A Desperate Ploy Reveals an Unprecedented Split in PSUV

As Chavista governors attempt an end-run behind the TSJ to kill the recall referendum, the cracks in PSUV unity are all evident and serious.

Within the last hour, three separate chavista governors have announced that they have either filed injunctions to stop the Recall process in their states, or that those injunctions have now been granted.

What looks at first like a major blow against the recall should instead be read as a sign of an unprecedented split within PSUV, the ruling party. Why? Because these three governors — Ameliach, El Aissami and Rangel Gómez — have had to go to state tribunals where they live to seek these rulings. State tribunals in Venezuela are weak, barely relevant at this level, where practice has always been to file injunctions directly at the PSUV-controlled Supreme Court (TSJ).

Read just between the lines and the dynamic here is clear: these guys tried to get a TSJ ruling to stop the recall and couldn’t get it. Now they’re trying to force the tribunal’s hand: strong-arming Calixto Ortega and Nicolás Maduro into handing down a ruling they’ve had reason not to hand down so far.

The game just got extremely dangerous. TSJ will now have to rule, and either swallow the humiliation of being dictated to by lower courts and accelerating a highly volatile protest agenda, or against them, in an unprecedented rebuff of powerful chavista faction heads.