By now you know that yesterday the Supreme Tribunal issued a judgement of more than questionable legality: every action emanating  from the National Assembly will be considered “null” until the three deputies from southern Venezuela whose proclamation the tribunal had suspended are separated from their seats. This is shocking, but not surprising.

What should the New Majority of the National Assembly do?

The first institutional possibility seems pretty straightforward: ni un paso atrás. The new majority could keep going with its 112 deputies and disesteem any illegal judgements from the TSJ.

Bit what can the New Majority actually do if every single one of its decision is – legally or not – pre-nullified? Diosdado Cabello already said that the 112 deputies’ majority wouldn’t get a dime or be able to publish a single law on the Gaceta Oficial our tropical Hansard. Even more so, Cabello already announced their next move: use the omisión legislativa card to replace the National Assembly with the Supreme Tribunal’s Sala Constitucional.

The second institutional possibility is to take a step back and reorganize. The new majority could separate the three deputies from their seats and fight their case, while the other 109 deputies get organized to fight from all angles.

I’m all for the second option.

I think the new majority should play the political game and not exclude itself from the get-go. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Wouldn’t it be great for Nicolás Maduro to present his annual Memoria y Cuenta in the National Assembly? Shouldn’t the new majority try to take a jab at the Economic Emergency Decree, even if Maduro then decides to send it to the Sala Constitucional? What about all the comptrollership powers the National Assembly still has?

Imagine the opposition doing everything that the simple and 3/5 majority entitles it to better, if it did it all at once.

Did you know the simple majority can authorize before the TSJ the arrest and prosecution of deputies presumed to have commited crimes; or not authorize the absence from the national territory of the President of the Republic for periods of more than five consecutive days; or attribute municipalities or states with certain matters of national competence, in order to promote decentralization? Did you know the 3/5 majority can approve the motion to censure the Executive Vice President or Ministers, which would imply their removal?

Some argue that if the new majority of the National Assembly disinvests the three MUD deputies from Amazonas, the government will try to challenge even more opposition deputies. This might happen even if the three deputies are not disinvested, so I don’t think it should be a deciding factor.

Some see disinvesting the three MUD deputies from Amazonas is a sign of weakness.

I think it’s more a sign of tactical nimbleness, of adaptability, and street smarts.

This a political war and sometimes an army should take a few steps back, get reorganized, get more ammo and come back with better equipment and better tactics. This is an unfair war, but a war the opposition must fight.

37 COMMENTS

  1. What do you think is going to happen when the ones leading the opposition are the ones that got most of the votes and the ones behind “La Salida”. Radicals are going to Radicate…

    • As much as those haters might hate their guts out those who dared to protest, labeled as “radicals”, they would be wise in remembering that many of those same radicals also voted in 6D too.

  2. Swearing in the amazonas 3 was a Rubicon moment. I would personally have preferred they didn’t, for the reasons you state above, but it’s too late now. Why would the TSJ hesitate to say that, even though they have been divested, the AN is still in contemp for simply having sworn them in in the first place?

    The way to win in Calvinball is definetly not to follow the current set of rules

  3. Yes! The government will not back down. The opposition has to play the long game, and use all the institutional leverage they can. In this case, this indeed means sacrificing the 2/3 majority (temporarily, but most likely for good) for the chance of being able to pass laws that are recognized by the other powers of the government.

  4. Totally agree. Furthermore, while keeping the 109 in charge and doing the work entitled to it, let’s skip the six months ‘good will gap’ and go full frontal with any of the Constitutional ways to change the Executive… it’s obvious that by now, they don’t give a damn on the economic crisis and they’re all-in on the political fight. It’s a sad thing to say, especially to all of those really struggling because of the economic chaos (pretty much every one but the enchufados), but there doesn’t seem to be another way.

  5. I strongly disagree with the premise of this post. You seem to imply the opposition can maneuver through the judicial hoops and obstacles set by the government to ultimately achieve some real legislative change, but I think you’re not taking into account the elephant in the room: the government doesn’t care one bit about judicial or legislative considerations. They only care about power. And they will not give in one bit. If it weren’t these three representatives, it would be something else. The pictures of Bolívar, the debate rules, whatever they felt was tangible enough to use as an excuse to dismiss the AN.

    The government has made it very clear they will not, under any circumstances, accept anything the AN decides. So I don’t think we’re in a situation in which we can compromise a bit and win in the long run. We’re in a situation in which those in power are in complete denial of reality and refuse to acknowledge the existence, let alone the legitimacy, of their adversaries.

    I doubt the opposition can jujitsu their way out of this. They have to strike back and strike hard. For example by refusing to recognize the legitimacy of the TSJ. Something like this would force a (probably ugly) resolution and would likely mean the newly elected representatives would be burned, at least temporarily, since the government’s reaction would most likely be to dissolve the AN.

    Dramatic? Sure. But the situation itself is dramatic. I honestly don’t see any way in which the AN will begin passing laws the government doesn’t agree and yet have those laws somehow enforced.

      • But if the AN agrees to back down and nullify itself then the government would have successfully masked another “marramucia with some sort of legal background”.

  6. Yeah, no dice. The 2/3 majority is a must for naming new TSJ magistrates, else, what it keeps the Goverment to start ordering the separation of more deputies? Also, the Sala Constitutional has as one of their major magistrates Calixto Ortega, the whole thing is a joke.

    If the goverment doesn’t back down, neither will we. If that means having to deal with the military surrounding the Assembly, so be it.

  7. ” si te dejas tocar el culo, te cojen”….
    wise words I heard once form a night club bouncer in PLC.

    The new AN could not have hold back on swearing in the Amazonas gang or it would have shown that the illegitimate TSJ had a hold on their decisions.

    In the same light, the current AN can not “tone down” its actions for fear of what the regime controlled institutions may or may not say. All that must constrain and advise their actions are the law and the constitution, under the mandate of their representation., legislar y controllar!

    Being this a chess game, the regime has thought this over well in advance, and they can simply not afford to have torombolo show up with the usual bogus Memoria y cuenta documents and speech and perform in front of an independent AN and moreover, on public broadcast.

    This will simply not be wise to be allowed to happen.
    El juego esta trancado in anticipation for this milestone, and every action by all actors just ups the ante in the confrontation.

    The climax of this phase will lie in desperate compatriots protesting in the streets and in front of all kinds of public offices for personal safety, jobs, food and government. Expect saqueos y peos. Eventually the gran explosion social will be promoted from within the regime opperatik and the military will be forced to intervene.

    It stands to be seen whether this intervention results in sidelining with the constitution and Rule of law, against it or worse case scenario a split.

  8. The second option would only be valid upon the assumptions that the government wants to negotiate, that they will acknowledge the Assembly however small it gets. Backing off now seems tactical, yes, but it will also mean that the Assembly validates the Suprem Court which was illegally constituted and which has already issued two completely inconstitutional decisiions. Once the Parliament makes such a validation, what will the government do? Simply stay quiet and work institutionally? I don’t think so.

    I think your option is intelligent… if we were facing another political situation. With this government, though, I don’t think giving ground will result in a better terrotory from which to move. D.R.

  9. you people don’t get it do you, the government will not yield an inch.

    “Ni un paso atras” is now for real for the oppsoition.

  10. Accepting that ruling would mean accepting the illegal and void chaburro-tsj and bring down one hundred or more challenges.

    Don’t say later that they weren’t warned.

    And about 109? They wouldn’t be able to do zilch, since chaburrismo will claim that everything needs 112 now, they’ll cling to that number even if it means directly imprisoning congressmen who dare to vote against the most viciously stupid stuff chaburrismo does, like maburro’s trips, additional debts, or ANY measure to touch the economy.

    Also, this will be seen as “It doesn’t matter that chaburros shit all over your rights, just go and vote again! Only that you’ll have a literal gun against your head this time!”, chaburrismo would dedicate resources to ensure those full 4 seats there even if it means outright killing the MUD candidates.

  11. The AN will never be allowed to “win” if it goes down that path. If they can toy with its legitimacy today, what makes anybody think the TSJ stop -after- it’s 109 members vs 112? Think magically the AN will get its way with anything else?

    No more. This fiction must stop. Nobody wants to admit it, but little progress can be made regardless of whether we have a chastened AN in the coming months or a defiant AN for the next forseeable days and none further.

    Let the regime defend itself for once in the court of international public opinion as they shut down a popularly elected assembly. But by no means give them the ability to do it quietly, and through a thousand cuts.

    This fight has been put off for far too long.

  12. Anabella delineates the options very well , but I have to disagree with her choice for #2: It would only open the door wise-open for more abuse, even more flagrant Constitutional violations. Would show MUD weakness. The corrupt TSJ and Cabello’s thugs would simply salivate and laugh while prepare the next, even bigger Judicial or Executive branches’ Coup.

    You’re dealing with deviant criminals here, fighting to stay out of Jail and to keep their stolen fortunes. Giving them an inch is giving them a Mile. (“les das un dedo, y se llevan el brazo”)

  13. Stepping back and withdrawing the 3 deputies from Amazonas only makes sense if its part of a longer play, designed to deal immediately with the TSJ threat, and regain the 3 deputies. If the MUD retreats, and starts simply legislating as if they only won 109 deputies, then it can say goodbye to its 2/3 majority forever. There’s no point in fighting the 3 deputies with the TSJ on legal grounds. MUD will never win on legal grounds with TSJ. The TSJ will simply take until 2021 to decide on the issue. And those who say that 109 it’s 2/3 of 163: obviously, the TSJ will rule that that’s not the case, even if it goes against logic and the law.

    MUD could withdraw the 3 deputies from Amazonas, and then use its 3/5 majority to call a referendum to amend the constitution to allow the AN to change the TSJ judges immediately. The call for a referendum on a constitutional amendment only requires a simply majority.

    • Guarulla already hinted that the three deputies can resign, forcing inmediate new elections, in which case it’s completely irrelevant how long the TSJ takes in deciding about Dec 6th election. That would provisionally unlock the game, while the 109 majority does as it can to rebalance the TSJ, like you said.

      • How close were the elections in Amazonas? Could MUD realistically win them again, with the gvmt throwing its entire weight into stealing them?

        • Pretty close, but the government already threw everything in to steal it, and they couldn’t. The situation now (or in a few months) won’t be any better for them than in December; and previous experiences have shown that this “repeat elections” move played badly for the government: San Cristóbal and San Diego mayorships -differences aside- were won again by a wider margin… there’s a thing with people when they feel their voice has been deliberately ignored, they shout it out again, way louder than before. Anyway, there’s practically just one seat in dispute: the single Amazonas district. Amazonas list splits one seat to each, and the South indigenous district was won landslide.

  14. Although I like the way you paint it, Anabella, the crux here is that if we accept this ruling, we are giving legitimacy to the TSJ. What will public opinion be? Will Venezuelans understand the strategy or see it as “These fucks are being wimps again”? If they see weakness, chavismo will be stronger.

    Chavismo doesn’t cares about law. The Constitution dictates explicitly that the president must give his “state of the union” on the Assembly. Maduro won’t do it. Why? Whatever reason; but even if we back down, he may not come anyway.

    If we back down, the TSJ will use that as a tool to undermine everything we attempt in the future. Even if we do, they will chip away and chip away until they come on top.

    If the solution is calling for a referendum to change the justices, it must be announced tomorrow. Otherwise, rodilla en tierra seems the only solution and confrontation proceeds.

  15. WTI under $30 for the first time since 2003

    Los Chavistas no pueden tapar el sol con un dedo. La economia esta mal, va para peor, el pueblo votó por el cambio y ellos pretenden seguir teniendo el 100% del poder y de las decisiones. Simplemente inaceptable.

    La oposicion tiene que decir que no la dejan legislar para aplicar los cambios necesarios para achicar el barco y que los chavistas siguen por el camino de la desgracia.

    Recipe for disaster but nobody expected that they would give power back peacefully.

  16. Muy arriesgado el movimiento táctico hacia atrás. Deja un mal precedente y con esta gente, le das la uña y te cojen el… dedo.

    De todos modos, la gente de la oposición y HRA, muy hábilmente están sacando el debate de la MUD y llevándolo a la plenaria de la AN mañana a las 10:30 AM.
    Allí se debatirá abiertamente y se acordará lo que se tenga que acordar. Todo va a quedar por escrito en las Actas del Congreso. Muy institucional.

    Sugiero a la gente de CC que cubran la fuente, tal como lo hicieron el 5E. Creo va a tener rating

  17. Ah, but what if the real plan has always been a sprint? Is it possible that the “six months” was a red herring?

    Look, I really don’t know. But, at the moment, I am still willing to give these guys the benefit of the doubt that they know what they are doing.

  18. Actually, if Ramos Allup, Borges and Chuo recognize the stinking TSJ, and back down with 109 deputies, it would be an irreversible, documented blow to the opposition. Huge mistake. For starters, Maduro isn’t showing up on Friday, forget about the “constitution”. They’d rather have toilet paper at home.

    The MUD better stand firm right now, or live to regret it.

  19. If you can’t give a jab at this sentence, you can’t give it at Maduro’s Economic Decree or Memoria y Cuenta with 3/5. Forget it. Wake up. Stop playing politics as Hasbro.

  20. Stunned to think that someone believes a fight based on legal based common sense strategy is the way forward. How’s that worked out in the last seventeen years ?
    This drama is a street fight. Admittedly Cabello looks favourite but at least we have a chance. No room for appeasers or fifth columnists now. Stick the boot in Henry.

  21. This is a pulling contest in which any side who retreats loses ground that cannot be recovered easily and, worse, loses credibility in front of his followers. The democratic deputies should not retreat while the government cannot retreat. But every day that goes by with a country paralyzed by this confrontation is bad for the government. As the oil drops price the government enters into default with suppliers and lenders. The expectations of the people cannot be satisfied any longer. The political confrontation with the Assembly is taking every bit of attention from the government. Add to this the increasing pressure of the outside world. Add to this the increasing unrest within the Armed forces.
    The word for the assembly is : steady as she goes. The regime is imploding.

  22. Annabella I think you are missing the point.
    If the AN gives in at this point, the TSJ will be cemented and it will be used to filter all the laws produced by the AN. The AN/TSJ duo would be nothing else but a rubberstamp. The AN would have no real power, it would be a lame congress giving the government a patina of legitimacy, thank you very much, in exchange for a salary and a place to debate (more like talk). Tsvangirai in Zimbabwe.

    That is no way to conduct a political struggle. If the government is going to nullify the congress let them pay a big political price for it and also shoulder all the responsability for the multi crisis. Let it be called a dictatorship. The opposition should keep the fight in the court of public opinion where real politics takes place.

    A country with no AN is better than one with a lame or fake AN. The latter one serves to legitimize the regime, the former shows reality as it is.

  23. Anabella, giving up now is like giving up on a bully…you will become the soup of the bully and it will take a lot more to humble their pride.

    Confrontation is unavoidable even if it risks the strategic objectives. The Maduro’s boys have shown that they would do all the tricks to stay in power, both by bending laws or by using violence.

    As it may sound terrible, because it is, violence in the street may be the next move because it will enable a negotiated solution beyond the TSJ. That is the deputies agree to a second election to pacify the violence and the process is overseen by international agencies. Thus the AN keeps face while showing the country how far it may go to defend what has been achieved.

    TSJ brokered solution is bullshit because there is nothing higher than the TSJ in the form of power and even the almighty “international community” would not be able to do anything about it. Someone told me once that the TSJ “solo se le quita el sombrero a Bolivar”. Thus you need to go back and deal with them with the people in the streets.

  24. Now it becomes obvious that knowledge about armies and war is not one of Ms Abadi’s strongest traits. In fact, she looks absolutely ignorant conveying these matters.

    Retreating means defeat. Most times in real wars, the only way is forward. It doesnt matter if such warn is fought with steel or paper.

    Every.Single.Time you allow chavismo to erode tenths of your ground, you lose. There isnt a single example of a unfavorable sentence against government over a pool of more than 45000 litigations in the last decade. We can hope odds of Ramos Allup mutating into “The Hulk” and stomping miraflores certainly run a bit higher.

    They cannot win

  25. This makes no sense from a strategist point of view. The goverment does not have any need right now to to negotiate with you, it will simply crush you with brute force, specially if you are weak and give up immediately the only leverage you have. They are way better than us at chess for all I care, Do you remember when Chavez said “triple ataque blindado”? Well, that is a good example of a winning strategy! Maybe you do have something to learn from him after all instead of taking very suspicious advise from Fernando Mires. IF the only thing you have in your favour is the majority, then you are forced to defend it with your blood and guts no matter what. If you retreat at the first threat, you will certainly lose the game. If you have power, you must use it. It is a simple as that. If you wait three months, or six months, you will lose your momentum. Right now the situation is very clear to the rest of the world. Six months from now, well… Nobody will remember.
    I will ask a very simple question.

    What is the worst that can happen if we simply use our majority to pass the laws that the goverment doesn’ t want we to pass?

    The worst tthing han can happen is that the AN is shut down. That is considerably better for us than your proposal! It will give us more leverage,

    NOw I have modest proposal: our strategy should be the one that Chavez learned from Mao: el doble ataque blindado. We should not take more dubious advise from Fernando Mires.

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