VP Maduro: No inauguration on January 10th (Updated)


Minutes ago, the President of the National Assembly Diosdado Cabello just read a letter from Vice-President Nicolas Maduro, in which he indicates that President Hugo Chavez won’t attend the official inauguration of his third term of office (2013-2019), established to start on that specific date according to the Article 231 of the Venezuelan Constitution.

In the letter, Maduro informed that the formal swearing-in would be postponed to a later date and that it would be held in front of the Venezuelan Supreme Court (TSJ) instead.

UPDATE # 1: Information Minister Ernesto Villegas indicates via twitter that there will be a press conference of TSJ President Luisa Estela Morales tomorrow at 9 a.m. VP Maduro hinted earlier that the Supreme Court has the power to set a new date for a new inauguration.

UPDATE # 2: The Chavista majority in the National Assembly voted an agreement to give Chavez “…all the time he needs to take care of his condition”. The MUD deputies didn’t support this proposal.

UPDATE # 3: Vice-President Nicolas Maduro was not long ago on cadena nacional from the Miraflores Situation Room with the Cabinet and the Military Chiefs, including the Defense Minister. Looks like it was recorded earlier today. He repeated the contents of the letter he sent to the National Assembly and he’s doubling down on his interpretation of the Constitution. The military heads gave their full support (via video-conference) to Maduro.

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  1. Why the TSJ doesn’t go to Havana to swear him in is a mystery that can only be explained by one thing: fear of having anyone outside the President’s inner circle seeing him.

    • It’s not too late for that, JC, for one thing.

      For another, it is one thing what people inside Venezuela may think about the TSJ going to Cuba, and another what the US, Brazil et al may think about the legality of said swearing in.

      This confirms the play of the Temporal Absence for 90 days, renewable for 90 more.

      Maybe Chavez will be strong enough to come home in say, 2 weeks or so, then swear before the TSJ.

      • But Chávez has already used his “electronic signature” from Cuba, would it make a difference? (like they would be paying attention to such details anyway…) I tend to think he is not able to swear in.

      • Article 18 makes it clear that the City of Caracas is the seat if national authority, but that authority may be exercised elsewhere in Venezuela. The common legal principle “expressio unius est exclusio alterius” means that where one thing is expressed, other things not expressed are excluded. The idea that the Supreme Court could exercise its jurisdiction outside of Venezuela is excluded by this maxim of constitutional interpretation. Few things could be clearer. Outside of Venezuela, the “Supreme Court” is a collection of individuals with no legal authority. Presidents and kings are in a slightly different position in international law, but the tweeting of decrees by Chavez from his hideout in Cuba probably also have no legal effect.

  2. BTW, this should surprise no one. We all knew he wasn’t coming.

    Interestingly, it wasn’t Chávez who sent/wrote the letter, it was Maduro.

  3. Please note: this is a letter from Maduro, not Chavez. Chavez isn’t even capable of signing his own name, let alone tying his own shoelaces. We have no proof he even told Nicolas to say this. But this is the man the government says is running the affairs of state and attending to the duties of commander in chief. Seriously, este no es un pais serio.

  4. So Chavez is in full functions, but he cant sign a lousy letter. If anyone is surprised he deserves to be slapped in the face, with a wooden log.

  5. Don’t you just love the way they keep informing the people that the people are informed about Chavez in Caracas without actually telling them a damn thing? What ignorance.

    • Help me decide. Chavistas are really coming out of the closet with this one. I don’t know if the closet is Fascism, Blind Religious Faith or simple Serfdom. But they are coming out.

      They actually like ignorance when they could ask to be informed! It’s not so much about liking to be ordered about, man. It’s that they choose to remain blissfully ignorant of something they might want to know about that affects the country and them in it. And the chavista institutions likewise.

  6. Do you guys think they did this as a reaction to Capriles’ conference? Or was is planned?
    BTW, I really hate the chants…

    • They’ve known since, say December 14th or so that Chavez would not be back on the 10th JAN.

      Rather than state things in a straightforward manner, as in all things, they can’t help but be crooked. It’s in their DNA.

      • That’s why I’m wondering what made them announce it. I always thought they were going to wait for the 10h to announce anything, in their very crooked way. This and tomorrow’s conference from the TSJ makes me wonder if they had no option after being confronted.

    • Fanatics, whether Political (like these Fascists), Religious (If this isn’t adoration…) or Hooligans (based on their behavior in front of the AN…) need chants. The chant interferes with the brain actually working and beginning to ask questions as to… Why I am doing this and why am I not asking any questions?

    • Why don’t you tell us precisely the motives as to why Hugo Chavez is absent and unseen for a month now. If you know anything, that is… Do you ever wonder?

      • That interview was pretty funny. I liked his analogy with Barack Obama: See, Obama signed a decree (ok, it wasn’t a decree, but whatever) from Hawaii, see, and this is the same as Chavez signing stuff in Cuba, and…..

        Oh, never mind.

        • More like Obama signing a decree while interned in a Chinese “clinic” for an unspecified grave illness. Said clinic allows him to have no direct communication with the outside world, and has not released a single medical report, not even the names of treating physicians. Only a few select White House personnel say they have seen him and spoken to him.

          Incredibly enough neither Congress nor the Supreme Court have seen it necessary to empower the vicepresident, or to ask a single question about Obama’s condition.

          Sound mad enough? Not as mad as Venezuela.

    • Allow me to translate moron-o-matic above:

      “Why don’t you take a look at what a ” loyal to the highest bidder” attorney who helped DRAFT the “document Chavismo has pissed all over these last 14 years” has to say about the current “Temporary but likely to be absolute absence, yet chavismo true to their crooked DNA won’t admit to”

      http://www.thisnewspaperisachavistagovernmentrag.com, and it’s on the internets so it must be true!!
      Please, GAC, try to at least sound intelligent…..

        • “El vicepresidente queda en ejercicio de sus funciones así el presidente no esté juramentado porque se trata de un régimen especial de carácter temporal, por supuesto, pero que le permite la marcha del Estado, la conducción del Estado, el desarrollo de la actividad de gobierno, el desarrollo de la actividad político administrativa, que hasta ahora ha marchado como todos los venezolanos lo sabemos y lo estamos viviendo, sin ninguna inestabilidad. Por eso hay que rechazar con mucha claridad cualquier tesis sobre el vacío de poder, porque no existe ningún vacío de poder. Lo que ha habido es una situación sobrevenida que está en el marco de la Constitución y que la Constitución prevé su propia ingeniería para resolverla.”

          There is no argument there. It’s just a justification of what they are doing. They simply have no point.

          • Yes, don’t actually show where he is wrong, just call is “vergonzoso” and forget about it. Haha!! You guys are pathetic.

          • GaC. This is like explaining why 2+2 is not 3 but here it goes anyway:

            Escarra contradicts himself when he says that a new constitutional period starts on January 10 but says that the VP remains in control: constitutionally the Vice Presidency is not an elected office so at the start of a new constitutional period and in the absence of the appointment of a VP by a sworn in President the Vice Presidency becomes vacant. In this instance there would not be a ‘vacio de poder’ since the constitution does provide a means to solve this lacuna i.e. apply the chain of Presidential succession for presidential absences to this admittedly special case. Following this rule Cabello and not an unapointed -and thus illegitimate- Maduro should become president until Chavez can take the oath of office. Note that no declaration of temporary or absolute absence is needed for this to happen.

            The ‘régimen especial de carácter temporal’ Escarra alludes to does not exist in the constitution. He made it up.

            To sum it up:
            Is the date of January 10 insignificant? NO, it is the date the new constitutional period begins and the date all appointments of unelected officials by presidential decree cease in their functions.
            Can the oath of office be taken at a later date than the one established in the constitution? yes the TSJ can name a new date but that does NOT mean the previous constitutional period is extended and its officials remain in their offices.

            Clear enough or should I take out the felt pen and whiteboard???

          • “constitutionally the Vice Presidency is not an elected office so at the start of a new constitutional period and in the absence of the appointment of a VP by a sworn in President the Vice Presidency becomes vacant. ”

            That’s precisely what Escarrá says is not the case. He says that the constitutional period begins, and that the executive branch takes office regardless of whether the president is sworn-in.

            He’s a constitutional attorney that helped draft the constitution, and you’re just some idiot in the comments section of a blog.

          • And, what you say cannot be found anywhere in the constitution. The only place there is mention of the president of the AN taking over is in case of an absolute absence, which is clearly defined.

          • Yes, that is so. But you yourself accepted that the constitution needed to be interpreted. In that sense there are two options on the table:
            1. The president of the national assembly, an elected official, sworn in and holder of an office that is clearly called to substitute the president should he be unnable to continue rulling.
            2. A private citizen, named by the President to succeed him should he be unable to come back from his illnes (unless you are ready to argue that Maduro remains the VP in the new constitutional period in the absence of an appointment from a sworn in President)

            You argue that given those two options the logical way forward is number 2. I think you are wrong and I have given you plenty of reasons why.

          • No, my friend, I am not some idiot. I am a Venezuelan citizen and an attorney. But I love how your argument degrades into name calling as soon as someone gives you the reasons why you are wrong.

            The idiocy of the argument that unelected officials don’t need to be reinstated at the beginning of a new constitutional term should be self evident. Your only argument to defend that this is so is that ‘Escarra helped draft the constitution’.

            Reina Lucero also helped draft the constitution, maybe we should ask her what she thinks…

          • “Régimen Especial de Carácter Temporal” is not even in the Constitution. This is just a bunch of BS. It’s like arguing with a birther.

          • What you are arguing isn’t in the constitution either (that the president of AN should take over). This is why people have to interpret the constitution. Funny how apparently the only interpretation possible is the one that you have all convinced yourselves of (except Capriles of course, who keeps changing his mind).

            Of course, a constitutional lawyer who helped draft the constitution should just be ignored.

          • You’ve taken one phrase out of his argument in attempt to not actually have to engage it. Here’s what he actually says:

            “El 10 de enero hay un período constitucional que comienza independientemente del titular, no olvidemos que el Poder Ejecutivo no es solo el presidente, la propia norma dice el presidente, el vicepresidente, los ministros y los demás funcionarios que esta Constitución y la ley señale. Por ejemplo, el Consejo de Estado forma parte del Poder Ejecutivo, el procurador general de la República forma parte del Poder Ejecutivo, además del Consejo de los Ministros y además del vicepresidente, el lapso como tal no se prorroga ni se detiene, solo que no ha asumido la titularidad plena quien ha sido por el pueblo de Venezuela ratificado nuevamente en el ejercicio de sus funciones porque se trata de un presidente electo.”

          • That text basically agrees with us, and throws water at the whole “continuity” argument.

            Escarrá can say what he wants, but the Venezuelan Academy of Constitutional Law has just published a document supporting the MUD’s position.

          • Este argumento tenemos que tenerlo en español. Ahí en el texto no hay argumento alguno, si entendieses español entenderías ese punto tan básico. Pero eres un gringuito ignorante…

          • Y tu pretendes tener un argumento sobre derecho constitucional venezolano sin entender ni papa de español. Anda, pajùo, defiéndete en la lengua de tu comandante puej.

    • Why don’t you wake up and smell the coffee? He’s not on a Caribbean cruise, he’s barely alive. He can’t write his own letters or sign them. He’s too sick for them even to show us a photo. The government says he’s running the country. Hermann Escarra may have lots of letters after his name, but he’s talking through his fundamental orifice. It defies the most basic common sense (to quote one of your favourite phrases) that the constitutional provisions drafted precisely in order to deal with such a situation are being passed over for political convenience. I’m still waiting for you to tell us what kind of circumstances you think the ‘falta temporal’ and ‘falta absoluta’ references actually cover, if not these.

  7. They want time, but why?
    1 – they still hope chavez will recover?
    2 – chavez’s family demand they wait?
    3 – they need to prepare for an impending election?
    4 – there are unresolved issues about the succession (who gets what)?
    5 – they want to provoke a reaction?
    6 – cuba needs to make sure they will continue to run things under new regime?
    7 – a more gradual transition may appease some factions within the ruling party?

    • Pretty good list , maybe the combination of two or more reasons in this list might help explain the regimes incredible position ,perhaps a few more can be offered , one they want to keep their supporters unified in their hatred of the opposition , before they start getting lukewarm and inventing a pretext for confrontation helps them do this , Or maybe they need people to become accostumed to seeing Maduro as president before letting him face new elections , Or maybe they are drunk on their own feeling of omnipotence at doing something arbritrary but which shows off their invincible political dominance . In the end it wont change things . They really love political theatre , the more brutal the better !!

  8. The fascinating thing is that we don’t even know if the guy is alive, At present we have a series of communications released by the government with no independent confirmation. Has the opposition even moved that a multiparty parliamentary delegation confirm that the guy is still breathing (assisted or not)? Just curious.

  9. I have to admit that I am still confused about what is the truly legal way of handling this situation, but it seems to me that the swearing date (after reading Escarra’s) CCS interview is not crucial. However, once again it seems to me that the constitution is poorly written and ambigous. The same is the case for the constitutional referendum articles. Basically, it should state clearly what is considered a temporal and absolute absence, exactly when it has to be declared, and how long a sick exiled president elect can hold power without being sworn in.

    Especially in a country where rationality often looses out the constitution should be much clearer and better written.

    Although the chavismo could push their quedtionable legal arguments for the current state of affairs, there are numerous aspects of the whole situation which are ridiculous, and which any decent political movement would avoid. First of all, a dying president shouldn’t fill himself up with steroids, lie to the people that he is well and present himself for elections, knowing he wont last. Secondly, people shouldn’t vote for such a liar. Also, when the president has spent several weeks in near coma, and, due to his authoritarianism, blocks crucial decision making in the economic governance and beyond, the rest of the government should declare, at least, a temporary absence. It is also pathetic how the national sovereign decisions are obviously taken by a foreign imperialist power (although due to lack of industry, people and arms Cuba is not controlling as many countries as it would like to).

    Finally, in a perverse sense it is better that Chavez stays in power, because the decision vacuum and rio revuelto-ness it creates will speed up the all out exposure of the chavista governance disaster. I don’t wish death upon anyone, and much less a person which should have to face the responibility of the economic disaster he has created. Hopefully that will teach chavistas where the blame for their soon to explode crisis lies.

    It is easy to be blinded by Chavez’ sickness, and ignore that the economic failure of chavismo is speeding closer to all out exposure more than ever before.

  10. Jorge Olavarria must be spinning in his grave. Back in the nineties he had a lot to say …

    “No es hora de historias pasadas, la historia se está haciendo aquí y ahora”.
    “Si los venezolanos nos dejamos alucinar por un demagogo dotado del talento de despertar odios y atizar atavismos de violencias, con un discurso embriagador de denuncia de corruptelas presentes y heroicidades pasadas, el año entrante Venezuela no va a entrar al siglo veintiuno, se quedará rezagada en lo peor del siglo veinte o retornará a l o peor del siglo diecinueve”.
    “¡Que más se puede decir para sacudir a los venezolanos que me escuchan y sacarlos de su apatía, de su conformismo, de su cobardía cívica. Para alertarlos de lo que puede suceder y va a suceder si se deja pasar lo que se está diciendo y se está haciendo!”.
    “En su día fueron más los que siguieron a Boves que a Bolívar. Pero para nuestra fortuna, no todos los venezolanos de entonces se hicieron soldados de Boves. Y no todos los venezolanos de hoy, son como los que ayer siguieron a Boves”.
    “Y es por mis hijos y mis nietos y los hijos y los nietos de todos los que tienen hijos y nietos, por quienes he hablado. Ellos son los que van a vivir en la Venezuela del próximo siglo. Ellos son los que van a tener que pagar lo que hoy hagamos o dejemos hacer para detener, o dejar pasar, lo que tanto daño amenaza.
    Mañana, mis hijos y mis nietos no me podrán reclamar el no haber dicho lo que debía decir cuando pude y debí decirlo. Lo dije. Yo cumplí. Ahora les toca a ustedes…“

  11. Whats most frustrating in my opinion its the stubbornness of the government to simply appoint a medical board and confirm Chavez’s status, it doesn’t matter how the opposition leaders approach it, how much the kneel before the PSUV and kiss their feet, they simply get the door slammed in their faces.

    Jesus Christ of Nazareth himself, The Messiah, comes down from the heavens and suggest the same thing to the government, he would be called a CIA infiltrator and would be thrown in jail (And they would blame it on the jews, of course.) So why would the opposition even bother at this point? The chavistas had made it very clear that they are in power and they decide what the rules are, fuck the constitution and the laws, they make the laws and interpret them how they see fit, you don’t like it? We’ll cook up an antecedente penal and throw your ass in jail so you can keep that fascist imperialist pig Jesus company.

  12. Meanwhile, the elephant in the room continues to elude us. Namely, how come the President is literally a “Desaparecido en La Habana”, a host (…age of the Castros) being treated (we are told! but we don’t know how!) by a medical team (of which we don’t know a damn name!) of a grave illness (of which we know not a thing).

    In all of this our (purportedly) democratic other powers (legislative, judiciary, and the rest of the Executive) of the State have given him all the time (how much? any estimate?) he needs to recover (from what exactly? can he recover at all?), and have not seen fit to ask a single question (it’s all obviously clear).

    It’s clear that the VP, the AN and the TSJ are fulfilling their duty (to the Castros and to Maduro and Cabello’s games, their loyalty lies there). If an order comes from Habana (from him, who else? never from the Castros or any ventriloquist such as Maduro or Cabello) our loyal Armed Forces shall comply too. DAMN!


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