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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21 COMMENTS

  1. Indeed. Let us wait for an official move. Paper supports everything, but enforcing the Supreme Court’s rulings is a different matter.

    As I commented when I read Anabella’s analysis, budging to the Court’s illegal decision is tantamount to acknowledging the justices which were designated openly and clearly in violation of the law. Moreover, it can give the government more leverage to use the Court to oppose the Assembly in more vital ways because it will no longer be an illegal Court.

    Also, accepting the Supreme Court’s decision as a strategy is assuming that the government cares to recover instituional normality in the country, which is evidently not the case. D.R.

  2. Concur! The guys in charge are not amateurs. They had a lot of time to hammer out a strategy, and they have a lot more information than we do. I hate sitting on the sidelines and wondering what the plan is as much as everyone else does. But, at this moment, we have to trust that they know what they are doing.

  3. If the MUD will be one or two seats short of supermajority, what are the chances of someone from PSUV jumping the ship and joining the MUD?

  4. “…what are the chances of someone from PSUV jumping the ship and joining the MUD?” They would be framed for some kind of misconduct and arrested probably. …or disqualified by the TSJ. Anything that benefits MUD will be “disqualified” by the TSJ. That’s why you might as well confront them now and get it over with.

    • Runrunes reported in the 10 most important of the afternoon … that a diputado to the AN from Guarenas (IIRC) resigned today. Brings up the question I’ve had, but have felt to stupid to ask, is the supermajority counted on the basis of sitting assemblymen, or on the basis of seats? E.g. if ALL of PSUV were to resign, leaving – hypothetically – 109 MUD diputados, how could anyone rule that they did not constitute the supermajoruty on the basis that they do hold 112 of the 167 seats even though 55 of those are empty, vacant, cold, available, etc.? NOT that it makes a difference, really, or that I changed my mind that the guys from Amazonas were duly elected and certified (by CNE) and must take their seats.

      It’s easy for me to blah-blah because I’m not living in Venezuela, but possibly a bit of an outside viewpoint might give some ideas someone might find useful. I apologize if I’m off-track, but it seems to me pretty much everyone knows what’s happening, and it’s a question of finding a way to resolve democracy peacefully with words and pen.

      • Guarico, not Guarenas. Sorry. Here’s the link:

        http://runrun.es/nacional/243407/las-10-noticias-mas-importantes-a-esta-hora-de-la-tarde-161.html

        “Diputado oficialista del estado Guárico renunció al PSUV

        El diputado oficialista Jesús Cepeda Villavicencio, representante de la Asamblea Nacional por el estado Guárico, expresó su decisión de retirarse de las filas del partido que conforma por no estar de acuerdo con la manera como se están manejando las situaciones en el Estado.”

      • “on the basis that they do hold 112 of the 167 seats” should be
        “on the basis that they do NOT hold …etc..” (sheesh – along with a spell-checker I need a “did you mean _____?”)

        • I don’t think anyone has that answer, Gringo, whether the lack of of 3 deputies affects the 2/3rds question. T

          That is probably a question that the TSJ would have to answer, but who here (or anywhere) trusts that the answer is that the calculus is based on actual sitting deputies vs. total deputies?

          Safest to presume the TSJ would rule against the MUD keeping 2/3rds, given that we are 45.674 to 0 losers in TSJ rulings.

          Regarding the Guarico guy, quitting the PSUV does not automatically mean he’ll vote MUD, right? He quit the party, not the Assembly.

          • Thanks RobertoN, yes, as you say the TSJ would probably rule on it, but Ramos Allup in his interview said they still have the majority with 109 over 54, and 163 seats. I believe a vacant seat is recorded as a null vote. The whole situation of a court nullifying a congress is absurd posturing to begin with, but we live in a world which is at its best partially sane. I’m thinking the Guarico diputado can’t be the only one to see his political ass at risk. At once the good and bad of politicians is that they are politicians and represent their constituency, and jumping fences is no big deal if it gets them reelected. Kissing babies, waving flags, and all that. Some may have more firm convictions, but see their convictions better served on the other side – at least part of the time. There’s hope, but a long road to undo damage to industry, crops, livestock and morale.

  5. “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.”

    That is not the right precedent to invoke.
    Agreeing with something where you have no say and no real recourse is a logical move since it gives you a chance to play a game that you could eventually win, as it happened.

    Backing down now will simply mean de facto nullifying the AN.
    From then on the AN will be like
    Tsvangirai in Zimbabwe, a lame figure that serves to
    legitimize the government and share in the blame.

    If the government ignores and nullifies the AN it must do it blatantly,
    in a clearly illegally fashion
    and the opposition must hammer that point
    and keep the blame for the crisis on the government shoulders.

    Going along with illegal decisions and agreeing to reducing their own powers
    and subjugating themselves to an illegal court
    would only help the government.
    In exchange for what? A cushy seat in the congress palace?

    Autosuicidio pues.
    They would be degrading their own position.
    That is no way to play chess.

  6. “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.”

    That is not the right precedent to invoke.
    Agreeing with something where you have no say and no real recourse is a logical move since it gives you a chance to play a game that you could eventually win, as it happened.

    Backing down now will simply mean de facto nullifying the AN.
    From then on the AN will be like
    Tsvangirai in Zimbabwe, a lame figure that serves to
    legitimize the government and share in the blame.

    If the government ignores and nullifies the AN it must do it blatantly,
    in a clearly illegally fashion
    and the opposition must hammer that point
    and keep the blame for the crisis on the government shoulders.

    Going along with illegal decisions and agreeing to reducing their own powers
    and subjugating themselves to an illegal court
    would only help the government.
    In exchange for what? A cushy seat in the congress palace?

    Autosuicidio pues.
    They would be degrading their own position.

  7. Sorry Raul, it is not chess, it is Go! 🙂

    My opinion was that they should not have sworn in the 3 members and that this was a strategic blunder (which we will never now, since we do not know the alternative development). Now that they did it, they have to own it. That is, of course, assuming they had planned a few moves ahead. I don’t like it though.

  8. I don’ t know if you play chess or not. I play everyday even though I am not a grandmaster. It is a known fact in chess that if you have a winning attack, you should never stop it. Having the initiative is always more important than material advantage. Also, active pieces are better that passive pieces. Never in chess having a passive position is better. A good player will even sacrifice pieces in order to be more active. I don’ t really think you can actually compare chess strategy with politics, but maybe some principles are the same. In fact, I say that if politics are played as chess, then the people are screwed because it is not a peaceful game but one about domination and subjugation. I say all of this because I am concerned about how little comprehension of strategy have those who precisely speak more of the importance of strategy in the MUD. The truth is It doesn’ t matter whether we accept the TSJ decision or not, because the point is that no matter what we do the goverment will always try to fuck it up because that it’ s nature. So if we really are inteligent we must look for a way to expose that and to revert it. For instance, I think that right now confronting them is better than not confronting them because even though we don’ t have the strenght to beat the goverment in a fight, at least a fight will force them to expose themselves and that gives us a little compensation in our position. If we simply wait, we will get nowhere. In fact, that’ s their objetive: to restrain us from doing what we have to do. Si no hubiéramos juramentado a los diputados, igual siempre podían jugar la carta de usar el TSJ. Si hubiéramos intentado atacar el TSJ primero, entonces igual hubieran sido la carta del conflicto de poderes. La diferencia es que ahora los obligamos a reaccionar. Sólo es una reflexión.

    • Well said i.

      Our moves should force the regime to progresivelly burn stages in their cover up until only open violence and represion are left in their arsenal. That is one thing they have preared fro systematicallt for 15 yrs. and its also thir biggest weakness. SOme day people will just say enough is enuough and go for it. and they have to be stripped of all “democratic” and political” capital first.

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