More Coups

Your daily briefing for Wednesday, October 26th, 2016. Translated by Javier Liendo.

For Thursday, October 26, 2016. Translated by Javier Liendo.

There hasn’t been an act of force to justify the application of article 333 of the Constitution

Ignoring the destruction caused by chavismo’s paramilitary colectivos in Mérida’s Municipal Council this Tuesday, Defense minister Vladimir Padrino López read a statement on behalf of the Armed Forces, condemning the National Assembly’s declaration of a coup d’Etat in Venezuela on Sunday: “There hasn’t been an act of force to justify the application of article 333 of the Constitution,” he read, in a text that defines him as a PSUV militant, instead of a member of the military.

Padrino López assumes that declaring the breakdown of the constitutional order only seeks to diminish institutionality to oust the government, claiming that the Armed Forces won’t respond to any calls for insubordination; a message to his own sector, I guess. He dared to reflect on the existence of two opposed and antagonizing models, while declaring his unconditional loyalty to one of them, proving his partiality and how it tarnishes the pre-eminence of Human Rights established in the Constitution. It was a vile statement, more proof of the institutional hijacking that Venezuela’s experiencing.

Trial against Nicolás

The National Assembly’s opposition majority approved an agreement to start assessing and determining Nicolás’s political responsibility in violating the Constitution, Human Rights and Democracy. Most of the PSUV caucus went to the session in uniform for the march, lots of red and lots of tricolor; if they had dedicated the same effort to the quality of their speeches, they could’ve come up with better arguments. The agreement compels Nicolás to appear before Parliament next November 1st for questioning. The Assembly declared permanent session to discuss and determine the measures they’ll take in view of the violation of the constitutional order. They also created a Special Committee to analyze the possibility for the Legislative Branch to establish the president’s abandonment of office; they ratified the commitment for the restitution of the constitutional order and their decision to submit their complaints regarding Human Rights violations to international institutions.

“Disuelve la Asamblea, el pueblo se restea”

That’s what Nicolás’s meagre audience was chanting. Yesterday’s speech was madness, a script proving power and the denial of reality. Nicolás dared to explain the institutional crisis as Barack Obama’s “petering out,” because the US president wants to damage Venezuela before leaving power. Without saying a word about his tour’s complete failure -the oil barrel price has been dropping for three days-, he called opposition leaders “who believe in democracy” to accept dialogue, right after insulting -with indecent language- governor Henrique Capriles, with homophobic jokes and accusations about cocaine use.

He convened the Nation’s Defense Council, formed by all Public Powers, for a meeting today at 11:00 am to “evaluate the National Assembly’s parliamentary coup d’Etat and the plan of dialogue for peace.” He dedicated important words to the National Assembly’s Speaker, promising to treat him with decency and then claiming: “I’ll give Ramos Allup a last chance to enter the constitutional ring.” I hope the three former presidents and the Nuncio of Buenos Aires watched the cadena, a great summary of why dialogue hasn’t taken place, even more now after Nicolás’s discouraging announcement that he’ll participate in Sunday’s meeting. Nicolás suspended his weekly monologue, guess why.


they’ve followed with great concern “the different ways in which the State has imposed serious limitations on pluralism in the exercise of political rights and freedom of expression

The Inter American Commission of Human Rights and its Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression condemned the shutdown of spaces for political participation in Venezuela, and warned about its impact on democracy. The IACHR’s statement says that they’ve followed with great concern “the different ways in which the State has imposed serious limitations on pluralism in the exercise of political rights and freedom of expression, both through the application of the law and outside the law“ in Venezuela, deploring the obstacles imposed by the authorities to prevent Venezuelans from participating in free and trustworthy elections. They also mention the gradual suspension of the National Assembly’s constitutional powers, the arbitrary detention and incarceration of opponents and the profound weakening of branch autonomy, demanding the government to: “respect and guarantee the right to freedom of expression and the right to participation of all sectors in the country’s political life.”

Meanwhile, an important group of Venezuelan civil institutions wrote a text addressing OAS SecGen Luis Almagro, explaining how the recall referendum’s suspension has closed all democratic channels to solve conflicts between Venezuelans and demanding the activation of the Democratic Charter and an immediate meeting of the Permanent Council to assess the situation, with the goal of promoting diplomatic measures to contribute to restoring democratic institutionality in Venezuela.

Six more months

The Supreme Tribunal of Justice’s Constitutional Chamber issued a decision that extends the registration renewal of political parties for six months. The deadline to comply with this process is now May 2017, instead of January. The TSJ also ordered biometric scanning for renewing political parties, as well as verifying the payrolls of registered parties, a way to prove and prevent double militancy. Strange, really strange; this has been an obsession for CNE rectora Tania D’Amelio, who hasn’t stopped saying that 62 out of 67 parties registered in the CNE have expired credentials. It was also a surprise for some PSUV spokespeople. Unless this is an incentive for dialogue, I don’t understand this concession.

Political crisis worsens. Nicolás came back ahead of schedule. His speech doesn’t contribute to calming his party. Padrino López supported Nicolás, the Assembly summoned him and he summoned Ramos Allup. I doubt the lawmaker will attend the summons, just like Nicolás won’t go to Parliament. Venezuela isn’t Brazil, his audience chanted in Miraflores. Just check inflation and shortage rates and you’ll see they’re right. The opposition takes to the streets today to protest. Further protests depend on the success of this one. See you on the highway!

Naky Soto

Naky gets called Naibet at home and at the bank. She coordinates training programs for an NGO. She collects moments and turns them into words. She has more stories than freckles.