On Tuesday, the National Assembly(AN) held what, on paper, would be its most important session ever…for the second time in this year. Turns out the first time you announce to the world you’re going to hold a political trial to hold the President accountable, the world sits up and takes notice. The second time? It rolls its collective eyes.
It’s a shame it won’t have much impact, because this session was way enthralling in its own way. It was certainly better than the completely demobilizing dialogue fiasco that short-circuited the last attempt.
Things went off smoothly, they even met quórum on the first try this time. Progress!
Recently released political prisoner and elected diputado Gilberto Sojo was welcomed and finally sworn in to his position. Freedom is always good news.
After a brief, insipid speech, Tomás Guanipa made room for Freddy Guevara, one of the few lawmakers who openly pushed back against suspending the trial last month. He addressed the PSUV bench directly, asking how much the Venezuelan people would have to suffer over the government’s ineptitude.
It’s a question I ask myself daily, and the answer is as discouraging as ever.
It felt nice, hopeful, and like a small step in the right direction. But we’re in the realm of symbols here, and people’s hunger out there is anything but symbolic.
PSUV couldn’t just stand by and let this Pokemon chaser call them out on being assholes, so they sent their heavyweight up to the dais: the legendary Pedro Carreño made a quick speech to note the juicio político doesn’t really appear anywhere in the Constitution.
It’s not exactly news that Art. 222 is being stretched beyond recognition here, but then again, which part of the Constitution isn’t? At this point, no one seems to care.
Carreño then recalled how the TSJ openly
forbade “discouraged” the opposition from taking on such a reasonable “defiant” attitude through its last notorious November 15th ruling. Finally, in a classy move, the whole PSUV bench walked out of the plenary session in a huff.
I guess they still had some Bs. 100 banknotes to get rid of.
A couple more diputados made statements. Props go to Bolívar diputado Américo Di Grazia, who brought the whole Arco Minero affair back in for a kicking. The social and environmental price the country will have to pay for this particular Maduro whim will be a huge burden for coming generations and the planet.
UNT’s Enrique Márquez once again underlined how Maduro had done everything in his power (which pretty absolute) to kill the recall referendum. His speech felt far removed from Timoteo Zambrano’s shameful declarations yesterday. It’ll be interesting to see which UNT is the real UNT. I’m personally betting for option two.
Then Venezuela’s favorite AN president took to the mic.
Henry Ramos gave one of his classic speeches: a lot of fancy words, his wonderful eloquence and a pretty moving fifteen minutes.
After explaining why Nicolas Maduro must be considered a “state official” (and is therefore covered by article 222) and clearing up that the AN can declare the political responsibility of all such figures, he announced the long awaited verdict.
As expected, Nico was found responsible of mauling Venezuela’s constitutional order, violating Venezuelans’ human rights and devastating our nation’s economy.
The document he read out was long, as you might expect an indictment of this catastrophic misgovernment might be. The AN’s line of reasoning cites that the President has a constitutional duty to guarantee decent living conditions for the people, that he has concentrated pretty much the entire power of the State in his own hands through unconstitutional Emergency Decrees, that he has deliberately blocked the RR process and made a mockery of the Constitution’s separation of powers.
The AN announced it would go to every institutional instance, specifically the Public Prosecutor’s Office (Fiscalía General) and Poder Ciudadano — Maduro-controlled puppets, to be sure — to request an antejuicio de mérito (a constitutionally mandated ruling establishing that a high official can be tried) against the President.
After rushing through the rest of the document, the place broke into rapturous applause, followed by a purely formal vote.
Aprobado por unanimidad- said Henry Ramos. He signed off on it and, poof! it was all over.
The session was great fun to watch, it reminded me of how I felt while hearing those first impressive Ramos Allup speeches back in January. It felt nice, hopeful, and like a small step in the right direction. But we’re in the realm of symbols here, and people’s hunger out there is anything but symbolic.
Not to be outdone, Venezuela’s Supreme Tribunal (TSJ) swiftly proceeded to designate the two National Electoral Council board members whose periods expire in December, a clearly retaliatory move against the AN, whose constitutional mandate includes…approving CNE appointments. Apparently, TSJ still thinks the AN is in rebellion (desacato), despite the fact that 3 Amazonas deputies voluntarily resigned from their elected posts so that peace could reign over parliament again (or dialogue could continue to stall forever).
An ordinary session to make “extremely important decisions” was called for tomorrow.
Amanecerá y veremos.