¿Por qué?

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Coming to 1.5 million billboards, one near you.

Those looking at Venezuela’s hot mess from the outside can be excused for wondering: what’s the big deal?

Let’s recap: the opposition wants a temporary absence declared and for Diosdado Cabello to hold office for up to 180 days, in accordance with the Constitution. Chavismo wants no changes- Chávez is President, and Maduro is the caretaker. The opposition rightly says that Maduro cannot hold power after January 10th because he is no longer VicePresident, and if that happens it’s a coup.

I’m sure many foreigners -even our Venezuela-bashing pal Marco Aurelio García – are wondering what the big deal is. Maduro, Cabello, they’re all chavistas, right? Why does the opposition care so much? Why should we sweat over which chavista gets the sash? They probably couldn’t tell them apart in a police lineup (entertain that thought for a while…).

There are several potential answers to this question.

The one most being talked about is “because that’s what the Constitution says.” If we let this one go, goes the thinking, there is no telling what they will try to screw us with. Quite possibly we will see something along the lines of “the people exercise sovereignty, they elected Chávez, so the PSUV should rule forever.” The violation of constitutional rules is too important an issue to turn a blind eye to.

There is another, more tactical reason: if Cabello holds power, this puts the two strands within chavismo – inasmuch as they exist – in direct confrontation with each other. This theory holds that Cabello and Maduro are the heads of two clans that don’t really like each other, and are simply waiting for the chance to stab the other in the back.

I don’t really think either answer is satisfactory.

To me, the real reason is the incumbent advantage. As many have pointed out – Javier Corrales did so recently – Latin Americans almost always vote for the incumbent. If Maduro is the incumbent, and if people warm up to him, his election will be that much easier.

But if Maduro is out of a job, it will be harder for people to identify him with the gifts and populist geschenks they will be getting from His Excellency Interim Pres. Diosdado Cabello.  It would simply be awkward for Cabello to be handing out apartments or clothes washers with Maduro at his side. Imagine the people – who do they thank? Who do they suck up to?

That, from where I see things, is the crux of the matter. Maduro wants the glow of the Presidency to make him a better campaigner, and he is willing to screw the Constitution to get it.

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  1. I disgree with your first sentence on your recap. “” The opposition wants a temporary absence declared and for Diosdado Cabello to hold office for up to 180 days…” The Constitution states that!!! The oppo wants the Constitution to be applied rightfully. In any case we’re SO screwed.

  2. Another theory: Chavismo will not acknowledge any type of absence of Chavez (be it temporary or definitive) because either type leads to new elections down the road. They will not accept that Chavez only has 6 months to get back. They want to keep his “therapy” indefinite so as to delay the onset of elections as much as posible

    • See, that would make sense if we were in 2003 and the economy was doing badly and they needed time for it to recover, buoying their electoral prospects with it. But the opposite is true: six months from now, a year from now, their electoral prospects are clearly worse than they would be right now.

      • There’s not going to be another election. At least not a legitimate one. Do you think the charisma-less Maduro or Godgiven will call for elections? This is the endgame.

      • I don’t see how that is clear at all. Think how many thousands of houses will be built by the end of this year. That’s the main driver of the economy, and started long before the first complex was inaugurated.

        As Juan says, the longer Maduro heads the government, the more opportunity he has to visibly continue the same popular policies, and the easier it will be for people to accept him as leader.

  3. We should be wanting to know exactly what ails the President and where he is and how he is generally. For it’s kinda stupid to ask for a temporary absence for a “Desaparecido”. Missing in Therapy?

  4. I believe that they want to avoid the 180 days as to not have a deadline. They will remain in power until the feel that they are popular enough to win my a comfortable margin. Again, I think they should be doing the opposite but who knows. It is probably Castro’s advice, and you know how much they like elections.

    • Rodrigo I admire how you keep your cool around some people, who apparently finds everything hilarious but don’t seem to be able to go anywhere but keep pestering people here. I wonder if it’s really funny that the president might be dying and he doesn’t want to know more and he doesn’t worry about what happens if they keep delaying declaring even a temporary absence.
      The guy can’t sign a damn letter and we have to just wait for Maduro to tell us when it would be a good time to declare a temporary absence so the 180 days start counting? I am sorry but NO ONE has voted for Maduro for him to be making those decisions and after January 10th he will not even have the post of vice-president. I hate Cabello but he is the second most important elected official in the country so that’s who should be temporary president and if he wants he can re-confirm all the ministers and the vice-president. At this point I don’t even care if they get the TSJ to interpret things their way (against previous rulings) and declare Maduro can continue, but it should be under the figure of interim president, Chavez will have 180 days to come back if he can and if not elections are called. But having a headless state is so incredible negligent that is downright criminal.

  5. Hilarious!! After several days insisting “that’s what the constitution says!” You now admit that the opposition’s bullshit interpretation isn’t really about what the constitution actually says at all, that it is actually a “tactical” consideration, and that “the real reason is the incumbent advantage”.

    Yes, we already knew that.

    • It is the other way around. The reasons for Chavismo to blatantly ignore the constitution is tactical advantage.

      What do you think of the fact that Chavismo refuses to initiate a temporary absence?

      • Funny, in the same comment where you assert that Chavismo is doing this for tactical reasons, you also wonder why they haven’t actually done what you claim to be their strategy: put Maduro in office. Whoops!

        • What I think would be the wisest for Chavismo is to call for elections ASAP. Declare a permanent absence, put Cabello in charge and let Maduro go for elections while love for Chavez is still fresh. Where the poor judgment comes from? My guess is Cuba.

          What they chose to do, is to break the law, do a coup, and probably wait indefinitely for elections until a better time, if ever.

          • Let’s see here. First you say it is Chavismo’s strategy, but then you can’t figure out why they aren’t actually doing what you claim their strategy is, so you explain that by saying it is “poor judgement”. In other words, they apparently AREN’T carrying out that strategy, due to poor judgement.

            And to top it off, you claim that the reelected government assuming their next term is a “coup”. I’m not sure I’ve seen a more hilarious explanation anywhere…. but that’s what makes you guys so fascinating!!

          • I think you got really confused. Let’s recap.

            I do not share Chavismo current strategy as the one I would pursue. Reason? It is illegal. There are legal alternatives for Chavismo’s likely success that they chose not to follow (too risky?).

            The legal strategy would be:”o call for elections ASAP. Declare a permanent absence, put Cabello in charge and let Maduro go for elections while love for Chavez is still fresh. ”

            The illegal strategy would be:”Maduro is the incumbent, and if people warm up to him, his election will be that much easier” but to make Maduro the incumbent he basically gave Chavez a coup and it is claiming that he will remain in charge indefinitely.

            Yesterday you argued that Maduro should be in charge and to have 180 days in office. Have you been told to disagree with that now?

            My argument from yesterday remains.

          • “The legal strategy would be:”o call for elections ASAP. Declare a permanent absence, put Cabello in charge and let Maduro go for elections while love for Chavez is still fresh. ”

            Actually that would be illegal, since the current situation does not fit the requirements for an absolute absence. But hey, it wouldn’t be the first time you’ve had everything completely backwards.

            Maduro should be in charge in the event of a temporary absence, and Diosdado in the event of a permanent absence. The constitution could not be any clearer on that.

          • “Maduro should be in charge in the event of a temporary absence” .Let’s play along with that.

            Now do we agree that we are looking at a temporary absence? I have asked you 2 times now and all your comments avoid answering the question.

          • Yes, I believe it will have to be declared a temporary absence, but there is no explicit timeline on this. It has to be decided by the AN, which I expect they will do if Chavez’s recovery takes much longer.

          • Yes, this is what it comes down to. You are just desperate to get rid of the guy, and don’t want to give him time to recover. So you all have tried to interpret the constitution to fit your desires. Fine by me, just makes you all look ridiculous.

          • I think 180 days is more than enough for Chavez to show himself. A medical board will also shed light if he will eventually recover.

            How long are you willing to wait? 180 days? A year? Six? Indefinitely?

            Don’t mistake me. I had made my peace with the idea of Chavez for six more years. I believe that Chaverment’s performance in office is poor and a change is due. That’s my personally opinion. But people must want that. I don’t intend to impose it.

            Nor I want anyone imposing Maduro or Cabello or any other.

  6. Juan, I disagree, on both, the opposition and the government.

    The chavista government does not want Cabello because they do not like the idea of Cabello taking over.
    They do not care if it is Maduro or someone else, as long as it is not Cabello.

    The opposition is formally screaming against the Constitution violation but are secretly happy about the situation. If the President absence is declared, then new elections are coming and they are not ready for it. The current situation gives them time to organize.

  7. Let’s be honest. If the problem were that Maduro washers could not comfortably, I think it would be enough that Diosdado ratified as VP in plan “following the will of the comandante presidente await his return.”

    No, it’s clear that they do not intend to reconvene elections and try to perpetuate in power everything.

    Whatever, am I the only one who thinks those who say that we would do better with Diosdado that a healthy Chavez are pissing off pot? I mean, we all saw the disaster that left at Miranda…


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