The Venezuelan institutional conflict may seem scorching hot, but up until now, it’s been pretty much been our version of the Cold War. The nukes are pointed at each other, there’s a ton of overheated rhetoric, but so far no one has really pushed the button. Not yet.

Chavismo has approved a series of crazy decisions, but it hasn’t executed them. Crazy decisions are cheap. Execution is where the action is. And until the government takes steps to enforce the decisions the TSJ crafted for them, we won’t know how much leverage the opposition really has.

And up to this point, it seems as if MUD has been careful not to giveaway their strategy.  

Look, we’re very much in the same place as you are. Our whatsapp group has been firing messages at a faster rate than your aunt’s massive chain generator. We’ve been trying to work out a clever way (at least in theory) to fend off chavismo’s attempts to defuse the National Assembly. It’s not easy, and the opposition’s political leverage is finite. Fireworks won’t do.

But we knew a choque de poderes was coming. We were expecting it. Also, we knew that we had to get to this kind of impasse in order to keep moving forward. The disgust, and gag reflex is comprehensible. But we can’t lose our minds over something that we knew, and hoped, would come.

The TSJ has pushed forward its artillery. They are showing off their big guns. Through its illegally appointed judges, chavismo has issued unconstitutional decisions to sabotage and neutralize the elected parliament. That’s constitutional fraud.

But the classic portrait of Bolívar is still proudly on display at the Palacio Legislativo. The Assembly is still the Assembly. In a way, chavismo hasn’t really done anything. They’ve huffed and puffed and shwon they expect the Assembly to comply.  

Diosdado Cabello, former President of the National Assembly and current PSUV whip, just gave the following statement: “If the opposition complies with the contempt decision by the TSJ, then there will be no point in investigating the judges.”

Read that carefully. Is that Diosdado, in effect, offering a deal?

For the first time, MUD is in a position to stand strong and just not budge. They could test Maduro’s TSJ and say, “no sir, YOU’re in contempt,” and just wait for someone to execute the Tribunal’s illegal decision. See who will ignore the decisions of the parliament, and see who will come round up those found in contempt.

It’s clear who’s giving the orders, now let’s see who will pull the trigger.   

Anabella thinks the National Assembly leadership should pick its battles and comply with the TSJ decision. Let the majority live to fight another day. We’ve gone along with blatantly partisan decisions in the past, and we know it’s not necessarily always a loser. After all, agreeing to look the other way as CNE allowed, for example, the MIN-Unidad dirty trick (and many others) was a big part of the strategy that got us a parliamentary supermajority in the first place.

Even if it does, it must not, cannot take the other part of Diosdado’s implicit deal. it is imperative that the legislature moves forward within the established procedures to remove the illegally appointed justices, be it to test the institutions or to simply have it documented for the bajadita. This clash between branches of government – el choque de poderes – is unavoidable, and it’s the sort of thing the voters expect the deputies to tackle.        

¿Mataste al animal y le vas a tener miedo al cuero?

It was to foresee what was going to happen, so this may be a time to trust the people that you voted for. They say they have a strategy. Henry has said it, Freddy has said it, and Chuo has said it. I refuse to think that they are not thinking two steps ahead. As someone in our paranoid whatsapp group said: this is not checkers, it’s chess.    

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