Your Christmas Turd, courtesy of Diosdado Cabello and TSJ


15971156_700x700min_1While you were busy making hallacas – or, more realistically, standing in line for ingredients to make hallacas – Diosdado Cabello just laid the most enormous turd under the tree. With an assist from TSJ, Diosdado just rammed three regime apparatchiks into the three jobs the constitution is most emphatic in saying no regime apparatchik should ever come near.

Tarek William Saab (!), Manuel Galindo and Luisa Ortega Diaz (!!) will be People’s Ombudsman, Comptroller General and Prosecutor General, after a particularly shameful episode of constitutional desecration whereby the Supreme Tribunal declared that when the constitution says explicitly in Article 279 that you need a 2/3rds majority in the National Assembly to elect these officials what that means is that you need a simple majority.

Eurasia, the TSJ decision added, has always been at war with Eastasia.

Listen, whatever its faults, the 1999 Constitution did at least include strong, unambiguous language for shielding these three officials from executive power. It makes sense: the National Ombudsman, Comptroller and Prosecutor were designed as the three key offices that would keep watch over the executive power, checking it when it went off the rails.

These provisions in Article 279 are about as far from lacunae in constitutional design as you can imagine: they are clear, explicit, unmistakable mandates meant to ensure these officials remain outside the sphere of executive power. There’s no wiggle room there. You can’t sidestep article 279, you can only violate it.

Venezuela’s tragedy is that the people actively subverting the explicit mandates of the constitution are now the same people proposing to try for treason those who question the way they exercise power.


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  1. Heh. Chavismo never changes. And people thought a little pressure would make them concede on some aspects. Here they are, doing what they do best.

  2. Uno se arrecha por lo que le acaban de hacer al artículo 279, but spare a thought for its little brother, Art. 278:

    Artículo 278. El Consejo Moral Republicano promoverá todas aquellas actividades pedagógicas dirigidas al conocimiento y estudio de esta Constitución, al amor a la patria, a las virtudes cívicas y democráticas, a los valores trascendentales de la República y a la observancia y respeto de los derechos humanos.

    • I think the sad reality Quico, is that this is painful because here one needs to take a Bhudist approach (stop resisting reality). The reality is this: Venezuela does not have a Constitution. Actually I will take that back, there is a Constitution it has one article. Article 1: Porque me da la gana. That’s it, this charade of pretending that we have a Constitution is painful.

      • A constitution is supposed to encapsulate a set of principles, it is not supposed to serve simply as a cookbook to be followed by gutless automatons. But if there were never any principles to start with other than “por que me dio la gana” ….

        • Which is why what Venezuela has is a piece of paper. (Or several, as the case may be.)

          A constitution is more than what it is written on; otherwise, you don’t have a constitution.

          This is why it kills me when people say that there should be an asamblea constituyente; something I believe is completely without purpose at this stage. Why get everyone to agree to a set of rules when one group immediately suborns them. Its bad enough when they are a coalition or minority. It is an entirely different thing when they hold nearly absolute power: the people who agree and hold to it are, in the end, principled suckers.

  3. Many people knew this was coming, coming from the days when the Comptroller died, with the encounter and consequences of Art 279 first showed up on the political radar. When there is a need to renew positions or when the position is vacant, which was the case when the Comptroller died, the National Assembly needs to meet and create a postulation commission. Once created people are evaluated and then need 2/3 of the Assembly to be chosen. If nothing is agreed then you go to a national referendum. BUT If the commission is not created then it is chosen by the National Assembly with just 50%. So when the Comptroller died, the National Assembly was the one that had to move fast and replace the position, but they did’t, because, they knew that by just letting time slip, they knew a day like today would come along.


    • “.. If the commission is not created then it is chosen by the National Assembly with just 50%”..

      That is what the government would LIKE us to believe Art. 279 says. It is, however, NOT what Art. 279 says.

      • Philgunson is right, Art 279 does not say National Assembly needs to get a 50 % plus vote, the 279 says it will designate, like an administrative order. The 50 % was invented by the TSJ when D.Cabello asked the TSJ what it needed to do even though the Assembly just needed to designate. I guess they ( Psuv ) wanted it to look democratic.


        • Ummm … nope. That’s not right either. There’s no difference between “escoger” and “designar” in this context. And no reason to suppose that the constituent assembly intended parliament to take the decision in a different way simply because the Consejo Moral Republicano was unable or unwilling to play its part. In other words, the requirement for a 2/3 vote in the National Assembly remains the same and the government is quite simply violating the constitution. Had the constituyentes intended the vote to be by simple majority they had merely to say so. And they did not. Moreover, such a stipulation would make no sense whatsoever.

  4. There were stories of a delay in these appointments because of a battle between the Maduro faction and the Diosdado faction. Are we to interpret this as a signal that Diosdado is firmly in charge of major regime turds now?

  5. I don’t know why anyone is surprised or outraged at this point. Validating express violations of the Constitution to benefit chavismo has been the norm since the AD-COPEI appoinred CSJ allowed the Constituent Assembly back in 99.

  6. events like these should remind us all that constitutions are just as useless as any other law if there is no will to enforce it. That’s why I laugh when I read things like if we had a king or a parliamentary system what is going on would not be happening, look at nazi germany, Putin’s russia, Erdogan, etc. if a group of people wish to implement a totalitarian system, given the right conditions there is no constitution that can prevent it.

  7. Good post. Keeping track of atrocities, whether surprising ones
    or unexpected ones, is one of the most important functions of CC. Great work.

  8. What Diosdado did today is to confirm without any ambiguity that Venezuela is ruled by a dictatorship … for those who still thought otherwise …

  9. J. What Diosdado did was to confirm that Venezuela is ruled by a dictatorship and that HE is the dictator.
    I have seen many violations of the Constitution, which BTW, is amazingly bad written, but this particular article clearly says there is a need for 2/3 of the vote. These guys are desperate.

  10. 1- This constitutional jiu-jitsu won’t be very useful when the Venezuelan oil basket hits less than $40 in 2015.

    2- So, good luck trying to feed people with oil barrels, Maduro.

    3- Chavismo is in deep water and can’t use Miami as safe-haven anymore.

    Happy 2015, Chavistas! We are coming for ya. 😉

  11. The chavistas may be playing a bit of a deep game. By entrenching their partisans throughout the state (and the judiciary), they can insure that an oppo president will be ineffective, and they can regain the presidency after a few years. (Vide Nicaragua.) This fails only if the oppo, when it gets the chance, removes all illegally appointed chavistas, and those who have violated their oaths of office (e.g. the TSJ justices who issued this decision).

    That will take nerve, because the chavistas and their foreign enablers will cite Section 279 etc. in defense of the appointees.

  12. This discussion is pointless, like any discussion concerning the so called constitution has been since before its inception. There was never a true constitution in place. Remember not only that there was no room for a constitutional assembly under the ’61 constitution, but also that the election of the assembly members was in violation of the then constitutional requirement of proportional representation of minorities, which explains how chavismo, with 53% of the votes got 95% of the seats in the consttutional assembly. These two key elements, and the meek acceptance of those maneuvers by the status quo/opposition, doomed Venezuela. I believe it is Quico who says that the day everything went to hell was the day of the millardito. I believe he is wrong, I believe democracy died with the election of the constitutional assembly members. After that…came the “congresillo” led by Miquilena that replaced all public powers and put the apparatchik chavista in place… the edits to the constitution so there were several editions published and none were the one approved by the suprious constitutional assembly… After that: Who can forget the parody for the convocation of the recall referendum? Firmazo, reafirmazo and the Lista Tascon? So on and so forth. So, on the basis of these precedents, How can anyone be even mildly surprised when chavismo abuses power yet once again? And you THINK that these guys will let themselves be VOTED out of power? Right.

    • Right you are Patrick !! Its been a long slide to the abyss we have fallen into .!! Glad to see your sharp insights back in these pages !! dont stop !!

    • Totally in agreement Patrick, but I would go even farther back. The day democracy died in Venezuela we in 1992, when Chávez have his coup and the majority of the “leaders” ( Eduardo Fernandez was a notable exception) and the so-called “notables” refused to condemn it.

      • The infamous Caldera speech before congress that relaunched his popularity and paved his way back to the Presidency, and David Morales Bello’s “death to the coupsters” faux-pas. The impeachment of Carlos Andres Perez. Ahh, the memories. To think that a lot of people voted for Chavez in 1998 even though they knew for a fact that the only relevant action of his life until that moment had been to send soldiers to kill civilians to take over power. That was the true measure of the man.

        • Many “true measures of men”–Caldera’s speech; Caldera’s pardoning of Chavez and the plotters, with payback when Chavez turned his back on him when donning the sash as President before the Asamblea=another true measure of Chavez as a man; Aristobulo’s speech before Congress when Caldera’s; Morales Bello, while right, although “death” in Venezuela is 30 years, being widely condemned by most of the influential men in Venezuela; and the list can go on endlessly. A country generally deserves its leadership, and, unfortunately for Venezuela, its leadership reflects many of the qualities of the common man in the street.

      • Rory, look it up. Among the few independent members of the C.A. were Jorge Olavarria, Gerardo Blyde, Herman Escarra (before he turned back to Chavismo), and a couple others.

    • Reading this comment by Patrick is a great way to remember how we got here.

      I would argue, however, that the true death date is actually the day Caldera restored Hugo Chavez’ rights when he got out of prison.

      I clearly remember that day, and remember remarking that this was the beginning of the end. Shortly after that I began to make arrangements to leave Venezuela since I could see, clear as day, what would come down the pike.

      I do believe that Caldera’s mother must have felt my wrath, as I did name her several times in very creative ways on Venezuelans can manage!

      I will say, that at the time I thought that Chavez would get one term (so as you can see, I’m not exactly 100% prescient). I had no clue about Constituyentes or any of most of the rest that happened, but it was clear that the AD/COPEI fiesta was done for.

      • Yes, it is important to understand how we got here. I wish those that were part of history write about it. Write it, not with the idea of being absolved by history, but what they really felt and why they felt that way.

        I remember being a member of Atarraya at the time and being the target of my first flame war because I expressed my repudiation and concern about the 1992 coup. And that was Atarraya in 1992, a network composed mainly of high level venezuelan scientists and engineers. I believe in propaganda: if one repeats enough times anything, it will be adopted by the majority, regardless of who they are.

        I think the press as well as the old politicians bear a great part of the responsability of what is happening today.

  13. Constitutions are only as good as the people whose job is to interpret or enforce them . Because we go by the rule that because these people (or those that appointed them ) where chosen using the mangled procedures of a democratic vote they are formally legitimized to abuse their position and violate all that such constitution stands for. There is something wrong with a system which allows these things to happen , something that needs correcting , can we imagine what form that corrective action can take .?? or are we forever to continue self deluding ourselves into beleiving that the system is perfect and therefore untouchable.!!

  14. The great genius of Chavismo, and the nightmarish tragedy for Venezuela, is its inimitable ability for cheating and corruption; Chavism as its core is malandrus summa cum laude.

  15. And with stuff like this I ask:
    Where’s the value in voting and trying to get a majority at the assembly for 2015?
    We’re seeing how these bastards just keep doing whatever they please “porque les da la gana” as somebody said before.

    • You go out to vote because that is the only legal choice you have. It costs one a few hours and who knows, we may get lucky!

      What a shame that’s the only real reason to go out to vote in Venezuela………………………..

    • You go out to vote because many people did not go out to vote in the 1999 referendum and in the elections that came afterwords. If you think they will steal the elections, give them reason to steal them, do not hand them the elections like in 2005.

  16. Quico could you please organize a quiniela for 2015.

    Something like:
    1. Average Oil Price for 2015: My bet $55/BOE (WTI)
    2. Lowest Oil price for 2015: My bet $38/BOE/(WTI)
    3. Will Giordani come back? If yes, which ministry? Yes, planning of cour,se
    4. Will we have elections in 2015? month? do we win? Do we get more diputados than PSUV? yes! / April / Yes! /no!
    5. Do they raise the price of gas? how much? NO! / 0%
    6. Do they officially devalue? when? how much? cadivi no, the rest yes / After elections / whatever
    7. Exchange rate BF/USD at end of 2015 (Black market)? 2000siempre
    8. Do they default on Wall St? mmmmmmm mmmmm not yet
    9. Do Maduro and Diosdado stay in their power places at end of 2015? yes/yes!
    10. How many times will the government blame Uribe on a Magnicidio? 52 times.

    PD: I did not include political prisoners, death numbers, diseases and scarcity because there is no way to have fun with any of them.

  17. Here is an idea, for Chavistas in power: collect all Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic Booklets, sold and unsold, used or unused, big or small. Send the booklets in question to Papel Maracay and let them reprocess the stuff to make paper toilet (papel tuale). That’ll make a few asses happy.


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