On Friday, Vice-president Tareck El Aissami, together with every single member of the 32 minister cabinet turned up at the Supreme Tribunal of Justice to take a dump on the Constitution. In direct, unambiguous and cara’e’tabla violation of the explicit mandate in Article 244 of the 1999 Constitution, they gave their 2017 Accountability speech not to the elected National Assembly, but to the the gaggle of crony pseudo-judges who make up the Supreme Tribunal of Justice, and to its new Chief Justice, Maikel Moreno.

Summing up, this Great Occassion of State consisted of a designated drug kingpin reading a speech to a convicted murderer.

This was not a surprise. Venezuela-watchers never for a moment dreamed Maduro would subject himself to critical scrutiny once more. This event, however, felt especially insulting. Punches to the face hurt, even if you know they’re coming.

For once, the event not broadcast on a national cadena. It lasted little more than hour, beggining at 11:30 am with El Aissami excusing himself for not presenting the whole thing at the Assembly; arguing that it had been impossible due to the lawmakers, whom he referred to as traitors, refusing to comply with the very same Constitution they were breaking in that act.

“The foundations of the Legislative Palace have been smirched” he said. Smirched by the democratic process known as elections, he ought to have clarified.

After a couple minutes of chavismo’s tropical take on Orwell’s newspeak (along with some anti-Almagro ranting,) the VP started showing some powerpoint slides.

 

“The foundations of the Legislative Palace have been smirched” he said. Smirched by the democratic process known as elections, he ought to have clarified.

He praised the efficiency of last year’s energy-saving drive, forgetting that the reduction in power demand was made possible by the wholesale destruction of the country’s economy. He then pivoted to a recognition of the “incredible” work Venezuela had done in last year’s Summer Olympic Games. Three medals: Two silvers, one bronze; the best result Venezuela’s ever achieved, yes, but not even half of what our “evil” neighbor Colombia got, after applying effective funding schemes.

Then things got real, as he brought the charts.

Not much is going up in Venezuela these days, other than prices. One such thing is the minimum wage, which rose some 500% last year. According to El Aissami, this shows how committed the government is to protecting the working class. Of course, inflation was around 600% (we don’t know exactly, because they won’t tell us) which poses the question: is it that he doesn’t get the difference between nominal and real values, or is he just pretending not to get it?

One way or another, the working class can buy much less today with its new minimum wage than a year ago; or 20 years ago, for that matter, before the 35 wage hikes chavismo is so proud to have decreed.

According to El Aissami, poverty also has been markedly reduced since Chávez was first elected 18 years ago; even after a recent ENCOVI study shows we are arguably now poorer than Haiti. Moments later, the Vice-President also assured us that life expectancy has increased to 75 years. I’d like to see him or our Health Minister explaining that to people dying at public hospitals due to the lack of antibiotics.

He also put in a word for our universities, claiming that since chavismo took power, over 2.8 million students have enrolled in higher education. What he did not mention is that autonomous universities have been forced to accept more people than they can take in order to do so; also working with extremely short budgets from years now. Similarly El Aissami remarked that school enrollment has doubled during the last two decades. It’s a shame most part of those kids will drop out to become bachaqueros or pranes. Some of them will simply be beaten to death by their classmates before that. Oh, the The New Man.

He also promised that CLAP grocery bags and Carnets de la Patria will empower the people and lead to the long-promised “supreme happiness”, even though both elements are an evident threat to the already mauled social rights of the Venezuelan people.

He closed by assuring all Venezuelans were represented in that TSJ auditorium full of unelected judges, because #FuckLogic.

Finally, he took the chance to thank the Armed Forces for granting an adequate food supply to the whole country while being the guardians of our food sovereignty. He’s right, in a way: the Armed Forces really do control pretty much every aspect of the food distribution process, from its arrival to La Guaira in some overbilled Mexican container, to its sale to people lining for hours at stores and abastos. They are directly responsible for rocketing hunger to levels never seen before in this half of the world.

The whole thing had a clearly militaristic tone. Flattery aimed at the FANB and Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino as well as imaginary parallelisms between our current crisis and the Battle of Carabobo were recurrent in El Aissami’s speech. This also isn’t new: militarism is one of the key features of chavismo, but during the last few weeks the Men in Olive Green seem to have become particularly important for the government and its discourse.

Venezuelan ministers plainly don’t run the country.

El Aissami’s particular Memoria y Cuenta couldn’t end without a nod to drugs. The VP announced the new Misión Justicia Socialista; whose main target will be to guarantee the safety of the whole Venezuelan pueblo (not that we had heard that before or anything) and to fight a “relentless battle against drug trafficking.” It’s a bit like putting Jack the Ripper in charge of a Domestic Violence Shelter.

Before finishing, El Aissami said the sanctions that the Treasury Department placed on him and his testaferro, Samark López, were a clear aggression to Venezuela as a whole, without really explaining why. He went on to say how satisfied he was to be in the “American Empire’s” spotlight. He closed by assuring all Venezuelans were represented in that TSJ auditorium full of unelected judges, because #FuckLogic.

After the speech, every single one of the 32 ministers of the Revolution paraded in front of a couple of funny-looking judges, giving them a pair of heavy books destined to become fancy paperweights, while a lively call and response of ¡Viva Chávez!, and ¡Que viva! took up the background.

It was a sad scene.

Venezuelan ministers plainly don’t run the country. They’re just pawns used and discarded by the chavista high sphere at will. Still, they share responsibility for destroying the country. The ceremony looked more like some sort of creepy Sunday mass rather than an official government act, with the judges shrouded in black and red robes like chavista high priests of some sort.

The whole dog and pony show ended with newly appointed head of the Supreme Court, convicted killer Maikel Moreno, wishing the ministers success, and congratulating himself loudly for how scrupulously he follows the Constitution.

If we weren’t so used to it, it would make us sick to our stomachs.

12 COMMENTS

  1. I am in the US. I have deep empathy for the people of Venezuela and I am doing everything possible to help an ever growing circle of desperately needy Venezuelans.
    The time for a political solution has passed.

  2. Even if it were okay to replace the National Assembly with their crony court, it still has to be the President who gives the report. Sending a flunky isn’t constitutional.

    237. “Annually, within the first ten days following to installation of the National Assembly, in ordinary session, the President of the Republic, shall present personally to the Assembly a message by which will render account of the political, economic, social and administrative aspects of its administration during the past year.”

    As Almagro has been saying, they make no attempt to govern lawfully. The OAS should require elections immediately.

  3. If Chavez rose from the grave today, and a fair election were held tomorrow, El Pueblo would elect him unanimously.

    Without a radical change of culture and mind-set, and without the rule of law _nothing_ will improve in Vz.

    • Actually, I disagree. The last time Chavez stood for election, he did not win by a big margin. Since then, a good percentage of the people now see the end result of his policies. They know that Maduro hasn’t changed anything. They know that he is incompetent, but they are also know that it was Chavez who selected him. No… Chavez would lose badly.

      • Point taken about the election. But, El Pueblo has never repudiated the policies, only the results. And they cheer every time SUNDDE loots a business. They are very far from any useful change in culture.

        • There will be people within Venezuelan society who will forever see two sides, and will forever see the other side as incorrigible. And in both cases, on each side, to the extent that they see the other side as lost, their position will be one of two positions which call themselves different things but which are both essentially against democracy and the rule of law: if the other side cannot be fixed, then government by the people for the people is impossible.

          We can look at this scenario in the post and identify it for what it is: a sign of arbitrary rule by a dictatorship. But when you start talking about how el pueblo cannot be cured of this, you’re validating if not exactly this, something in a similar form: arbitrary rule by some other group, following an arbitrary solution imposed by some other group.

          Venezuela has democracy in its DNA. In that regard, it is not China, or Russia, or Cuba. It does not need a radical change in culture. It needs people of good will, who see the country fundamentally as a whole and not two sides, to bring the country back to where it was, with some large lessons learned, and start moving it forward again.

          My guess is, after all this upheaval, most Venezuelans can still see each other, in their daily living, as one people.

          The enchufados in this picture do not represent Venezuela or Venezuelans. We know this because of what they are doing, which is avoiding their constitutional obligations to the people. It would be a mistake to concede to this group that honour by saying this scene reflects the peoples’ mind-set or their culture.

  4. Those involved in this charade clearly feel no legal nor moral obligation to the
    constitution of the land. Recreating horrific tableaux of children starving to death
    and not taking even small steps to alleviate the pain is beyond contempt to
    most folks, so why would anyone anticipate these demons respecting something
    as trivial as the law.

    My family lived in Caracas in the 1970’s. So sad what you have allowed to
    happen in your land. Anyone in government tell me there is no medicine for my
    child the conversation will escalate and if need be include use of deadly force.
    I could not stand by and simply watch my children suffer.

    Sick humor: I watch the videos of folks driving around Caracas and note your
    socialistic/Cubano system of govt has at least greatly reduced the traffic jams.
    No cars…no jams. Brilliant
    We pray for you. Hopefully enough of you will find the wherewithal to band
    together and throw this lot out.

  5. This talk of old devotees of the man still feeling a strong attachment to his memory remind me of those famous cola trials were people were given to drink unmarked glasses of coke and pepsi and asked which they preferred , overwhelmingly they preferred pepsi , but then they were given glasses which showed which were filled with coke and pepsi and this second time around most of them preferred coke, demonstrating the effect of decades of very effective Coke advertisement on their minds To make sure the second opinion was genuine they even checked with monitors whether the brain pleasure centres were activated when they drank coke and they were.

    I think that something similar may be happening to those people who still feel moved by the memory of chavez , in their innermost mind they know that he was a failure and a fake , but after having idolized the man for many years they still consciously hold on to the idea that he was a great lovable man ….

    I think that with the passage of time the old hold of chavez in their memory will slowly dissipate, they loved his message because they loved the messenger but if someone else , Maduro for instance had gone around saying the same things he would have been ignored , now that the messenger is dead, belief in his message will become less and less compelling as its replaced with a worn down version of the old message which is repeated ad nauseam by his much despised successor…!!

    The problem with the oppo message penetrating the mind of many people is that it lacks the red meat of sanguine resentful passions , its too cute and neat and reasonable , people want messages that make their blood boil ……and above all they want a messenger whose wild charismatic personalty resonates with them, and that kind of messenger has been very difficult to find , someone whose looks and voice they can identify with ……the regime has the same problem , compounded by the fact that they are seen as representing a failed , deeply inept and corrupt system of governance , one which hurts their live directly and dramatically on a day to day basis…!!

    • The sad part about all of this is that their is a big difference between the government that the people want and the government that they need. Good and effective governance is not dramatic. It doesn’t provide passion and drama. It is carried out by dry boring people armed with statistics instead of soaring rhetoric. Good governments do not make radical policy changes. They establish sound and proven policies and then make very well considered incremental changes when need arises.

      A really good government, if they are doing the job correctly, should barely be noticed.

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