation, sound fun isn’t it? It would save us the indignation of seeing our Magna Charta violated and abused constantly.

    Anyways, to cut the edge of this surreal, tragicomical and absurd theatrical like situation I found these creepy videos on the net regarding self-profecies announced by Chavez, Müller Rojas and Salas-Feo senior. >> was the guy joking? was he serious? this just amuse me somehow I dont know if he was even serious >>> enter X-Files territory here

    We are living in a Country that has stopped to be a Country, we indeed are about to become just a formality (hope I’m totally wrong).

  10. I joint all praises. Quico you have that very clear since the very begining. Ahh, almost forgot! The constitution of 1961 did not provide for any constituyente as a way to amend the constitution but that was also a mere formality (or maybe a lack of it?). That was how all this mess started, remember? One last thing: la constitucion dice lo que el TSJ dice que dice. And for those thinking in that TSJ already stated that the swearing act is essential to commence excercising power (Justice Carrasquero dixit) dont forget a famous phrase of the TSJ: penetrada la sala de graves dudas pasa a modificar su criterio anterior en los terminos siguientes. . .

  11. FT, this is a pretty decent piece. Thanks for ensuring that with every passing day, the constitution is better read and understood by a greater number.

    However, it’s a document to be discarded once the charade of representative democracy has served its temporary purpose. You may be astounded that so much it is apparently down to interpretation. Welcome to constitutional law and the contradictions of ambitious ideals with bureaucratic necessities.

    The bigger picture, and both of us know it, is the future of Venezuelan democracy. Should we stick with the very little that we have now and have always had, or do we build a better system of grassroots governance?

    • “it’s a document to be discarded once the charade of representative democracy has served its temporary purpose”, And these are the same people who cry “golpe” whenever they have the chance….

    • So it was a racket, a scam? Even for the democratic leftists? They were useful fools? Good to know… specially for them. No wonder communism is in danger of extinction.

      “…or do we build a better system of grassroots governance?” Or does YOUR Supreme Leader build a better system of grassroots governance to impose it on the rest of us?, rather. Curious grassroots governance, where the grassroots are directed on exactly how to grow by the Leader. Think it was pioneered in 1922 in Southern Europe, on a nation shaped like a boot.

    • Se quito la careta–Discard the Constitution once, “the charade of representative democracy has served its temporary purpose.” And, …”we build a better system of grassroots governance,” which, by inference will be neither “representative”, much less “democratic” Yoyo, the buffoon alter ego of GAC. “The Three Faces of Eve” was a piker, compared to GAC.

    • “Should we stick with the very little that we have now and have always had, or do we build a better system of grassroots governance?”

      I’m listening.

    • “…or do do we build a better system of grassroots governance?” Interesting yoyo, say more. I agree, but it isn’t happening with chavismo. Perhaps, with post-chavismo.

  12. Thursday January 10 and the rise of Maduro’s regency under Castro’s grip might be “la gota que derramo el vaso”.
    I just hope the opposition reacts and in unison recriminates this pathetic situation.

  13. Thanks! Now I get it too. Inhabilitaciones happened despite article 42. Also, that explains why they held a referendum on the constitutional amendment to allow the indefinite election. It all makes sense now

  14. Quico, this is a very ingeniuos post. But it’s so ingenious that it’s allowed you to skirt over the question of whether Maduro’s interpretation of the Constitution in this case makes any sense.
    Well, it’s not so clear to me that it’s senseless. Let’s think about it a bit.
    1. Article 233, which states that the President of the National Assembly should take office in case that there is an absolute absence of the President elect, applies only in the case of an absolute absence. But we are not in the case of an absolute absence here: the president (as far as we know) has not died, resigned, and has not been deemed by a medical board to be incapacitated from taking office.
    2. There is no procedure in the Constitution to deal with the temporal absence of the President-elect. It is not clear that such a figure exists.
    3. Thus, the constitution leaves ample room for interpretation. Now, the idea that the swearing-in ceremony can be postponed makes perfect sense in the case of an emergency situation in which the President cannot be sworn in on January 10th. Suppose by way of example that the President elect suffered an appendicitis and had to be taken for emergency surgery on January 10th. When he wakes up on January 11th would we then say that he cannot take office but that we have to hold new elections?
    4. There is a sense in which, particularly when these vacuums of interpretation arise, one should be as respectful as possible of the popular will, and it is clear that Venezuelans re-elected Chavez. Thus it does not seem like a distortion of the popular will that the person whom the President-elect clearly stated in a public speech less than a month ago should take office in case that he were not able to continue serving, should be the person holding office during his absence.
    5. Most importantly, there is a risk that by continuously insisting that the President of the National Assembly take over, the opposition is seen as trying to achieve by legalistic means what it could not achieve at the ballot box, making it all the more difficult to gain the suport it would need to win in the elections which will sooner or later be held. Those elections, and not the constitutional transition, should be at the center of the opposition’s strategy.

    • True, but Maduro et. al. are talking about Jan.10 being a “continuation” of Chavez’s presidency, not the beginning of a new one, as part of their justification to postpone his swearing-in. But, as the reasonable person you seem to be, I’m sure you’ll agree that the Supreme Court will come to a correct decision in accordance with the law.

    • Chavez’ term expires fatally on January 10th. If Diosdado is not appointed we are going to become a headless state. There is no term extension, that would amount to a coup. Maduro is vicepresident because he was appointed during the present term and his position as VP expires on Thursday.
      By analogy, you can establish a temporary absence for an elected President where the President of the Assembly holds office until the President can be sworn in (The President of the Assembly is the only member of government called to cover absences of a President elect because he has a mandate in his term that does not expire on January 10th as Maduro’s). This situation cannot last longer that 180 days.

      At this point I really think that the don’t piss off the chavista base strategy is really not going to do any good for us. Its obvious that Chavismo is trying to circumvent constitutional rules to stay in power . We have to be clear with that message, otherwise we will acquiesce in the violation. We cannot become enablers of the blindness that has taken over the population.

    • Whoops, Godgiven just ruined Toro’s whole argument. But don’t expect Toro to respond. He never does when he’s been beaten…

      • GAC You used to do a better job in the past. You keep disappointing. The fact that the constitution says unambiguously the President has to be sworn in on Jan 10th means nothing to you. You’re argument is that since you think we wouldn’t be complaining had Capriles won, we’re wrong. Get a job, Chris!

        • Quico can eat a bowl of alphabet soup and still be able to shit a better argument than those of GAC/Cort/Atruro/& the other members of that sorry bunch.

    • Godgiven2013:
      The opposite of absolute is accountable.

      We are not dealing with an absolute absence, due to the shirking of common sense by government factions. Nor are we dealing with an accountable absence. In sum, it’s limbo time, until January 10th, or the moment in which the TSJ issiues a ruling. Certainly, we can’t expect any medical board to report on the condition of the dying president of a nation, in a Cuban hospital. That is, based on the secrecy with which the Cubans have conducted themselves, so far. We can’t even expect Maduro to respect Chávez’ wishes (according to what he supposedly told Maduro), to tell the people what Chávez has, no matter how difficult it may be to hear. But popular will is not being respected here, either.

      In the meantime, the limbo conveniently allows for an oppo-targeted “pataleo” from Maduro. How DARE the oppo intervene in unofficial communications with Cuban doctors, et al, to determine the accurate status of their president? (Makes Maduro look like the lying fool that he is, and reveals a far darker side than what the government wishes to reveal to that so-called popular will, all eager to know, but not allowed the privelege.

    • Godgiven2013: That’s all reasonable, but I’d just like to note the obvious: my post isn’t really about Art. 231 at all.

      In the Richter Scale of earth-shakingly bizarre constitutional interpretations, the way they’re mangling 231 is maybe a magnitude 5.2 or 5.3 or something. That’s a far cry from the Haitian style devastation they’ve wrought on Article 272, or the Tohoku Earthquake-Tsunami that hit Article 328, closely followed by the Fukushima Dai Ichi scale meltdown in Articles 144 and 254.

      In reality I can almost imagine a non-insane cast of mind where their interpretation of 231 might make sense to someone. It’s just that coming from the same political movement that’s devastated so much of the rest of the constitutional order, it lacks verisimilitude somehow.

      • In other words, don’t pay attention to the giant mojón that I open the post with, because its nonsense… Instead, look at these other bullshit examples where I think I may have a stronger argument…

        • I genuinely wonder if you have flashes of insight where you momentarily, fleetingly, privately read back on comments like this one and manage – just for a second – the critical distance from yourself to understand “oh, that’s why Quico doesn’t think I have the emotional maturity to debate him”?

          • I genuinely wonder if you have flashes of insight where you momentarily realize that you have no objectivity whatsoever, and are simply motivated (for more than a decade) by an irrational hatred for one man. So much so that you actually believe that if the democratically elected president is not able to be sworn in for his six-year term on the arbitrary day of Jan 10th, then that means he should not become president but declared absent?

            I read back on comments like yours and seriously can’t believe people like you even exist.

          • Huh? Toro just said he can consider their interpretation of 231 as possibly making sense. His point is simply that in light of the complete disregard for the rest of the constitution displayed by these same people, their arguments don’t command respect.

            At the very least, the constitution is clear that following a failure to be sworn in on the 10th, it should happen as soon as possible. If it cannot, a number of medical experts should be gathered together to determine whether the absence is permanent or not. Your argument, and that of most Chavistas, is: “the constitution is not clear when the supreme court should swear Chavez in, so he can be sworn in whenever, let’s ignore that stuff about a medical board, since we don’t like it”

    • And do you know? President is a job description, not honorific. There are requirements as to mental and physical health associated to it. If it turns out that a person cannot leave a hospital bed and cannot fill the job, the person is absent. As is Chavez, who is gravely ill.

      Then, there first should be an open debate in the legislative and judiciary, over whether the Presidential absence due to medical motives is to be temporary or definitive. This is about the great unknown that the Castros seem to know more about than the Venezuelans, the President’s health. Objective information and expert opinion built on the result of actual medical histories and exams should be publicly available. It is not. You know?

      • “there first should be an open debate in the legislative and judiciary, over whether the Presidential absence due to medical motives is to be temporary or definitive.”

        Yep, and that’s clearly laid out in Art. 234:

        “Si una falta temporal se prolonga por más de noventa días consecutivos, la Asamblea Nacional decidirá por mayoría de sus integrantes si debe considerarse que hay falta absoluta.”

        • Actually, the relevant article is: 233

          “Artículo 233 – Serán faltas absolutas del Presidente o Presidenta de la República: su muerte, su renuncia, o su destitución decretada por sentencia del Tribunal Supremo de Justicia, su 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 como tal por la Asamblea Nacional, así como la revocación popular de su mandato.”

          Chavez, if you are not aware, has cancer, so the medical board provision is the relevant one (he is not absent because he is on vacation or got lost after a plane crash in the south pacific).

          • Well, you got one thing right. Chavez has cancer. Why that would mean it is an absolute absence makes no sense whatsoever.

          • Because if he lacks of the mental (like being in coma) or physical faculties (like being in coma or debilitated) required to be the president he shouldn’t be in charge of the country.

          • Yes, but that’s not the case, and if it were the case it would have to be certified by a medical commission appointed by the TSJ, which has not yet happened. So just settle down there. If the guy can’t continue as president it will be resolved soon enough. You all just look stupid swarming around like vultures who can’t even wait a few weeks to see what happens.

          • Yes, right, that is not the case…
            Listen GAC, Chavez is, in the best case, recovering from major surgery from a second recurrence of cancer in 18 months. The surgery was so risky he even addressed his supporters before it naming a successor, in case something happened to him.

          • Why wouldn’t I? The bigger question is if you agree that the will of the people should be respected. That has always been the big question for the Venezuelan opposition.

          • Of course the will of the people is the most important thing. That’s what we are trying to defend here.

            No one elected Maduro, and the concept that the people voted for a “project” and not for Chavez doesn’t pass any sanity checks.

          • Listen, the will of the people should always be respected.
            The same people we’re talking about voted for Chavez believing he was healthy. Things changed; Chavez has a second recurrence of cancer. The situation is serious enough that he named a successor before getting into that OR.
            The people whose will you consider important to be respected, have the right to know what’s going on.

          • GAC dixit: “You all just look stupid swarming around like vultures who can’t even wait a few weeks to see what happens.”

            – Why do you arrogantly think that only the opposition is interested in knowing the status of Chávez’ health? Or are you one of these creeps that think you’ve got all the answers and that ‘el pueblo chavista’ isn’t worth informing, as would be required in any civilized country that calls itself a democracy?

            – How long should it take for a medical commission to inform the demanding public of its president’s health?

            GAC dixit: “the will of the people should be respected.”
            Indeed. But when the will of the people, who have been interested in knowing about Chávez’ health, weeks ago, be respected?

          • Yes, Rodrigo, the people voted to re-elect Chavez after, what, 14 years? But they obviously don’t want his “project”…. Forget sanity checks, I’m wondering if you are even conscious?

          • Dude, the elections are for a president. Is not like he can suddenly quit and appoint someone else and expect everyone to be really happy with the decision. People voted for him. Period. If you think people want Maduro as president then elections should be held. There is no need to argue there.

            The idea that people voted for a project can lead to a result in which maduro (or somebody else) becomes a defacto president.

          • “Of course the will of the people is the most important thing.”

            Yes, its always been the most important thing, right? That’s why every time they lose the opposition claims fraud, they claim the CNE manipulates the results, they attempt to overthrow the democratically elected government (2002), they try to shut down the economy so the government will fall (2003), they lie about referendum results (2004) they boycott elections (2005), they call on the people to carry out a “Ukranian revolution” (2006), they lie to the people that the reforms are going to take away their kids (2007), they claim the majority’s decision to revoke term limits shouldn’t be respected (2009), and they run a completely dishonest campaign about not supporting neoliberalism (2012).

            Yes, you all have a great record of supporting the will of the people.

          • “Is not like he can suddenly quit and appoint someone else ”

            Uh, this didn’t happen. Again, are you conscious?

        • Maybe you were not listening (or reading)…

          What I said is that there’s NO INFORMATION AVAILABLE for the Public and the Powers of the State to decide what kind of absence this is.

          Some physicians (as yet unidentified) in Cuba know. The Castros know, Maduro knows, Cabello knows. I suppose it is more than slightly treasonous that they sit on this information that would clear doubts. Or are they criminally negligent?

          • The public will argument by PSF brats is bogus. For the public will to know the status of Chávez’ health is being disrespected by this government. Cuban physicians are now in lock-down mode at CIMEQ, after marquina shed (accurate) lights on the Cuban-Chavista need to hide truths.

            Finally, here’s a little something, not far from reality:
            Está demostrado que si ponen a interpretar la CONSTITUCION a un chavista, hugo chavez puede tomar posesión en 3 años y en el planeta Marte

    • The scenario you put out there is fair enough, but it’s contingent on an unlikely event, and is circumvented easily. Have a doctor come out and explain the condition clearly an unambiguously. Simple. Because this is not happening, and it’s clear that Chavez is not taking office, sitting around diddling and pretending that he can sometime in the future take office is dishonesty at the minimum.

      In any event, Chavez does not have fucking appendicitis.

    • Godgiven2013,

      I love that you present arguments with rationality. I think you missed a few details regarding article 231.

      “El candidato elegido o candidata elegida tomará posesión del cargo de Presidente o Presidenta de la República el diez de enero del primer año de su período constitucional, mediante juramento ante la Asamblea Nacional. Si por cualquier motivo sobrevenido el Presidente o Presidenta de la República no pudiese tomar posesión ante la Asamblea Nacional, lo hará ante el Tribunal Supremo de Justicia.”

      Note how the first sentence uses “candidate” and how the second sentence uses “President”, while they both refer to the same person, the person who won the earlier elections. This detail establishes the irrelevance of whether the person is the current president, or a newly elected candidate, with regards to the date of the 10th.

      Also note, that specifying “the first year of his constitutional period”, the constitution is establishing that this is by no means a continuation of any previous constitutional period, again cementing the 10th.

      Also note, that by adding a second sentence with the sole purpose of establishing a backup institution before which posession must be taken, the constitution is indirectly establishing the lack of a backup date, thus the 10th is triply fixed.

    • We did believe in Constitutions. Had the Armed Forces that deposed Chavez, the Unions, the Churches and the main political parties stood behind Carmona’s coup, you would be crying still and Chavez would have preceded Zelaya by some years. But they couldn’t and did not for obvious reasons. Read history instead of watching the crap eulogies you are accustomed to.

    • Jehovah Witnesses always send out their least valued members (old women) to preach to the converted. So, too, does the revolution. By sending out flunkies (the trolls that visit this site) to try to convert us, the revolution demonstrates its use of capitalism to value its units of production.

  15. The Maduro doctrine has been Venezuela’s rule for centuries now. “Rule of men not of law”. But there is a second rule even older than this, when we got new laws from our king. “Acáto pero no cúmplo” Vainly have some venezuelans tried to shake off these facts, but so far we are in a minority as attested by recent electoral results and the growing exodus of working citizens to other lands.

  16. F. T., EXCELLENT post, one of the (or, THE) best of yours I’ve read. Agree with consensus that it should be published in Spanish, and spread far and wide. (It’s also excellent troll bait, luring them out of their dark/dank/anti-democratic lairs, to reveal themselves for what they really are.)

  17. the juramento of the president elect is what allows him to exercise the powers of his office , its an act of investiture , absent it he has the title but lacks the authority . the old presidency dies on jan 10th , and with it the presidents power to designate a vicepresident thus if the president elect is unable to attend the act of investiture , Maduro’s office ends and there is no one to take over his place while the Asamblea determines whether Mr Chavez condition incapacitates him permanently or temporarily through appointment of a medical committee. In other words a ‘vacio de poder’ ocurrs as to who assummes as acting president , evidently Maduro isnt it because he has not been appointed by the president elect who is as yet lacking in the authority to appoint a vicepresident. This vacio de poder is is filled by the Head of the Asamblea If Mr Chavez dies or is declared permanently incapacitated , however if he is declared only temporarily incapacitated then even if nothing specific is said as to who acts as interim president , there exists a rule of interpretation in Venezuelan law which commmands the interpreter to guide himself by the legal provision which is closest in factual assumption to that which has to be interpreted ( interpretacion extensiva o analogica) which would mean that a president elect who is temporarily incapacitated is replaced by the Head of the Asamblea. What cannot be forgot or ignored is that the Asamblea is under of the obligation of appointing a Medical Committee as promptly as possible to determine when the president elect is known to be seriously sick to determine whether his medical condition warrants him to be declared permanently incapacitated to exercise the office of president for the period for which he was elected . To defer this decision indefinitely without cause is of course clearly unconstitutional.

    • Agreed, Chavistas say the constitution allows some leeway on the administration of the oath of office. Arguably it does. But they then use that ambiguity to say it is merely a formality and the previous vice president can rule for weeks or months until the president can be sworn in by the supreme court. This is clearly unconstitutional, since the provision for a medical board and takeover by the president of the national assembly would not exist if swearing in could be delayed indefinitely with the previous vice president ruling instead.

  18. >>> … On further reflection, though, I suspect a higher order juridical principle is at play here.

    “una fe de vida” del presidente? Where’s waldo? has the Asamblea Nacional received even an indication or physical inkling ? maybe a finger or an ear of the Secuestrado? Tanto sturm und drang, … sooo.. where’s the beef?

  19. A little bit OT, but why doesn’t the opposition borrow a page from LBJ’s playbook. the old “let-them-deny-it trick” and claim that Chavez is already dead?

    For anyone wondering about the reference the legend goes, LBJ was seriously behind in one of his congressional races. He told one of his lieutenants to accuse his opponent of having intimate relations with his pigs. When the aide pointed out that LBJ knew perfectly well that the opponent was not a fig plucker LBJ replied, “I know that. I just want to make him deny it!” LBJ went on to win the race handily.

    In the Chavez scenario, the accusation that Chavez is dead will be vehemently denied, and in a slight twist to the LBJ version, the opposition’s response should be “prove it.” What happens next will be anyone’s guess, but extremely interesting to watch.

    • They’ll just spin it in their favour showing some made up parte médico or an old recording, se quitaron la careta hace rato ya.

    • The LBJ play book? Maybe but LBJ the creepiest president along with Nixon and 43. Jackie fingered LBJ in her tapes, he did wind up Vietnam, and there are still questions about LHO’s associations prior to Dallas 1pm.

      Estamos bien distraidos.

  20. Had Capriles won the elections in October, but then fell very ill on January 9th and wasn’t able to be sworn in on the 10th, or even the 11th, 12th, etc. etc. Let’s say he had to undergo emergency surgery and wasn’t able to be sworn in until some time later. I’m sure all of you would be interpreting the constitution just as you are right now, right?

    I can just imagine Toro writing up a long piece saying that Diosdado must take over on the 10th, that there’s is just no way the swearing in can be postponed…. that would be a coup if Capriles were allowed to be sworn in a few weeks later…And Capriles’s VP can’t assume power temporarily…. No way!!!!

    Can you imagine?? I can’t either…. because you’re all full of shit.

    • Wow so you are actually agreeing (subtly) with the post, with a little bit of bitchy rant of course, but you still don’t deny anything of what Quico wrote, because clearly, there’s not much for you to do, i just hope you stop pretending that the chavistas are democratic…

    • The Sean Penn smugness its strong with this one! So, again, meando fuera del perol, you justify how the government its once again wiping its ass with the constitution saying that the opposition would have done the same thing? Really? I mean, really? That’s the best you can come up with?

      This is elementary school yard tantrums kind of behavior, something along the lines of “UH? ARE YOU CALLING ME A POOPIE HEAD? YOU’RE THE POOPIE HEAD YOU STUPID CHICKEN” I mean, goddam, no wonder you’re always laughed off this blog.

      • Let me make it very clear for the severely mentally challenged: What I am criticizing is your bullshit interpretation of the constitution. It is easy to see that you are interpreting it that way only because it serves your interests. Put the shoe on the other foot and you’d be interpreting it exactly the opposite of what you are saying right now.

        The truth is that the constitution does not say what should happen in the even a president-elect cannot be sworn in on the 10th. But anyone with half a brain knows that it makes no sense for this day to be written in stone, and that if it must be temporarily postponed to respect the will of the people then that is what should be done. You would be saying the exact same thing if Capriles had won in October and you know it.

        • Then again, if we would say the same thing had Capriles won, you’d still say that we’re interpreting the constitution wrong because it doesn’t serve YOUR interests, your argument simply doesn’t have a moral ground to stand on, you wag your finger at people for doing the same thing you’re doing, Chris Chan would be proud of you!

          • Haha! So now the justification is that since WE would do it if we were in your situation, then it makes it okay for YOU to do it now? I’m amazed at how sophisticated an argument you managed to put together there…

          • I put together? Read what you wrote up there, I’m just showing you how much of a hypocrite you are by using the same retarded logic you used in your rant.

            I like this post, once again it sends the dummies into fits of rage and shows that once again, están meando fuera del perol, yet this isn’t meando fuera del perol, this is meando fuera del continuo espacio temporal.

          • Christ, you are more mentally challenged than I ever imagined. But, then again, I couldn’t expect much more from people who attempt to use ridiculous technicalities to overthrow the will of the people..

          • The will of the people who got lied to by a candidate who assured them he was as healthy and strong as Usain Bolt, Indepabis should’ve had really look into his candidature, it would had probably been “Clausurada por oferta engañosa”

            So when your bullshit gets consistently called on, you’re just shown to be a hypocritical, two faced, biased dummie. How embarrasing is that? That me being a quote, “Mentally challenged” person, was able to see through it? Then you have no chance against the regular guy.

          • Let’s sum up this debate here. I say you guys are making a bullshit interpretation of the constitution to serve your interests. You respond with “You would have done the same!” I ridicule this argument for being stupid and unsophisticated, and you respond with “that’s the same argument you made!”

            I point out that you are simply trying to use a technicality to overthrow the will of the people, and you respond with the baseless assertion that “Chavez lied about his health, so the elections should not be respected!”

            This is a monument to opposition reasoning…

          • The “technicality”is a constitutional rule that was approved by referendum in 1999 by “the will of the people” as “the will of the people” who elected Chavez in October.

          • Nice try, but the “technicality” doesn’t say anything about what should happen if the president-elect cannot be present on Jan. 10th. You guys have just completely made up a bullshit answer to that.

          • I don’t understand what is your argument then. First, you seem to say that the constitution provides for a technicality that should not override the will of the people, then you say that the Constitution does not forbid to do what chavismo thinks of doing. Then why coming with the technicality argument in the first place. Tú mismo te echaste paja.

          • I didn’t say any technicality actually exists. I said you morons are trying to use a technicality. This wouldn’t be the first time that you all try to make arguments that aren’t based on reality.

          • The only thing lacking here is reality. The real account from the people who knows just how seriously ill Hugo Chavez is. If the reality is revealed to us, then we know if he can be sworn in and when. The rumors are created by the deliberate opacity about his condition. The technicality is not if he can be sworn in on the 10, its if in fact he can be sworn in at any date. And the Constitutions provides the absolute absence of a President who is not physically competent to hold office.

          • The constitution does not give a timeline for a medical commission. But indeed, this is what will eventually have to happen if the president is alive, yet unable to return to the presidency. Certainly we should give him more than 3 weeks, don’t you think?

          • A medical report stating details about I don’t what type of cancer he has given by his doctors might quiet away those evil rumors that “offend” you guys so much. After 27 days I think the prognosis for this year about his health must be clear enough to determine whether he is fit or not to be President.

          • The president of AN only takes possession in the case of an absolute absence. The current scenario is obviously not that. So it would make no sense for the president of AN to take possession.

          • “The constitution does not give a timeline for a medical commission”

            Jeez! People like you are why credit card agreements have five pages of fine print. Obviously, the medical commission is meant to become involved when the ability of the president to recover is not certain. That is exactly the case right now, even you have said as much, ergo, time for the medical commission.

            If now is not time for a medical commission, why was it even mentioned in the consitution? Game, set, match. Your argument loses.

          • No, if Capriles was absent for medical reasons, we would expect the constitution to be… followed:

            “the permanent physical or mental disability certified by a medical board appointed by the Supreme Court”

            If it were truly temporary, there would be no problem. You are truly a laughable character, saying “If all this other stuff happened, and you did the same thing I am doing now, you would be doing the same thing I am doing now, so what I am doing is OK.”

            On top of that, you are making arguments that will be irrelevant in a few days or weeks, once it becomes clear a medical board needs to be appointed (after you strenuously attempted to avoid that possibility).

          • Exactly, I made the same point above.

            GAC is a such a joker, he seems to think the medical board should only be appointed if the president can’t recover after A FEW MONTHS (“Give the guy more than three weeks”). Why then is it even mentioned? In any kind of medical event, the outcome will be clear by then to any layman. The guy will be obviously recovered and acting as president, very sick, or dead. The point of getting experts is to give a reasonable prognosis before waiting for such a long period.

            If GAC were Israeli, he would probably still be insisting Ariel Sharon might recover any day now to resume his presidency since doctors are as yet unable to 100% predict when a coma patient will wake up.

          • Ariel Sharon is in a permanent vegetative state. Chavez is recovering from an operation and is completely conscious. But good comparison anyway.

            The constitution clearly allows for a temporary absence of up to 180 days, but you guys are all ready throw the guy out of office after 3 weeks. Amazing that you can’t realize how ridiculous you sound, and how it just makes you look like desperate vultures hoping to take power through a technicality that doesn’t exist.

        • “…and that if it must be temporarily postponed to respect the will of the people then that is what should be done”.
          Was the will of the people to elect a person with an advanced cancer? That we don’t know. People thought Chavez was cured (before the elections there were polls showing close to 80% thought this was the case).
          You can’t assume the result of the election would have been the same if more info on his illness was avalible, or had Maduro run as a candidate.

          • The really sad thing is the lack of insight, GAC. You really aren’t aware than 45% of your posts consists of you attacking other people for refusing to engage with the argument you put forward, and another 45% – like this one – consists of you refusing to engage with the arguments others put forward.

            I don’t think you’re pretending. I think you just genuinely haven’t caught on that that’s happening.

          • Wrong. DJ didn’t make an argument. He made a baseless claim. You don’t know if Chavez knew of his current condition before the elections. It is a completely baseless assertion.

            His ARGUMENT was implicit. It was that the elections should not count because Chavez “lied” about his condition. I responded to that.

          • The claim has a solid basis, most Chavez voters believed him to be cured of cancer. Polls confirm it. If you are going to talk about “The Will of The People” then you should consider what the people were lead to believe.

          • And I wonder how the people were supposed to know something that Chavez himself did not know? You have zero proof that Chavez knew his cancer had returned before the elections. That is pure speculation, yet you somehow think we should take your speculations into account as we interpret the constitution. How ironic…

          • GAC: How about specifying, with details, what type of cancer does he have, like um, most of the leaders in latin america would? (Think santos, cristina) I believe that after looking like a swollen potato on tv people deserved to know what type of cancer they had, but they didn’t right? because it didn’t favor them, thus making certain article of the constitution about informing clearly about the well-being of the president yet another formality, sir.

          • GAC dixit: “You have zero proof that Chavez knew his cancer had returned before the elections.”

            GAC: Prove that Chávez DIDN’T KNOW his cancer had returned before the elections.
            Chávez only looked like a bilious potato, but oh, no, he was cured, as he said, and that was good enough for GAC. Two months later, ooops, I’m not cured after all. I only just found out, just this very minute. And that was good enough for GAC.

            Now slippin’ and slidin’ , GAC in delusion has appointed himself the source of all information from the government. Classic. Otro en el manicomio, pues.


        Isn’t that what this *revolution* is all about: infantilism?
        Can you see GAC having to be accountable on a job, where he has to ship just-in-time inventory, or protect people’s lives? He wouldn’t last long for all the excuses he’d be spinning, in order to cover up his irresponsibilities, or those of others. Or say that as a scientist he has to weigh all factors carefully. He couldn’t do that, either, given his fixation on one line of thought.

        GAC’s epitaph: Here lies a useless tool who found a haven among incompetents, and nobly defended them, against all logic.

    • Well, Capriles and his campaign would have to be open, forthcoming and transparent to the public on WHETHER HE IS ABLE OR NOT TO FILL THE JOB DESCRIPTION. IF THE INABILITY IS TEMPORARY OR PERMANENT. It would have to do with his health and with what doctors have to say, as experts on that. That would help the public opinion, the judiciary and the legislative decide on a sane course of action. Compare with the present situation, please. Who’s full of it?

      • It is obviously not clear whether or not he will be able to fill the job description. He needs more time to recover. However, if he is unable to return to the presidency the time will eventually come for that determination to be made. What is funny is it has only been a few weeks and you all are acting like this is some huge scandal.

        • Not sure if you know this, but the constitution allows for up to 180 days of absence. So far it’s only been 26 days. Settle down my friend.

          • A couple of questions, GAC: (1) How long is, say, a janitor in a government ministry allowed to stay off work without presenting a doctor’s note? (2) How many days has Chavez been off work in the last 18 months? The president is, among other things, a public employee.

            We have heard from politicians as to what his state of health is. But if I want a weather forecast, I don’t go to a plumber. In this case, it’s even worse, since all the people who have issued ‘opportune and truthful’ statements about his health (including the president himself) have a direct interest in manipulating public opinion and concealing facts. That, in case it’s not clear, is why we need to hear from the doctors.

          • Crises can be avoided by making an inquiry. By having experts give their opinion, on publicly available information, and by having deliberation by appropriate instances. Crises can be avoided by transparency. You continue to avoid the issue. We don’t know if Hugo Chavez will ever be fit again to be President. Or if he is in this world.

          • The trouble is, Jan. 10 will come and go, without a crisis, and we will be left with the two stooges running the Country (with third stooge GAC/et. al.commenting on this Blog). Nothing will change UNTIL: Chavez is declared officially dead (at the Castros’ timing/convenience); or some now-unknown military patriot (any left??) stands up against all odds and takes over; or the economic situation becomes so bad the Pueblo can’t eat (long time off, probably); or Little Napoleon Diosdado thinks he can wing it on his own (bad for his “business”, though).

        • Please list other countries where the president, while remaining acting president, disappears for a few weeks for medical treatment. Let alone disappears without offering medical reports about his timeline for recovery. You can’t, that’s why it’s a scandal.

          • Can you list another country where if the president falls ill and must be hospitalized for several weeks, that the opposition would suddenly come out saying that the president should be declared permanently absent and new elections should be called? You can’t, because no country has an opposition as retarded as Venezuela’s.

          • I must list a country where the President DISAPPEARS from sight, condition unknown, location unknown (we are told he is in CIMEQ, maybe…) while gravely ill. Where everything regarding his welfare is entrusted to a foreign government without so much as a question answered publicly. I must list a country where no move is made by any of the other “institutions” to ascertain his state and avert a crisis.

            That is Venezuela.

        • It’s “obviously not clear”? Do you not think that the opposition and the people posting here would want it to be clear? Are you kidding me? “Only been a few weeks.” Almost a month dude.

    • That’s not what is happening. That’s a hypothetical. And it, as a hypothetical, is contingent on Chavez’ health actually being explained to the public in detail. Which, btw, isn’t happening with Chavez’ health.

      Had Capriles won the elections in October, but then fell very ill on Jan 9th and wasn’t able to be sworn in on the 10th, or even the 11th, 12th, etc, etc. Let’s say he had to undergo emergency surgery and wasn’t able to be sworn in until some time later. Let’s further say that his health condition was not being explained to the public at large except for some ambiguities. Let’s say that his information guy told people one thing while his VP pick told people another thing. Let’s say that no one knew what his current state was and we had no determination when he’d be healthy again to the point of being able to be sworn in. I’m sure you would be interpreting the constitution just as you are right now, right?

      It’s fucking rhetoric nonsense. Use common fucking sense.

        • So if Capriles was in a vegetative state (or his state was kept secret for weeks on end, perhaps months) and his VP pick decided that he was going to run the government, you would have no problem with that. Fair enough. Idiocy, to leave an unelected person in power, but fair enough.

  21. Quico, in order to understand the other side of a story, you must put yourself in the shoes of the other side of the story.

    Imagine for a moment that Capriles had won the elections and for whatever reasons, he gets sick and is not able to make it for January 10. On the one hand, you’ve got the people that elected him and want him as THE president. On the other hand, you’ve got the Constitution that, stupidly, has a fixed date for the swearing (in the laws of serious countries fixed dates are avoided like pest, precisely because they create these type of problems).

    My question is, if the current situation had been for Capriles and not for Chávez, what would you feel would be the right thing to do? Postpone the swearing or call new elections?If you postpone the swearing you are violating the Constitution but you are ratifying people’s choice. If you call for new elections, you are abiding to the Constitution but you are overulling the choice of the people.

    This is an impossible situation because the reality is that Venezuelan Constitution is a mess. It is badly written and full of contradictions because it was a Constitution tailor made for Chávez.

    I’ll give you an example: the 233. If Chávez dies today, it is not clear if the President in charge is Maduro or Cabello, because the article contradicts itself.

    • If Capriles had been elected President and became gravelly ill, the TSJ would had waited no time in appointing a group of loyal physicians to declare a permanent absence, would have appointed Diosdado President and call for elections. Lets not be so naive.

      • What I mean is that chavismo would have hold us responsible to the Constitution if Capriles became sick (Although perhaps Capriles having the sense and dignity that Chavez did not would have quit if he finds out that he is not fit to be President would have resign sparing this crisis to the country) and if we allow chavismo to get away with something different that the Constitution that they drafted and would surely had make us abide by if the situation were the opposite then we deserve what’s coming to us,

      • I agree, if Capriles had been the President elect and taken ill, for sure the TSJ would have step-in, we all know we are not playing in a fair legal system, but that is not my point. My point is what would have been the right thing to do? Call for a new election, or postpone the swearing?

        • If he had been ill to a degree that would make him unfit to hold office for several month, then an absolute absence would have to be declared and elections called. In case the illness is less serious, Diosdado would had to be sworn in President.(And I repeat, any sensible and ethical person (And I hold Capriles to be one) who knows that he is not fit to holdoffice would just quite to avoid a constitutional crisis such as the one we are having)
          And be sure Bruni, that if the situation were the opposite Capriles would have had to release all medical information regarding his condition to the TSJ and the AN to prove he is fit to be sworn in later. (As we know have the right to know exactly what’s wrong with Chavez) We cannot let pity turn us into accomplices of this madness.

          • As I mentioned in Miguel’s post, the problem is not the date. The problem is the President’s health that is unknown to everybody. That is the real problem.

          • The date is important as to who becomes the new president. If Diosdado is not sworn in and Maduro continues to be the de facto head of state, I think that amounts to a breaking of the constitutional order. Maduro has as much right as you and me to be head of state after Thursday.
            Beyond the legal technicalities, for me it seems that Chávez might be seriously ill but perhaps not close to dying yet and chavismo, once again and true to its nature, instead of trying to follow, what I admit are somehow contradictory constitutional norms on absence is just not going to do anything, hide reality, and brake the law, sinking the country into a void.
            About the troll’s argument what if Capriles had been sick things would be the same. Can you imagine Ramón Guillermo Aveledo and the Capriles family hiding him in a Hospital in the US and refusing to release information about his condition and insulting any chavista who requests truthful information about his health?

          • “Maduro has as much right as you and me to be head of state after Thursday.”

            I love this. Please keep making statements like this. It completely reveals your contempt for the will of the people.

          • Violating the Constitution is violating the will of the people as much as disrespecting the results of an election. There are health requirements to hold office and there is a huge uncertainty around the fact that Chavez meets him, lack of medical records, type of cancer, statement from his doctors and himself. Then the people in charge is trying to circumvent the constitutional rule of appointing the head of the AN President until he can be sworn in. If Chavez is unfit to be President, the the will of the people who voted for the Constitution calls for his absence to be declared and new elections to be held.

          • The president can be absent for up to 180 days. So far its been 26. They are still very far from “violating the constitution”.

    • I hace to disagree Bruni, the position the MUD has taken does respect the will of the people, if he can’t swear in you declare a temporary absence for 90 days, if he can’t come back in that time you can even extend it to 180 days, and if he still can’t come back you do the procedure of validating if he will ever be able to come back and only then you call for elections. And in all that time an elected official is the presidency temporarily. People elected Chavez no Maduro, so it’s their “interpretation” that doesn’t respect the will of the people.

      And yes, if Capriles had won and was unable to swear in I would be saying the same, in fact during Carmona’s coup I always said that if Chavez had indeed resigned the Diosdado needed to take over and call for elections, anything else was unconstitutional. I was accused of Chavista many times over that one so I am not afraid of saying it again now. Diosdado (who I thinks is evil) should be the temporary presidente and god protect us, but That’s the closest to the spirit of the law in my opinion.

      • You are proposing that the president of the AN take over during a period of 90 to 180 days, which is what is laid out in article 234. But apparently you ignored the part of 234 in which is says the vice-president is the one who replaces the president.

          • You are distorting the argument. Chavez can be sworn in after January 10. But his past terms expires on the 10 and so does Maduro’s. The constitution provides that if there is an absence of the President for the January 10, the President of the Assembly must be sworn in. All VP and cabinet appointment made by Chavez expire on Thursday and he can only make new ones after he is sworn in, after January 10 Diosdado become President and names a new VP and Cabinet until Chavez can be sworn in or his absolute absence is declared. Maduro was not elected by anyone to be President, he has a post in the cabinet that expires on Thursday.

          • ” The constitution provides that if there is an absence of the President for the January 10, the President of the Assembly must be sworn in.”

            Wrong. This is in the case of an absolute absence. What is an absolute absence? Well, it tells us very clearly:

            “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 permanentemente 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.”

            Do any of those situations apply to now? Nope. Try again.

          • There is no provision for the temporary absence of an elected President.The rule is applied by analogy. The VP can only finish the term of the President who appointed him. Maduro was not appointed for the 2013-2019 term. There is no legal continuity between Presidential terms, that´s why the first act after an election is to ratify or appoint a new VP and a cabinet.

          • The president of AN only takes possession in the case of an absolute absence. The current scenario is obviously not that. So it would make no sense for the president of AN to take possession.

          • GAC,
            You are right that there is an empty space there. Nonetheless it makes more sense to declare a temporary absence and have the president of the AN deal with the presidency. Something that is absolutely clear in the constitution is the fact that a presidential terms lasts 6 years, no more, no less. Given that the term limit is specified in the constitution and that a similar prevision is made for the president-elect absolute absence then, it make sense to me that the president of the AN would take over in the case of a president elect temporary absence..

            Additionally, a responsible AN would have summoned a medical board to asses that the president would be able to continue with his responsibilities, see if all these nonsense can be avoided and if absolute absence is in order. If the medical board says that Chavez will be able to continue, then great, but if not, then absolute absence should be declared.

          • I don’t understand where you guys are getting that the president of the AN would take over the presidency in the case of a temporary absence. The constitution clearly says that temporary absences are filled by the vice president.

            This whole argument that the presidency can only last 6 years is laughable. Was Chavez not elected for the period 2013-2019??? Why on Earth would anyone think that his presidency suddenly ends on January 10th? The people obviously elected him for another period, and just because he can’t be there on that day to raise his hand doesn’t change that. Even Capriles has recognized this.

            Isn’t it ironic when those “crazy arguments” of the Chavistas turn out to be recognized as valid even by your own leaders?

          • He is reelected. No one argues that, but what was not reelected was his cabinet and vice-presidents. Maduro’s terms is due on January 10th. That’s the fundamental difference. There is no concept of “continuation” in the constitution. As usual, when the president takes office, he appoints his cabinet and vice-president.

            In his “will” Chavez said that that Maduro should be ELECTED. In the case he didn’t do well.

            The people elected Chavez to be president, not Maduro. And like or not the AN president was also elected as a deputy by the people and then by those also elected. Maduro other hand has been just appointed. He was supposed to finish Chavez’s term, but not to continue to the next.

          • And Maduro is not the president. Chavez is. And he continues to be after January 10th. And if he wants to appoint Maduro as vice president again he can do that too. You are searching for a problem where there isn’t one (as usual).

          • And your statement assumes, for some strange reason, that Chavez would suddenly not want Maduro as vice president. Which makes no sense whatsoever, given that he’s made it clear as day that he does.

            And if you admit that Chavez’s swearing-in can be postponed (as even your hero Capriles has admitted) then the same logic would tell you that Maduro’s re-appointment can also be postponed until Chavez is sworn in again.

            Let’s see how long you can keep this stupid argument going before admitting it is ridiculous.

          • Swearing in can’t be postponed. The constitution and the 2008 supreme court ruling are clear on that. The debate here (I thought) is who should preside the exec on the 10th. I argue that Cabello. You argue that Maduro. If Chavez appears 15 days after, then he shall be appointed President. But in the meantime it is up the president of the AN to preside. And it should be the number 1 priority to appoint that medical board and inform the people (those who deserve respect) what the hell is happening.

            The term limit of the president is not flexible.

            And Chavez may or may not want Maduro as vice. But that’s the sort of thing that need to be in signed document, etc. There is a process in which the new vice is appointed and that needs to happen after jan 10th. There is also a process in which the president is appointed. If the current one is inconvenient it should be changed. There is also a process for those changes.

          • “If Chavez appears 15 days after, then he shall be appointed President. But in the meantime it is up the president of the AN to preside.”

            This is funny, because you just pulled that out of your ass. The constitution doesn’t say anything of the sort. In fact, the only time the president of the AN would preside is in case of an “absolute absence” which is clearly not the case here.

          • You continue with your useless insulting rhetoric.

            Ultimately the decision has to be told by the supreme court. They haven’t said a thing. In 2008 they did.

            There is no support that in front of a temporary absence the AN president should be appointed, but there isn’t any constitutional support for Maduro to remain as vice. To me, and this is Rodrigo Linares’s opinion, what makes more sense is that the AN president should be in charge under the arguments I have listed. The extension of the presidential term and to have Maduro to run things as vice would a violation the constitution.

          • Given that the primary purpose of a vice-president it to replace the president (I can’t believe I have to explain this) and given that he’s NEVER elected by the people, I don’t see why the fact that he wasn’t elected this time would make any difference.

            Again, you’re just looking for a problem where there clearly isn’t one.

          • Capriles shift on this issue is quite telling. I think his strategists have decided the longer they have to delay new elections the better his chances. So I think your analysis GAC is a bit off the mark. Capriles has been saying for weeks that “the constitution shows the way” and being cheeky about it, not actually saying how he felt the constitution should be interpreted. If anything Capriles is moving toward Miguel’s strategy. Delay, delay, delay. Let Chavez literally rot on life support until even the machines cannot keep him going.

          • If the vice president from the previous term carries over to the new one, why did Chavez re-appoint a vice president after being sworn in 2007? Does he not understand the constitution as well as you do?

      • Moraima, I am afraid I am guilty of not having followed the whole thing close enough. I don’t quite know what is the MUD proposal.

        Read on and tell me if it is similar to how I see the situation.

        I see two issues:

        1) Can the 10 of January be postponed?
        2) What is REALLY the President’s health?

        In my view, the second point is more important than the 1st. We need to know if the President has not died and what is going on because that would give the basis for a continuous absence or not.

        As for the 1st one, if Capriles had been President and he falls from a mountain and has to stay in bed until after the 10 of January, he is still the elected President. I don’t see that just because he cannot present himself the 10 there should be new elections. On the other hand, we must know that this is not an indefinite condition, that’s why I say that the real important point is number 2) above, not number 1).

        • Thanks for answering Bruni, this is getting so mudded that it looks “cantinflero” to say the least. The only difference is the the MUD is not saying that elections should be called on January 10th if Chavez does not appear. That would be against the will of the people. But what can’t happen is that the 10th comes and goes and nothing happens and Maduro continues acting as vicepresident.
          It’s true the constitution makes it confusing, but at least provides some directions. What the Mud is saying: by proximity in the spirit of the law use the figure of the president of the AN taking over in case of temporary ausence of the elected president and give up to 180 days for the elected president to come back. Diosdado would be temporary president. If after 180 days the president is still unable to come back then elections are called.
          Another option mentioned around is that on January 10th if Chavez is unable to swear in, gather the medical board to certifiy if this is temporary or permanent and get the TSJ to determine who takes over depending on the case (AN president if permanent that we know, we don’t know for sure who in case of temporary, I would think the AN President, but they might really interpret whatever they want, it would be debatable but not directly ilegal)

          BUT what most opposition considers unconstitutional is the continuity of Vice-Presidente and all ministers as if a new term is not in place. So on January 10th they will do nothing at all? Not even a debate over the issue? To me it seems that the dauphins are already proving they can’t manage the “art” of breaking the constitution while covering things with a thin patina of legality, art that was one of HFC’s most superb skills. And it is showing that for them only Chavez death will be considered an inhabilitation, he could be in coma or who know how for months? That’s the crazy part. The constitution establishes timeframes (very clear) to avoid vacuum of power and confusion, but these people just dont’ care.
          Surprisingly that doesn’t seem to be what Chavez last time whe heard from him ( That makes me wonder what is really going on in Cuba and among themselves.

          • The President of the AN doesn’t take possession in case of temporary absences, the vice president does. And Chavez did not say anything about a strict interpretation of the January 10th date. He says if he is unable to assume his new term then new elections should be called, but that doesn’t mean he is saying he must assume on a specific date, as even the constitution allows for “motivos sobrevenidos”.

            If he cannot assume within the 180 days allowed by the constitution, then it would have to be declared an absolute absence and the president of the AN takes over until new elections are called.

          • Unless, of course, before the 180 days his condition is such that it is declared an absolute absence.

          • So it appears, failing the declaration of a “falta absoluta” (which would based on the conditions set forth in article 233), the TSJ will have to make the call, as the constitution is not clear.

            However, it’s even possible that should Chavez remain outside the country for 180 days (or even 90 if the AN doesn’t renew the “falta temporal), then a “falta absoluta” would still not necessarily be declared, as article 234 leaves that decision up to the AN.

            How long could that last? I suppose as long as the AN wants it to, no? In theory, then, Chavez could be president for his entire term without being heard from or seen in Venezuela.

            Why not just be upfront and forthright about the President’s health?

        • Bruni, I differ with your analysis. I guess it depends on the framework. If we are talking about what would make more sense than making the 10th an absolute date, then you’d be right. It would make more sense as per your example using Capriles. But if we’re talking about what the constitution establishes, then making more sense is irrelevant; the question becomes whether the constitution establishes an absolute date. And it does, as per my comment above to Godgiven2013.

  22. We know that Saddam Hussein had at least one double. I would not be surprised that the Castro brothers have put some effort into finding and training a double for Thugo. If Thugo makes a public appearance in the future that is outside the confines of a coffin, odds are we will be seeing a Castro brothers-created double of Thugo.

    chiguire,/i>, I have also heard that story about LBJ and the relationship with pigs, but the way I remember it, LBJ was telling a story about a county sheriff pulling the trick in an attempt to get reelected, not LBJ using the trick himself. Not that LBJ was above pulling the trick himself- it is certainly consistent with his no-holds-barred approach to politics.

    Given the lack of transparency on Thugo’s health the last year and a half, declaring that he is dead – thus demanding proof that he is not- is fair play.

    Re the recent posting of Get a Clue,/i>, a.k.a. Chris Carlson: had Capriles been elected in October and was for health reasons unable to assume office on January 10, Get a Clue,/i>, a.k.a. Chris Carlson, would have been one of the first to DEMAND that the Constitution be followed and that elections be held ASAP. Considering the effort that Get a Clue,/i>, a.k.a. Chris Carlson, puts into posting here, I hope that Chavismo is paying hims with dollars for all his efforts. Only a fool would do such gratis.

  23. Just to comment on the way the discussion has developed, let me note the obvious: my post isn’t really about Art. 231 at all.

    In the Richter Scale of earth-shakingly bizarre constitutional interpretations, the way they’re mangling 231 is maybe a magnitude 5.2 or 5.3 or something. That’s a far cry from the Haitian style devastation they’ve wrought on Article 272, or the Tohoku Earthquake-Tsunami that hit Article 328, closely followed by the Fukushima Dai Ichi scale meltdown in Articles 144 and 254.

    In reality I can almost imagine a non-insane cast of mind where their interpretation of 231 might make sense to someone. It’s just that coming from the same political movement that’s devastated so much of the rest of the constitutional order, it lacks verisimilitude somehow.

    • Right, so now that you realize that your interpretation of Art. 231 is downright stupid, you back away and seek to focus on the other articles that you mention. But the truth is that your interpretation of many of those is just as stupid as your interpretation of 231, often based on unverified claims, or your own biased views.

      I don’t claim that the government has a completely clean record, but its also not nearly how you attempt to paint it, day in and day out, without even a hint of objectivity.

      • It takes a monumental leap of idiocy to say that the post was only about Art. 231. It’s clear that the secrecy surrounding Chavez’ health is in violation of the constitution itself (Section 28) and that ultimately it is impossible to logically and consistently implement Art. 231 since the people aren’t being allowed to know if it’s being implemented consistently or not! The comment about Art. 231 alone wouldn’t be a big deal, but in combination of all of the other flagrant violations of the constitution, it becomes clear that they don’t give a shit. Be happy, fascist Cabello is about to take over, and won’t call elections until Chavez literally rots on life support. Court Green doesn’t feel very happy about that though.

    • Allow me to channel some man-crush and tell you, Toro, holmes, if you were to write a book, i would buy it in a heartbeat!

  24. The will of the people??
    Can you remember the referendum that would have allowed Chavez to run for president indefinitely? It was voted down by the will of the people. Yet Chavez subverted it against the will of the people. It is time to respect the will of the people and have a new election.

    • Yep, do you remember when the people voted on a simpler version of the referendum that was just about removing term limits? Do you remember what the result was?

      • So, we enter Maduro’s Doctrine again here: “Whenever we lose an election, we will just do more elections until we manage to win one and get our way” haha. Your arguments make me laugh.

        On the other hand, GAC, I completely agree with Moraima Garcia’s comment above. In my opinion, Diosdado should handle the presidency until an absolute or temporary absence of Hugo is determined. The problem with this solution is what you say, that the president of the AN is only allowed to take over in the case of an Absolute absence. On the other hand, Maduro taking over the presidency could be another solution, but bypasses that he hasn’t been sworn in as vice president for the 2013 – 2019 term. It isn’t a good solution for the problem either, as I think you will agree.

        So, which way is right or wrong? I really don’t know. In any case, I believe that given the nature of the problem, the right thing to do is to automatically call for a medical junta that can determine whether it is an absolute or temporary absence and take the necessary measures after that. Waiting for 150 more days to do that, without a sworn in president is not right.

        • Agreed, the constitution is not clear one way or the other. Toro is also right that we should not trust at all someone like Maduro to interpret the constitution for us.

          It is clear that a medical board should be called in the case of a absent chronically sick president.

          But now that I think about it, I’ve gotten too caught up arguing semantics with GAC. In reality, delaying elections is a great think for the opposition. The closer Venezuela gets to a fiscal correction, the better. Let Maduro devalue and cut spending.

        • So your argument is that once the people have voted on something, even if it was immersed in a long list of other things, they should never be able to vote on that same thing ever again? That’s brilliant.

          Why don’t you just admit that you don’t like what the people decided, and so you are searching for a way to say that the people’s decision should never have been allowed..

      • So, what about honesty?
        “El presidente venezolano comentó que ya se encuentra redactando el proyecto para la reelección indefinida del primer mandatario de la República, el cual será llevado a consulta popular.
        “El pueblo verá, es el pueblo el que va a tomar la decisión, porque aquí no se puede hacer nada de eso si el pueblo no lo apoya”.
        Hugo Chávez destacó que si su proyecto es rechazado entonces por el pueblo, él mismo sería el primero en aplaudir la decisión, y si fuera aceptado, también en celebrarlo, puesto que en Venezuela “la revolución bolivariana no depende solo de un hombre”, sino del pueblo.”
        Chávez was already sick, sick of power.

  25. For me, the questions are: why can’t Chavez make it here on the 10th? What does he have? Will he be able to be president for the next 6 years? Because, if the elected president is at death’s gate, shouldn’t we call for elections? If he is in a comma, shouldn’t we call for elections? Now, if the president is in fact slowly but steadily recovering ( from what? We don’t know) we should call temporary leave, right? How long will we give Chavez to be at his 100% before we actually face the need to have the head if state present. 3 months? 6 months? 1 year. The people chose Chavez, not Maduro. (Spelling probably sucks as this was written from my phone, apologies)

    • Adriana, I totally agree with you. It is exactly what I just wrote above in response to Moraima. The most important issue is the President’s health.

  26. Well you are all wrong in some aspect. Telesur just ran an interview, live, with Hermann Escarrá and the Procuradora General, Cilia Flores. They both said that Chavez does not have to be sworn in on January 10th since he is President reelecto and not a candiado electo. As President reelecto he already has a government, symbolos of power and has been proclaimed President by the CNE in October to serve, based on the will of the peop0le, from 2013 -2019.

    He already has a legal and unanimous permission from the AN to be out of the country for more than 5 days for medical reasons (Art. 235), there fore this is not a temporary or absolute absence. He can be sworn in before the TSJ when he returns.

    At the end of the day anyone who has doubts about this can ask the TSJ for a ruling which is what the opposition needs to do. As the maximum arbiter of the law and consitution in Venezuela the TSJ has the final word on this matter even thjoug other juristas may not agree.

    So. nothing will happen on Jan 10th of Chavez does not go the the AN.

    In addition, as Chavez is Prsident relecto he already has all the ministers and the Executive Vice President who will run the country while he is in Cuba with permission form the AN.
    ThePresident of the AN only takes over on the case of a tremporary or absolute absence and this is NOT the case at the moment thanks to the unanimous permission granted by the AN on December 9th.

    So Quci – so much for your bullshit Madurq Doctrine…..jajajajajaja. I prefer the Cilia-Hermann Doctrine.

    The offshoot of being proved wrong is that parts of the opposition are now calling for a parao civico to protest. I see trouble ahead as the militia bolivariana is called out on to the street to stop hoarding and speculation.

    Such democrats the opposition – 2002 here we go for a possible replay!

    • Hermann Escarra, brinca-talanquera, angling for a position on the Chavista TSJ, and Cilia Flores Maduro–A real Joya of a Doctrine. Militia: Rodllla en tierra: Load, Aim, FIRE!!! “Remember the April 11”–Load, Aim, FIRE!!!

      • In order to clarify your gross ignorance – the Bolivarin Militia did not exist in 2002. We will see who is right on this january 10th controversery and I prefer to bet on Escarrá and Flores than an ignoramnus shit like you.

        • Please clarify “ignoramnus”. “Remember the Alamo” was used decades after the actual event, by all sorts of “militias.” Too much, I know, “Arturo”, too much!

    • The vice president term also ends January 10th, also the minsters, they have to be named or ratified by the president for the new term, there’s no “continuation” that’s some bullshit these thugs are trying to sneak.

    • “Well you are all wrong in some aspect. Telesur just ran an interview, live, with Hermann Escarrá and the Procuradora General, Cilia Flores. They both said that Chavez does not have to be sworn in on January 10th since he is President reelecto and not a candiado electo.”

      So the government line is now literally: Capriles would have to be sworn in on the 10th
      for sure. Chávez, though? Naaaa.


  27. The money quote “El Vicepresidente Nicolás Maduro, quién prefirió no dar declaraciones, comentó en una entrevista días atrás que la toma de posesión del 10 de enero era un “formalismo” y no había obligación para que un Gobierno obtuviese legitimidad sin cumplir este protocolo. “No chico, esos son formalismos. Es más, casi todas las leyes son formalismos. Simplemente hay que saber detectar cuáles son y cuáles no. Por ejemplo, ‘técnicamente’ yo dejo de ser Vicepresidente este 10 de enero, ¿pero en verdad ustedes creen que dejaré el cargo? Pffff, pues no. Pero eso sí, si alguien me quiere pedir unos dólares deben cumplir con cada uno de los formalismos establecidos. ¡Así son las leyes!” Im starting to think the people behind El Chiguire and CC are the same…

  28. Quico: One small typo: it’s “parish”, not “parrish.” Also, I probably would have translated “consejos parroquiales” como “parochial councils.”

      • Article 182 speaks of “Juntas Parroquiales.” I would have translated that as “Parochial Councils”–just like a “vícaro parroquial” is a “parochial vicar.” As syd correctly points out, parochial has two meanings, one of which is the one that you mentioned. However, “Parish Councils” is a perfectly acceptable alternative.

        Now, with my pedantic translation comments out of the way, let me thank you for such an excellent piece. You are correct that outside observers don’t appreciate how much Chavismo is a “cafeteria” constitutional regime. The perception of many is that the regime abides by the constitution, which, after all, they drafted all by themselves!

  29. There is in the Constitution no reference to a relected president, only to a president elect , the disctinction is absolutely spurious , a president is elected for a given term and according to past supreme tribunal decisions such term cannot be extended for any reason , If the president is reelected then he is for all legal purposes president for a new period and must go through the juramentacion process just as would be the case for any other new president elect , if he doesnt go through this juramentacion then he lacks the authority to exercise the powers of his office , the high officials he has appointed in his past presidency require to be reappointed in order to assumme their functions , if the president elect does not so reappoint them they automatically lose their jobs at the end of the presidential term in which they started to serve. This points the way towards Mr Cabello being named as interim president if Mr Chavez is unable to take part in the juramentacion process for Mr Maduro’s powers would have lapsed . If the regime is making such a huge deal of calling on the faithful to pray for the survival of Mr Chavez its because he is very ill and the assumption can be made that he is incapacitated to assumme the office of president, whether this incapacitation is permanent or transitory is something which the Asamblea must determine by promptly calling on a Medical Commitee to ascertain this fact without delay . I dont see any reason for the opposition to prefer Mr Maduro over Mr Cabello to replace Mr Chavez during this apparently lethal illness so the only reason to object to the regimes current misinterpretations is respect for the Constitution and nothing else. Of course the regime can always call on a supliant Supreme Tribunal to ‘interpret’ things the way they want, but this does not alter the validity of the reading of the Constitution which some prominent members of the Oppositions legal team have made public.

  30. It would seem to me that the broader latin community (Brasil, Uruguay etc) are not being given enough credit as an abritrator in all this. Brasil, Uruguay et al are keenly aware that they will likely need to play a role in terms of a “moral suasion” to keep everyone within the spirit of the constitution…the last thing Brasil wants is for this thing to spin out of control into unmanageable chaos where the international community sidesteps Brasil and has to step in…..for instance, I am keenly interested in watching the reaction to Mujica’s advertised trip to see Chavez next week..I think the Cuban’s/Maduro will find it much more difficult to keep Chavez’s condition a secret from the regions power brokers and if Chavez is as sick as everyone thinks, you will see tremendous pressure starting to be applied on the current powers that be in Miraflores to resolve the situation through new elections, which is the only reasonable longer term outcome if Chavez is as bad off as everyone thinks. There is no way Brasil will sit on the sidelines as a disinterested party after all their efforts to gain recognition as a global player and let this go the dogs in their own backyard.

    • Good point… Sit and wait to see what Dilma and Pepe have to say. Though surely Rafael and Evo could pitch in too. In fact, I imagine the two or three ALBA countries that matter would have similar concerns to those of Brazil and Uruguay.

  31. Monday morning quarterback = One who criticizes or passes judgment from a position of hindsight.

    Jan 10’s the day. – business as usual? Hair’s the encargado? or what? any forecasters betting on the outcome?

      • CNE Independence. Formality
        Artículo 294. Los órganos del Poder Electoral se rigen por los principios de independencia orgánica, autonomía funcional y presupuestaria, despartidización de los organismos electorales, imparcialidad y participación ciudadana; descentralización de la administración electoral, transparencia y celeridad del acto de votación y escrutinios.

        Non partisan members of the CNE. A formality (Two of the are/ere registered in the PSUV) Formality
        Artículo 296. El Consejo Nacional Electoral estará integrado por cinco personas no vinculadas a organizaciones con fines políticos; tres de ellos o ellas serán postulados o postuladas por la sociedad civil, uno o una por las facultades de ciencias jurídicas y políticas de las universidades nacionales, y uno o una por el Poder Ciudadano.

    • I think the list of articles NOT violated so far would be rather shorter. Incidentally, my only disagreement with you, Quico, is that you attribute the authorship of the doctrine to Nicolas Maduro. When you were looking for the article that outlines which of the others are mere formalities, you overlooked Art. 2. The one that says Venezuela is an Estado democratico y social de Derecho y de Justicia. That weaselly phrase – as someone (I seem to recall it being Gerardo Blyde) pointed out at the time – allows for ANY of the other articles, along with any law of the republic, to be interpreted in line with ‘Justice’ instead of ‘Law’. Like beauty, of course, justice is in the eye of the beholder. In this case, that small sub-set of beholders who happen to hold the political, military and economic power and control all the organs of state.

      • You want to know an interesting fact? That thing about the estado de Justicia was included under the suggestion of Allan Brewer-Carías! of all people. And you are right, is has been the basis for many of the most shameful decisions of the TSJ. If you want a very comprehensive work about this, read La Idea de Derecho en la Constitución de 1999 by Francisco Delgado, a Philosophy of Law Professor. He exposes the ideological contradictions and shortcomings of the 1999 Constitution like the estado de justicia and the poder moral.

        • I didn’t – and that’s fascinating. I think it would be interesting to look at the diario de debates of the constituent assembly for the discussion of Art. 2. Does it have any precedents elsewhere in the world? where did ABC get it from?

          • I think ot was a last minute suggestion by ABC. There are no precedents from what I know. The definition of “estado social de derecho” was taken from the Spanish Constitution and the justicia definition added at the last minute.

    • There’s another little detail worth bearing in mind with regard to the ‘which articles are mere formalities’ debate. I believe there is jurisprudence from the TSJ quite early on in the life of the 1999 constitution which makes it clear that you can’t go to the courts to enforce your right to stuff like ‘decent housing’ (Art. 82). That is just an abstract expression of good intentions, not a legally enforceable right. Thus a whole swathe of articles dealing with social and economic rights etc. is simply relegated to the category of ornamental verbiage.

      • The jurisprudence has been touch and go on this subject. But the extinct CSJ did ordered the IVSS to provide antiretroviral drugs for HIV positive citizens in 1998 and this jurisprudence has been followed by the TSJ. But there is a lot of contradiction in the jurisprudence here and in many other countries whereas to social rights are enforceable.
        The funny thing about the TSJ is that they come up with shameful arguments to deny the application of very express, textual and easily enforceable constitutional norms (Proportional representation, supraconstitutionality of human right treaties, due process, property, constitutional reforms and amendments, )

    • I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Of all the things you could pick to criticize Maduro, there is no reason at all to jump directly to the one that paints you like a total asshole…other than, you know, being a total…

      • Francisco,
        You are right. Wat I meant to say-
        Maduro is only one of many qualified Chavez sycophants capable of continuing the ongoing ruination of Venezuela’s economy and gifting of sovereignty to Cuban dictators.

        Caracas bus drivers are a hard-working ethical group. I do not want to demean them with an undeserved association to Maduro.

  32. I desire that venezuelan people demonstrate courage to start a new age of democracy with this chavismo’s crisis.

    Don’t give up, venezuelan people! Fight for democracy again and again until final victory!!!

    From Brazil with hope.

  33. Quico:

    We don’t know what Hugo Chavez health condition is. That is, to legally determine whether his absence is just temporary or definitive. To legally determine if he shall ever be fit again to be President (physically, character-wise he is hopeless).

    He is obviously not, now. According to the half-truths released by his acolytes. If they are even half-truths. For all we know he could be healthy and running around CIMEQ, or stone cold dead.

    Isn’t somebody legally answerable, nay LIABLE FOR PROSECUTION FOR THIS SITUATION? I won’t wave the word Treason around, but…

    Some doctors (as yet unidentified, in Cuba) know what Chavez condition is. Also, Cuban intelligence agents. Fidel and Raul Castro. Most probably Diosdado Cabello, Nicolas Maduro, Jorge Arreaza and Ernesto Villegas among other public charges.

    Their not informing, indeed their obfuscation DOES prevent the TSJ, the Asamblea Nacional and the CNE from ever taking the appropriate action and preventing any crisis on January 10.

    Indeed in a normal country a commission with physicians would be dispatched to Cuba, or the treating physicians would be asked to issue a full report. Incredibly enough, our TSJ and Asamblea Nacional don’t even bother. In a normal country these reports would have been public long ago to allow experts to contribute their opinion, and to let the public know about the deliberations that NOT being done by the TSJ and AN about the matter.

    But no, the vanity of one man, the brown-nosing nature of others and a treasonous protection of the colonialist interests of another country holding him hostage combine to produce the perfect storm. Chavismo is a rather cuckolded cult if chavistas are happy to be had this way.

    • I for my part have decided that after January 10, Hugo Chavez is the LATE President of Venezuela. Dead. For all effects. And would call him that to anybody hearing until further proof is presented that he is alive. For all I know he was killed by the Castros using carbon monoxide. Can’t really know.

  34. The regime has made a gret teary collective spectable of praying for Mr Chavez dire health , they have held masses , rallies , open prayer meetings, given reports all suggesting that he is at deaths door bravely fighting to survive an illness which is known to be by all accounts extremely incapacitating if not lethal. Mr Chavez himself before he left for Cuba made clearly known to every one that he was going to undergo very severe medical treatment in a fight to save his life against a spreading cancer , he made dramatic gestures of desperations and even annointed Mr Maduro as his succesor if he died , references abound among his followers for the need for a miracle , If after close to a month of dissapearing from view we havent heard from him ( a man not known for keeping long silent) and he remains absent at the act which marks the start of his new presidency, the compelling assumption must be made that he is in fact incapacitated and thus according to the constitution that someone must take his place while medical team is appointed to ascertain whether his incapacitation is permanent or temporary , His incapacity although likely to be permanent according to what is known or suggested about the nature and gravity of his illness ( even from official sources) may be temporary , thus the need to urgently appoint that medical team to determine how likely is he to make a recovery that will allow him to actually exercise the offices of president during the next period , It is therefore not credible nor believable for the regime to make believe that he is not legally incapacitated until a medical team which they make no attempt at appointing does not certify it , the medical report is needed to ascertain his condition but its examiniation of the president elect will not change his state of health. Unless this whole spectacle of the presidents illness is not a gross farce, then it is the duty of the regime to appoint that medical team and to take such steps as will determine the degree of his incapacitation and prepare to designate the person which the constitution provides must succeed him as acting president until he either gets better, becomes permanently mentally incapacitated or dies . The regimes silly dilly dallying about this very important issue is both baffling and irresponsable .

  35. Does anyone here know if the TSJ has ever ruled against the chavernment on a constitutional issue, or struck down legislation?

  36. >>> … Now, it’s probably because I’m not a lawyer, but I have some difficulty with this. I’ve read the constitution carefully …

    His followers have PLEDGED PERSONAL allegiance to the convalescing leader. The constitution, like the catholic catechism, has little relevance in this here and now. Thumping the constitution as if it is the written word is an exercise in futility. As you say – it’s all a formality. The constituted constitution is just an adornment to be worn around the neck along with the cross. Cursi, but entirely irrelevant.

  37. Here’s how I look at it (without having to get into the whole constitutional debate/debacle):
    Close your eyes and picture this:
    A very popular politician (let’s call him Gordito) wins an election in October, Gordito is scheduled to begin his new term as president in January. In late November Gordito is out on a hike with his daughters, his VP and all his ministers. During this hike something happens to Gordito, only the people who were with him on this hike know exactly what happened to him, the rest of the country only knows it’s bad enough that he will need surgery. Gordito sends a request to the National Assembly to go have surgery in another third world country where legend says medicine is amazing even though no one from any other country in the world goes there to get treatment.
    Gordito disappears for a month, no one knows what’s wrong with him, how did the surgery go? We get some information saying he’s critical but he’ll be ok. The people who tell us he’s fine are the same people who benefit the most by him being fine. On top of that there’s a constitution that is open to discussion on how to proceed if Gordito is not around on a specific date.
    Wouldn’t all this BS be solved if Gordito comes on TV and gives everyone a thumbs up and tells us he’s ok? That he’ll be back soon to continue to solve all our problems?
    You can open your eyes now.
    I don’t think it’s disingenuous to ask that we get validation that the guy is ok and well enough from people who don’t benefit from him being ok. If Ripe/Hair want to be president then let them run and win, this “I will be president until I the secret gets out” shit is not ok.

  38. Wow 229 comments. Don’t recall this many since the referendum…. or was it 2002? On a lighter note, Bocaranda tweeted something along the lines of the constitution has been interpreted whereas Chavez can be sworn in in 3 years…….from Mars.

  39. Francisco Toro, I’m reminded of a post you wrote about hard and soft articles of the constitution years ago. Good stuff.

  40. I thought it was pants actually. The best you can do in such a critical period? And you really want to be taken serously?? Pants pants pants. HEY any other hack or random researcher thinking you iz going to get any info at this site, Devils Excrement is the place to be. Excellent piece on Falcon as candidate and Maduro having the charisma of a stone – which all of those who think Chavez is a snuggly bunny would sadly agree with. But it aint the Constitution stupid. I think all you naughty pro and anti Chavistas are going to be a huggin and a cuddlin under a unified Falcon candidacy shortly. So lets share that love and make a new start for 2013.

  41. It appears that the Maduro doctrine has some jurisprudence behind it. Look at Gaceta 351.848 of January 8th, 2007, where Chávez names his cabinet for the new term 2 days before taking the oath of office. How come none of our brilliant opposition legal experts realized that we had an unconstitutional cabinet for 6 years? Could this perhaps be because they knew that the swearing ceremony was a formality?

    • Of course they knew it was a formality, because anyone with even the slightest common sense knows that it is a formality. But it is totally fine with me if they all want to keep this nonsense argument going for as long as possible. It will just further discredit them both nationally and internationally.

      • Divulging the health state of your head of state is not a formality. It’s demanded by the constitution as without that information it is impossible to know if the constitution is being implemented consistently. It may be true that the Jan. 10 date can be skirted in an extraordinary scenario, but it also triggers a lot of questions as to why it must be delayed.

        And the fact of the matter is those questions are not being answered.

        • chavistas (*) and oppos want to know the health state of their President, as provided by someone with credibility. That credible information is not being provided. The will of the people is being disrespected.

          Case in point .. A twitter feed reveals a chavista (with his username — full name — not disclosed, in order to protect him from the marauding SEBIM) calling for Dr. Marquina, as follows:

          amigo dr soy del partido de gobierno pero mis camaradas no dan informacion de credibilidad informenos usted lo q sepa

      • A lawyer will tell you that swearing an oath is not a ‘formality’. The act of swearing an oath has a legal effect. Many of the readers here will have had to swear oaths of one type or other. So your point about common sense is not so common.

        All I can say is the Venezuelan constitution probably is not the greatest constitution in the world after all.

    • Godgiven2013, I think you may be misusing the word jurisprudence. That aside, precedence is not set by default, an event must have been challenged in court for it to count as a precedent.

      As to the cabinet being unconstitutional, that’s the least of it; the opposition has realized that chavez’s whole tenure has been unconstitutional since his lack of swearing during his first take of office.

  42. It’s clear that these Presidential hijackers, the Castros who hide Hugo Chavez, Maduro, Cabello, and the select few who know about Hugo Chavez’s condition shall never produce anything like a medical report. This information is in all likelihood too dangerous, for it can allow us, the public, to conclude that Hugo Chavez can never be President, because his health (gravelly ill, probably dying and in coma, possibly dead) forbids it.

    It’s also clear that the same hijackers will do as they please on January 10, 2013. Whatever. In a sane nation the aforementioned medical report would have dispelled most doubts, and tranquilized the government supporters and opposition alike. In a sane nation the very act of hiding this information from the Supreme Court, National Assembly and the public would carry criminal charges, and could even be treasonous, particularly given the connivance with a foreign government. Their prevarication of 90 days + 90 days + “we do whatever we feel like” hinges on nothing being known publicly.

    It’s clear that the Trollibarians commenting here and in other forums shall never help with this. They are very happy being deceived and led by the nose by Maduro, Cabello and the Castros.

    In view of all of this…

    Let us consider the President to be Absent: Missing, Kidnapped, Presumed Dead. Formerly under treatment by an unknown medical team of unknown qualifications on the orders and reporting to a foreign regime and to co-conspirators.

    That is, until further proof of life and faculties is made public. Until the situation is clarified.

    • The saddest part is that while I do not think that Chavez is officially dead, I think he’s on life support, and his family is being manipulated into keeping him on life support. If so the mind games that they must be enduring must be incredible. Anyone whose family member is in that state would want a second opinion, would want to know full details, all the while the Cubans would be waving their hands and dismissing their questions as too early to tell or whatever, all the while saying he has a chance to recover.

      It may actually come to it that the family is the one that breaks the news, or at least is responsible for it coming to an end (pressure on the Cubans, which push them to pull the plug and scramble to announce in the controlled manner that they’ve specialized in for decades).

      • The Cuban apparatchiks will not allow any Chávez family member to interfere with its controlling interests and mantra: create a state of uncertainty and instability. I’ll say no more.

  43. The regimes position is baffling, Mr Cabello and Maduro as both brothers in arms, vociferous in the display of their mutual solidarity , from a political angle it shouldnt matter whether one or the other takes over as interim president while the president elects condition is verified by a medical team , The constitution read coherently and as per past Supreme Tribunal decisions should make Mr Cabello the interim president , why not allow it?. There is no doubt from the regimes own actions that it factually considers the president elect incapacitated by his very delicate illness, his absence on the jan 10th act of investiture would only confirm it , so why not go ahead and appoint a medical team to ascertain whether he is actually incapacitated and to what degree , why is this so scandalously seditious ?? If the president elect is temporarily incapacitated then the interim president Mr Cabello can take his place until Mr Chavez gets better or dies and triggers a new election . If Mr Maduro would stand as candidate in accordance with Mr Chavez wishes , according to the regimes supporters he is sure to win , so why create such a fuzz with the possibility of Mr Chavez , being actually incapacitated by his ilness and triggering an election which Mr Maduro will win. It doesnt make sense.!! are they so hungry for confrontation and violence that they must create a situation that fosters it in order to histrionically blandish the purity of their revolutionary credentials?

    • It makes sense when 2 potentially conflicting forces (political and military) hold approximately equal power, and need each other in the short term in order to survive. So, the binary star system of Venezuelan politics is born out of the black void of Chavez’s absence.

  44. An article without any gravel. Not even in constitutional law readings I had not learned so much! Thank you so much indeed Your Highness Francisco (“Your Highness” it’s just a formalism)

  45. Un articulazo sin ripio alguno. ¡Ni siquiera en las clases de Derecho Constitucional aprendí tanto! Gracias Don Francisco (el Don es sólo formalismo)


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