The Constitutional Clash We Want

    MUD needs to take ownership of the Constitutional Clash, quickly leveraging its National Assembly majority into a compelling case for regime change. Here's how.

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    Quico needs to bajarle dos. Leaping from a couple of phone call between Aristóbulo Istúriz and Henry Ramos Allup to saying that “a stable cohabitation is just around the corner” must win the Diamond Orquidea in a slippery slope contest.

    To this day, almost everything the government’s done since December 6th suggests that the dreaded choque de poderes is on its way. The question now is what kind of constitutional clash do we want?

    And that kind of constitutional clash is the one that paves the way for meaningful policy reform, which likely depends on regime transition. To get it, we need to keep the initiative and lay the groundwork for the Recall Referendum (or one of the other constitutional avenues to push for a transition) as the clear endgame.

    I think it’s worth being explicit about my premises here, though I think my argument holds even if you think they’re wrong.

    1. Chavismo, having made the judiciary a subsidiary power to Miraflores, will unconstitutionally block any laws approved by the National Assembly that limit its hold on power to deal with the crisis.
    2. For that reason, no meaningful economic or political reform is really possible while Chavismo holds the presidency.
    3. That means that dealing with the economic crisis and enforcing our civil rights are not goals in conflict with one another: to get either, to get both, you need the presidency.

    If you agree with that, then focusing on any given policy area right now is besides the point. We need to coalesce around activating the remaining constitutional avenues to remove Chavismo from the presidency as soon as possible. Talk with people from either side of the oppo’s talanquera and you end up reaching the same conclusion. You get to that conclusion quicker with people on one side than the other, sure, but you get there just the same.

    But nuance matters. Each of the constitutional avenues available to deal with the crisis would – and should – lead to elections. Consequently, perceptions are relevant: we may be convinced that dealing with Venezuela’s precarious economic situation will have to wait until we’ve gone through regime transition, but the majority of Venezuelans (especially the two million Chavista voters who abstained on 6D) may not. So we need to activate a constitutional transition in terms that help us build the majority we’ll need in the election this is all leading up to.

    I bet this is what’s been in the back of Maduro’s mind when displaying the proactive excesses that we’ve witnessed ever after December 6th. President Maduro wants a constitutional clash that leaves our fingerprints on his economic crisis. How? Well, they shoot a bunch of noise bombs at the Opposition to prevent it from taking control of the agenda, while also presenting “initiatives” that the opposition will end up having to reject.

    Maduro’s “Economic Emergency Decree” was presented even before the AN was sworn in. His “ojalá la Asamblea me lo apruebe” suggests that they are aiming for the opposition to become contrarian to their “solutions”, while preventing the opposition from proposing any. Soon, it will be about rejecting additional credits for the vastly under budgeted Misiones. The government wants to convey that the opposition has no proposals to deal with the crisis, and that it’s blocking the way forward for the country. Están en campaña.

    In this context, the nuance presented above is an argument for urgency in the opposition, not for pause. There is no time to lose preparing the perfect laws, or discussing their right order in the agenda, or pondering whether legislative acts are considered null or not by the judiciary.

    None of that really matters. The opposition should not be distracted. It should be legislatively decisive, prompting Chavismo’s judiciary to block as many simple, yet transcendent power constraining laws in as little time as possible. There’s no shortage of good options: returning the control of BCV’s board to the legislative branch; granting amnesty to political prisoners; revoking the media law; widening the size of the constitutional chamber; approving the Misiones law… you name it.

    Right now, MUD is trying to do too much. When everything is a priority, nothing is. Instead of fourteen laws, MUD should fast-track a handful of tiros al piso: a short, cohesive bundle of simple yet powerful legal reforms that limit the government’s power drastically. These should be discussed, approved and sent to the Executive by mid-February. Say, five reforms. Six is too many. That should allow parliament to publish them in the Gaceta Legislativa by late-March.

    This way, the judiciary will be forced to make a choice early on: either let these reforms pass, or rule them unconstitutional. And such an unconstitutional and outrageous blockade of consensus initiatives to solve Venezuela’s economic and political woes would timely pave the narrative for pushing a Recall Referendum or any of the other constitutional avenues for a political transition.

    That’s the kind of constitutional clash that the opposition should be trying to provoke if it wants its solutions to the economic and political crises to move ahead. Now, I could have gotten it wrong all along: I might have been too nihilist, and after pushing all these reforms, the TSJ complies and we find ourselves with the non-monolithic dynamics that some highlighted from the very beginning.

    If that happens, we would wake up to a different Venezuela: we would have overnight institutional independence, freed political prisoners, plural media coverage on political events, and the capacity to deal with the economic crisis collectively and as best as we can given the hand we are dealt with. If that happens, well, that would make me the happiest wrong person in the world. But at the same time, I would argue that such judicial defection was most likely contingent on our aggressively prolific legislative strategy.

    Or put differently, having the legislature quickly blast law after law to the TSJ for “judicial interpretation” is a strictly dominant strategy for the opposition: regardless of whether institutional defection is possible or not, such attitude would always yield the best results by either legitimizing the call for a constitutional political transition, or by lending a hand for justices to jump the talanquera.

    So, after all the noise of the last couple of days, the MUD had better get its parliamentary act together; quickly present a few simple but powerful legislative reforms discussed and approved, and put the ball in the judiciary’s court.

    As of today, we can’t know whether defection from a significant number of Chavista judges is possible or not. But if the National Assembly tests them by sending them a bunch of laws in quick succession, we might just find out while still on time to call for a recall referendum and avoid “tener que calarnos a Aristóbulo hasta el 2019”.

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    I work in development economics for countries with governments that want to deal with (some of) their issues. I think I’m a fiscally-responsible progressive. I’ve thought a bit about the Political Economy of oil in Venezuela, and I worry about the politics of the things that need to happen. I think Rómulo Betancourt, Adolfo Suárez and George Washington were exemplary politicians. What I miss the most about Venezuela: My family, my friends, my weather, my food, my band, and teaching in my university.

    53 COMMENTS

    1. I don´t think we can get any TSJ judges defect. At least not now. If they don’t block a given Law in the TSJ, it’s because the government told them not to block it. It won’t be due to the judges’ independent thinking. They’re there to follow orders, and they’ll do just that.

      If and when the crisis reaches a true boiling point, and the government is looking absolutely defeated, then some judges might think its time to save their own skin. But until we reach that point, the TSJ should simply be considered part of PSUV, especially the ones appointed in December. Trying to appeal to their conscience is useless. Later, when the government is seconds away from falling, MUD might be able to appeal to their survival instinct.

    2. Quick, I need directions to the closest branch of the Jose Ramón Morales Arilla Fan Club.

      While disagreeing at a gut level with both Anabella’s and Raul’s positions (to different extents), I struggled to articulate the reasons why. Jose Ramon perfectly sums it all up: what is the endgame, and how to get there. The New Majority should NOT play defensive, and it should not forget that the game is being played for an audience only: the electorate if the next presidential election. Bravo.

    3. This is the game the oppo should be playing. The crisis will not end anytime soon and the oppo needs to be able to say to the electorate ‘We tried, we really tried, but they don’t want things to change so, if you want things to improve, get them out of there’

    4. Good post! hard to disagree with anything you wrote, Jose Ramon.

      As the commenter named “i” posted in another post, just as in chess, the MUD needs to go on the offensive and continue to do so without giving the regime the time to think.

      If I had to pick a starting point, I’d go with packing the court, but the MUD went with the granting of title to Mision Vivienda participants, which is a good populist measure.

      I just hope that it means giving folks a chance to pay for their property (even on VERY easy terms), rather than a straight handout.

    5. It makes sense, which also should be along the maximum exposure possible to keep undermining the chavizta base’s belief on their parthenon as they reject law after law that would fix the economy.

    6. With a two-thirds vote, the National Assembly may appoint (or abolish) no more than 15 ordinary and special Standing Committees to consider legislation pertaining to particular sectors of national activity. Temporary Committees may be appointed for purposes of research and study. The new majority of the AN should consider as part of its focus on the business of the nation priority usage of its legislative authority to establish committees to compel direct conversations about the Constitution with the leaders of Venezuela’s armed forces.

    7. This strategy takes the cake, confrontation in a concise and direct manner. A lot of these old timers sometimes forget that we’ve been “negotiating” for 17 years.

    8. This is the sharpest, smartest post written on any blog for a long time. Double Chapeau. Each chapter should be read twice. But since our job must be to cherry-pick even on virtual perfection..

      Heck I can’t find anything wrong here, and that’s profoundly disturbing. So no other option but to digress from the specific topic, “irse por la tangente”.. Sorry to bang on the same drum, but most of the muddy new 109 deputies will be bribed, one way or another. As always, in Latin America’s entire History. Especially since there is Chaos now, no justice, no separation of powers, yet. No accountability, total impunity, Still. But not for too long. New Mudista souls will be purchased, by the dozens. And that should not surprise anyone. We’re talking Accion Democratica Grand-pa Allup at the helm. And Aristobulo, and Cabello..Causa R, etc.

      You bet Ramos and Aribustoubulo, or whatever his funky name is, are not the only ones speaking late at night in secrecy. We’re talking multiple, daily pacts with the Devil, here, left and right. For sure.

      They will reach some sort of compromise, and for all effects and purposes, the crucial AN supermajority will be lost. If it wasn’t lost already. You can’t expect a country to change overnight, and Vzla still is what it has been for the past 57 years: highly corruptible.

        • You bet, as long as the right deal is struck.

          Disclaimer: Not All new Mudistas are being bribed. Just most of them.

          That’s why we need Leopoldo, Ledezma, Maria Corina: I trust THEM.

          • “Disclaimer: Not All new Mudistas are being bribed. Just most of them.”

            I find this kind of acusación alegre, on the basis of zero evidence of any sort, casually slandering people who’ve taken serious fucking risks with their actual lives on YOUR behalf to be…nauseabundas.

            Stomach turning.

            Just gross.

            En serio, revísate.

            • BTW on a technicality of the language used here:

              Agreed most of the new MUDistas (I read new assemblyman/woman/trans elected) surely are being presented with bribes and warnings/ threats by the regime.

              Now, agreeing with quico, thinking they are taking the bribes is a total slander and a show of the commenter’s own low moral ground, or his self view that only he/she is good enough to fight this war.

              I trust these pols are cut for the fight and will hold steady given the stakes at hand. I trust.
              And we will only start to see when individual decisions begin to tally for the coming legislative action.

              We will also begin to see if more assembly man show up to work, resign, have accidents or grow fat.

            • Maybe Trent should change his/her screen name to Sister Sledge?

              Oh, did I just do that?

              Cualquier parecido con otro troll es pura coincidencia vale.

            • Revisate tu, chico, y ese enorme ego que evidentemente te agobia..

              About the Specific topic, ad hominems aside..

              Torito, & Luis: this is just a friggin’ little blog, not a newspaper or TV. Anyone can voice their opinions. What you call “slander” is just one blogger’s opinion. Granted, I will never have proof that the majority of the new 109 Mudista deputies will accept bribes. But History tends to repeat itself. Tell when, in Venezuelan History, have the AN deputies been incorruptible. Clean, honest. When ??

              Do you think that during the 4 decades of AD/Copey they were impeccable, hard-working patriots without accepting a single favor, or millions in bribes? In that case you were not paying attention. Corruption has always been rampant in Vzla’s 3 branches of government. Remember Carlos Andres, Lusinchi, Pinerua, Caldera’s sons, Luis Herrera, etc, etc: ALL corrupt, and their Parlamentos too. Is that a secret? Or you forgot?

              Plus in Venezuela there’s no Justice now. ZERO. The new 109 MUD deputies know they can get away with murder. No FBI, no CIA, military is corrupt, Police, Sebin, Guardia all PUTRID to the bone. Is that a seceret too? So now the new 109 deputies will be saints? Were you born yesterday?

              Now what makes you think that Henry Derwick Allup and his 109 deputies will be any different? What makes you think that one of THE most Corrupt countries on Planet Earth will change, by some miracle, in 2016? Are they being fed something special today on their morning cereal? Have the new 109 deputies been enlightened by divine intervention, blessed by the new Pope? OF COURSE most of them will accept bribes. As always. Decade after decade. Politicians in Venezuela get there because they play the game. Nt all, but most, get rich, illegally. The few that don’t, have to be complicit, stay silent, and condone the corruption around them. And that’s not just Vzla, but most of Latin America, and to a lesser extend even the USA and Europe.

              So spare me the “slander” crap. Or the “troll” crap. It’s reality. A valid observation. What most people don’t have the balls to admit in public. Vzla is perhaps THE most corrupt government on the planet, except perhaps for Haiti, Nigeria or Iraq and Syria. Per Capita, per oil barrel stolen. And it’s not just Chavistas these past 17 years, Adecos like Ramos Allup, have always known to be highly corrupt.

              So my assumptions are very well founded, grounded in reality. Deal with it.
              And when the next corruption cases in the new MUD start piling up, the scandals, the guisos, year after year, simply remember, Vzla is Vzla. It doesn;t change overnight. That takes tough JUSTICE, Laws, Jails, Law enforcement, investigations, punishment, setting precedents.

              Right now it’s a free ride amid the utter chaos in Vzla for 109 deputies. Most will be bribed. Sooner or later. One way or another. AS ALWAYS, or worse, because there is no Law.

              Cappicce?

        • YES. Anyone up for defecting to the side that is actively sinking the ship? Anyone? [crickets chirping] Hello?

          Going once…going twice…

          • Well, there’s still time to join Aporrea, become Chavista-Lights populacheros, anti-maduro, but proChavez, Caprilistas, pero Chuistas y Aristobuleros, .. and get a piece of the next pie! Heck, we have Millions and millonas of supporters already! (Where’s my free ‘vivienda’ and new refrigerator you promised?)

            Meanwhile, the PDVSA mega-thugs, and the Derwicks of this world are acquiring new passports, growing beards.. putting up new fake companies in Barbados..

            • True, all of that is possible.

              However, even the most cynical, self-serving pol has to wonder if defecting would really in his best interests, given how PSUV got crushed on 6D. If a soccer team paid off the refs and then lost 7-0, would you EVER bet on them again?

            • Yeah, yeah, yeah, lots and lots of corruption, we get the message.

              What people is actually caring for is two things:

              1) Be able to work in peace.

              2) Not having the government actively trying to kill them.

              At least the adecos don’t go all day long mocking your misery just for fun.

    9. “we may be convinced that dealing with Venezuela’s precarious economic situation will have to wait until we’ve gone through regime transition, but the majority of Venezuelans (especially the two million Chavista voters who abstained on 6D) may not. So we need to activate a constitutional transition in terms that help us build the majority we’ll need in the election this is all leading up to.”

      Careful, rushing things up is what has let chavismo last 17 years.

    10. Great article, totally agree. Chavistas have shown themselves very adept at out manoeuvring the Oppo, same will happen again unless the Oppo takes control of the agenda from Day 1 and keeps the Maduro regime on the back foot. Long and short: now is not the time to vacillate but to act decisively and strategically. Any accommodation by the Oppo to the regime will end up being used by the regime against the Oppo: there’s no mileage whatsoever in seeking a modus vivendi with chavismo.

    11. I don’t like your how, but I agree on your what.

      We have it in our hands to take the presidency. My thing is I really have no trust for the MUD to handle a long term strategy like that. If they’re gonna take Maduro down, let them do it amidst fire and brimstone, make so much noise that people can’t hear themselves doubt. Do you really see VP having the pacience for such a plan?

      Or the people doing colas?

      Things have to happen fast. We have right now, as I see it, to fast options (and when we say fast, we mean the economy, stupid):

      1. Continue negotiating. This may seem drawn out, but if they are coming to the table it’s because they are gritting their teeth for the looming economic measures. They just need a gesture, like with withdrawing the Amazonas 3, to show that we are not out for blood. We just need sanity, coño! This is the Madurostroika option. Easy on us, easy on them, and easy on the people.

      2. Impeach the bastard. Si vamos a asumir nuestro legítimo poder, vamos a asumirlo. You want we should back off on some laws? We want you fuck off and give us Maduro. Quick, no building up, no opening up our flanks, like a band-aid. State of emergency, massive food supply opperations, temporary closing of all non essencial misiones and beefing up on the essencial ones (basically barrio adentro); if the Cubans pull back, use the famous goddamn MUD poder de convocatoria and get some emergency action Venezuelan doctors in there. Begin. Economic. Reform.

      Your solution, a drawn out stand-off, reeks of blood to me. If they didn’t take any of these light caresses laying down, imagine when we try to fuck them.

      We really oughtn’t to be fooled by the seeming stability of powers right now. This situation is tense as tense gets. Nobody is going to play a passive game.

      • Nacho,

        Impeachment won’t work, though. We have an Art.266 roadblock.

        You need an “antejuicio de mérito” to impeach, and guess who gets to give those out? Ayup…

        ->

        Artículo 266. Son atribuciones del Tribunal Supremo de Justicia:

        2. Declarar si hay o no mérito para el enjuiciamiento del Presidente o Presidenta de la República o quien haga sus veces, y en caso afirmativo, continuar conociendo de la causa previa autorización de la Asamblea Nacional, hasta sentencia definitiva.

        • Right, impeachment is impossible then.

          I only see one choice, then. A propaganda battle just seems unwinable to me. Chavistas want to believe Maduro more than they want to believe the MUD. They just need the slightest excuse. Anything from “son unos pendejos que no pueden cambiar nada… unos inútiles… y además quieren que hagamos un revocatorio?” to “I don’t trust them.” We cannot afford to give them time within the economic cataclism to weigh their loyalties. We need to act, and not just posture.

          I think, having read that article from the constitucion, that negotiating via Aristóbulo is the only way. Actions will corroborate to people what they know, that the gvt can’t fix the economy. It would be impossible to fool people into thinking the gvt was the one who came up with the solutions, negotiated as they may be. On the other hand, posturing will corroborate what they feel inside, that between a useless liberal ideology and a useless communist one, they prefer the communist one.

    12. I would like to point out that there are probably hundreds of subtle and clever ways you can ennact specific legal provisions which chisel away at the regimes control of both the judicial apparatus and the pparatus of government in ways that are difficult to oppose or contest or which place the regime in a legal cul d sac. I sure hope the people advising the Oppo leadership include lawyers endowed with a bit of imagination ……… You dont have to go for the big gut wretching legislative measures until the timing is exactly right .!!

    13. I think the Oppo is probably planning to do what is so ably suggested in this post–I only hope that they understand that the 2mm null voters’ patience may not last too long.

        • Pero “el pueblo” is alfabetisado, 95% can read and even write. That’s how you get a high school drop-out bus driver as “president” and Aristobulo or, what’s his name, the new “Economy minister” as co-pilots.

          Then again, all we gotta do is grow cebollas, green peppers. lechosa, banana and potatoes for ourselves, on every ranchito, and the Economy will thrive. No harina pan? Yuca,instead, or so said el Pajarito Comandante eterno supremo. It seems that, finally, people are waking up. Enough is enough.

    14. You can’t control the ship when a maniac is at the helm who understands nothing about weather, maps, navigation, piloting, and has lost contact with the ocean itself. You have to get the helm. But you can’t get it straightaway. Perhaps MUDs strategy was to force Maduro to formally plot a course (on Friday) that any expert in any land can attack as suicidal and ludicrous. Venezuela is racing toward failed statehood. At some time soon, if Maduro is going to insist on holding power, he has to effect changes because the country is melting down like a candle. The tipping point cannot be too far off, not with billions due, vastly reduced petro dollars rolling in and colas a mile long and no medicine. A public display of bankrupt ideas – as surely will be presented on Friday (if it happens) – or any long foray into windy speeches sans solutions, can only further erode confidence in the Chavistas ability to staunch the bleeding.

      • Does anybody actually know what is going to be asked for on Friday other than a bs report? I imagine that based on past history that they can’t help themselves but ask for an enabling law for Maduro to decree whatever he thinks to help the economy..and when the NA doesn’t approve it they go to the TSJ to have it approved? Maybe I have it all wrong but why wouldn’t they not seek decree powers for another year?

    15. Bravo Ramon. I applaud this as one of the best pieces I have read on this site. This IS the strategy that the opposition should adopt. Me thinks that your instruction in game theory as an economist is brilliantly displayed. I can volunteer to translate this article if someone can get it to la MUD.

    16. Ramon,

      Thanks. In all of the fog, your article provides some clarity that I have been missing for the last week. I truly hope someone in the MUD leadership is reading CC.

      • How many people in the MUD can read English? Wild guess: not the supermajority.. These blogs should be translated entirely for them, with a few key comments , edited. Hire Laureano Marquez for the job, checking with El Conde del Guacharo for colloquial Criollo jokes. Then skype it to Aristobulo and Henry, in Spanish, all they understand. Then simplify it for Masburro.

    17. Great Post.

      All I know is that time is against us. A constitutional crisis from nwo to six months from now is Chavismo failing to respect people’s will. That’s the stuff of applying the Democratic Charter, OAS’, Mercorsur’s, Unasur’s, etc.

      But a Constitutional Crisis in 2017, is yet another Venezuelan crisis. as in Venezuelan politics just being Venezuelan politics. The kind where those institutions call both parties talk, demonstrators to stop picketing and rioting, and paramilitary groups to stop shooting people. You know, both sides “de parte y parte”.

    18. Back on pesimist mode, I’m not sure backing down on the Amazonas representatives was a good move, it reminds me a little of the Salserolazo.

      I fear we’ll end up wining the votes, but losing the election. On the face, of an apparent new modus vivendi, people demobilize and go back to normal, another issue catches the eye of the international community, and six months from now, or a year and a half from now, comes the blow to the AN.

      Our leverage is (was) the two thirds majority. That allows us to call a Constituent Assembly, a Recall Referendum, modify Organic Laws (Central Bank, Supreme Tribunal), appoint the Ombudsman, the Comptroller General, appoint justices, etc.

      A 3/5 majority can pass some laws, but the Supreme Tribunal can just strike them if the Government doesn’t like them. So they can only pass laws if the Government is OK with them, and that is what we’ve had since 2000.

      Hell, the Supreme Tribunal may end up gutting some other functions of the AN, through farfetched interpretations. Remember when Maduro was acting president instead of Diosdado? That was the Supreme Tribunal. It may end up ruling that preventing the president from flying abroad affects his right to free movement, that cutting the budget for some government program violates the progressivity of people’s social rights, etc.

      Boy I hope I’m wrong. But I just feel MUD surrendered its leverage in exchange for something it already had: legitimacy to enact laws.

      • The Supreme court will block almost everything. What Isn’t blocked will be misrepresented, misapplied, sabotaged. But the Supreme Court will be losing legitimacy. And the assembly should legislate at its own place. Eventually they can pick the point to have a clash. At that juncture we will see if anything happens. But the key is to keep people informed. pirate am may be required.

    19. Great post J.R.

      As most that have commented on your piece, I am in total agreement with it.

      I saw a couple of comments suggesting that there should be a spanish version so all of you with diputado friends can forward it to them. As such, and not without asking for J.R.’s permission and review before is sent anywhere, I took the liberty of transalating the piece, with slight modifications in language but not meaning:

      ” Al día de hoy, casi todo lo que el gobierno ha hecho desde 06 de diciembre sugiere que el temido choque de poderes está en camino. La pregunta ahora es qué tipo de choque constitucional es lo que queremos?

      Y ese tipo de enfrentamiento constitucional es el que abre el camino para la reforma política significativa, de lo que probablemente depende de transición de régimen. Para conseguirlo, tenemos que mantener la iniciativa y sentar las bases para el Referéndum Revocatorio (o cualquiera de las otras vías constitucionales para impulsar una transición) como la meta a lograr.

      Creo que vale la pena ser explícito acerca de mis premisas aquí, aunque creo que mi argumento es válido incluso si usted piensa que están equivocadas.

      El chavismo, habiendo hecho el judicial un poder subsidiario de Miraflores, inconstitucionalmente bloqueara las leyes aprobadas por la Asamblea Nacional que limitan su permanencia en el poder para hacer frente a la crisis.

      Por esa razón, ninguna reforma económica o política significativa es realmente posible, mientras que el chavismo tenga la presidencia.

      Eso significa que enfrentar la crisis económica y hacer cumplir nuestros derechos civiles no son objetivos conflictivos entre sí: para enfrentar la primera y lograr lo segundo, o ambas metas, se necesita la presidencia.
      Si está de acuerdo con eso, entonces centrarse en cualquier área política que no logre este objetivo en este momento, es perder el tiempo. Tenemos que enfocarnos en torno a la activación de las vías constitucionales restantes para eliminar el chavismo de la presidencia tan pronto como sea posible. Hablen con la gente de ambos lados de talanquera de la opo y llegaran a la misma conclusión. Tenemos la oportunidad de que la conclusión más rápida sea con la gente de un lado que del otro, claro, pero llegaremos al mismo lugar.

      Pero los matices importan. Cada una de las vías constitucionales disponibles para hacer frente a la crisis lograran – y deben – conducir a elecciones. En consecuencia, las percepciones son relevantes: podemos estar convencidos de que tomar medidas para atacar la precaria situación económica de Venezuela tendrían que esperar hasta que hayamos pasado por la transición de régimen, pero la mayoría de los venezolanos (especialmente los dos millones de votantes chavistas que se abstuvieron en 6D) no pueden hacerlo. Así que tenemos que activar una transición constitucional en términos que nos ayuden a construir la mayoría que necesitaremos en las elecciones a las cuales conducirán nuestros esfuerzos.

      Apuesto a que esto es lo que ha estado pensando Maduro al mostrar los excesos pro-activos que hemos presenciado después del 6 de diciembre. El Presidente Maduro quiere un enfrentamiento constitucional para lograr ensuciar nuestras huellas en la crisis económica. ¿Cómo? Bueno, ellos disparan un montón de bombas de ruido a la oposición para evitar que tomen el control de la agenda, mientras presenta “iniciativas” que la oposición va a terminar teniendo que rechazar.

      El “Decreto de Emergencia Económica” de Maduro se presentó incluso antes de la AN fue juramentada. Su “ojalá la Asamblea me lo apruebe” sugiere que su objetivo es que la oposición solo sea contraria a sus “soluciones”, al tiempo que evita a la oposición de proponer alguna. De manera siguiente, su discurso será sobre el rechazo de los créditos adicionales para la Misiones que cuentan con muy bajo presupuesto. El gobierno quiere dar a entender que la oposición no tiene propuestas para hacer frente a la crisis, y que está bloqueando el camino a la salida de la crisis económica del país. Están en campaña.

      En este contexto, el matiz presentado arriba es un argumento a favor de la urgencia en la oposición, no para una pausa. No hay tiempo que perder en la preparación de leyes perfectas, o discutir su orden justo en el orden del día, o reflexionar sobre si los actos legislativos se consideran nulo o no por el poder judicial.

      Nada de eso realmente importa. La oposición no se debe distraer. Debe ser legislativamente decisiva, lo que rete a la judicatura del chavismo para que bloquee la mayor cantidad de leyes simples, pero trascendentes, que limiten el poder del chavismo, en el menor tiempo posible. No hay escasez de buenas opciones: devolver el control de la junta directiva de BCV al Poder Legislativo; la concesión de una amnistía a los presos políticos; la revocación de la ley de medios; ampliar el tamaño de la sala constitucional; la aprobación de la ley de Misiones … lo que sea.

      En este momento, la MUD está tratando de hacer demasiado. Cuando todo es prioritario, nada lo es. En lugar de catorce leyes, la MUD debe impulsar rápidamente un puñado de leyes de antiojito: un pequeño paquete, de reformas legales simples, cohesivas, pero poderosas, que limiten drásticamente el poder del gobierno . Estas deben ser discutidas, aprobadas y enviadas al Ejecutivo a mediados de Febrero a mas tardar. Digamos, cinco reformas. Seis es demasiado. Esto debería permitir que el parlamento pueda publicarlas en la Gaceta a finales de marzo.

      De esta manera, el poder judicial se verá obligado a tomar una decisión de inmediato: o bien dejar que estas reformas pasen, o declararlas inconstitucionales. Y con un bloqueo tanto inconstitucional como indignante de las iniciativas de consenso para resolver los problemas económicos y políticos de Venezuela ,sería el momento oportuno para considerar solicitar un Referéndum Revocatorio o cualquiera de las otras vías constitucionales para una transición política.

      Ese es el tipo de choque constitucional que la oposición debe estar tratando de provocar si quiere que sus soluciones a las crisis económicas y políticas puedan avanzar. Ahora, yo podría haber analizado mal todo el entorno: pude haber sido demasiado nihilista, y si después de proponer todas estas reformas, el TSJ cumple y nos encontramos con la dinámica no monolítica que algunos han resaltado desde el principio.

      Si eso ocurre, nos levantábamos a una Venezuela diferente:de la noche a la manana tendríamos independencia institucional, los presos políticos serian liberados, abría cobertura plural de los medios de comunicación sobre los acontecimientos políticos y la capacidad para hacer frente a la crisis económica de una manera colectiva y con las mejores herramientas disponibles. Si eso sucede, bueno, eso me haría ser la persona equivocada más feliz del mundo. Pero al mismo tiempo, yo diría que tal defección judicial era contingente probablemente a nuestra agresivamente prolífica estrategia legislativa .

      O dicho de otro modo, lograr que la AN ejecute una explosión de leyes para que el TSJ de su “interpretación judicial” es una estrategia estrictamente dominante para la oposición: con el supuesto negado de que ocurra deserción institucional , esa actitud siempre obtendrá los mejores resultados, ya sea legitimación de la convocatoria de una transición política constitucional, o darle una mano a los jueces para que salten la talanquera.

      Así que, después de todo el ruido de los últimos dos días, la MUD debe ponerse las pilas parlamentarias; presentar rápidamente algunas reformas legislativas simples pero poderosas,discutirlas y aprobarlas, y poner la pelota en el lado del TSJ.

      En este momento, no podemos saber si la defección de un número significativo de jueces chavistas es posible o no. Pero si la Asamblea Nacional los pone a prueba mediante el envío de un grupo de leyes en rápida sucesión, para ver si tenemos tiempo para impulsar un referéndum revocatorio y evitar “Tener que calarnos una Aristóbulo hasta el 2019”.

    20. To all the people moaning that the source of our power and negotiating stance is the now lost 2/3 majority; news flash: no it’s not.

      It’s the economy, stupid.

      • Nacho – What is the basis for your statement that the 2/3rds majority has been lost? I don’t think it’s lost at all. I don’t know that for sure. I checked U.S. law, to see what happens with vacant seats. A quickie Google “congress voting vacant seats” found “A vacant congressional district does not have voting representation.” Googling “voting rules in congress” (again, this is US law, but it probably applies in other democracies) turned up “However, for the House to pass a bill under suspension of the rules requires two-thirds of members voting to agree, so this method is not designed for bills that do not have supermajority support in the House.” (On the congress dot gov site.) The important phrase would seem to be “members voting.” My take pending more specifics, is that a vacant seat is a null vote, and the supermajority (2/3rds) is determined by the proportion of yes or no votes, not the number of seats.

        • The problem, Gringo, is that in Venezuela’s Constitution it is not very clear. There are times when it states “with the votes of those present” and times when it states “with the votes of its members”.

          For many of the more “punitive” measures it can take, it’s the “votes of its members”.

          Since we do not have an impartial Supreme Court, you can guess how they are going to rule as to the interpretation of “votes of its members”

          • Venezuelans have many wonderful characteristics, but one of their less endearing qualities is a near pathological aversion to simplicity and clarity when it comes to obligations of all forms. This extends from the exact starting time of a social event to the use of ambiguous language in legal contracts. The Venezuelan Constitution reflects this.

    21. Great article. That’s a lot of thought and balance, there. And it’s not “slick” or underhanded. It’s very upfront and very needed. Giving title to the living spaces that have been given seems like a good move, too – interesting to see what happens. The suggestions in the article sound very good. Any MUD move the PSUV opposes, but the TSJ does not block, would be major news.

      Communism sees laws as an obstacle to establishing itself, just as it sees private property as an obstacle – or a bank to be robbed. (So does fascism.) It seems that in Venezuela, the plan was to use laws to establish “communism” which could then revise the laws to suit itself. Paradoxically, communism seems to always shoot itself in the foot. I mean, with Russia, China, Vietnam, even Cuba, and probably other countries too, moving away from communism, you would figure it would be plain stupid to try to move towards it.

    22. My understanding is that Amazonas has a substantial indigenous population. How are they taking this? Could they possibly turn violent?

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