“El poder es arrogante, el poder es petulante, el poder es altanero, es soberbio y muy grosero.”
– Desorden Público.
Everything was serious yesterday. With 20 votes in favor, 11 against, two abstentions and one absence, after a one-hour delay thanks to the joint efforts of Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia, the OAS Permanent Council meeting started. Vice-minister Samuel Moncada did his best to surpass even Foreign minister Delcy Rodríguez’s hostility and showcased PSUV’s brand of politics for all American countries to see. The diplomatic language of his peers was useless, Moncada was determined to take make up for his failure to shut down the meeting and concluded the long session attacking each country that dared call out Venezuela, one by one.
The phrase that best sums up his behavior: “I don’t care about your reactions, I’ll say what I came here to say,” because for PSUV, nobody has the right to discuss our colossal crisis, because they answer only to the Constitution that they violate daily, this is their turf and nothing stands or will ever stand above PSUV. And so, OAS member countries got an eloquent demonstration of why dialogue (which was invoked to exhaustion yesterday) didn’t work and won’t ever work in Venezuela.
With his attacks, Moncada fulfilled his purpose: the meeting was never concluded. What OAS delegate diplomats have probably never experienced in a session, constitutes the way of life of Venezuelans for nearly two decades. It was important to explain that the concept of foreign intervention can’t be used to mask violations to democracy or Human Rights, that the concept of self-determination applies to nations and not governments, that seeking a negotiated transition out of the crisis doesn’t equate to meddling or violation of sovereignty. In the end, Canada’s representative read a statement endorsed by 20 countries, after the majority insisted on taking concrete actions with results. Mexico promised to organize them and to structure the plan to follow. Moncada’s assault left the session in limbo. An important note: Federica Mogherini, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs supported the call for elections and the release of political prisoners in Venezuela.
According to the Constitution, states of emergency can’t be declared for more than 180 days, but the economic emergency decree has already lasted 14 months, thanks to the TSJ, whose Constitutional Chamber declared yesterday morning that the agreement approved by the National Assembly regarding the reactivation of the Democratic Charter was unconstitutional. The decision, serious on many levels, grants Nicolás broad powers and orders him to implement the appropriate actions to safeguard the constitutional order, as well as taking all necessary measures to avoid a state of commotion. Just to be clear: in the rest of the world, the state of commotion comes first, and then the president is given special powers, not the other way around.
The TSJ also ruled that Nicolás should review several laws to prevent the risks that threaten the country’s stability and governance, including evaluating the performance of international organizations of which Venezuela is a member. Lastly, the TSJ makes parliamentary immunity contentious because of the infamous “contempt,” a clear threat against Parliament and a mockery of the votes we cast on December 6th, 2015. There’s a reason why this ruling is issued right when the Venezuela State’s democratic standing is being reviewed; that’s why they rewrite the Constitution on top of violating it, this threat of being left completely helpless against PSUV’s arbitrariness is a way of preventing any form of an organized civil response. The government now openly considers civility as an act of terrorism.
Rally before Parliament
The National Assembly’s leadership condemned the TSJ Constitutional Chamber’s ruling, considering it a retaliation against Parliament for the work being done by its members to denounce the government’s abuses against democracy and electoral rights abroad. Speaker Julio Borges said that the only internal commotion Nicolás fears is an election and denounced that all of these provisions and decisions are illegal violations. PSUV organized a brief anti-imperialist march and a rally before the Legislative Palace’s entrance.
While vice-president Tareck El Aissami vigorously denying that Venezuelans are “subjected to calamities,” and after he threatened to sue OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro before international courts (after calling him a criminal, jalabola and queer) for “having frozen assets in the U.S.,” a group of opposition lawmakers tried to reach the rally’s stage to demand an end to persecution and respect for the Legislative Branch. The National Guard blocked them and several chavista militants attacked them.
The AN unanimously approved the Law on Humanitarian Aid to open a humanitarian channel to overcome the crisis.
“Los gringos de mierda que no se van al carajo”
“Piece if shit gringos who won’t go away.” To further enrage Blanca Eekhout, who uttered that phrase during family broadcast time yesterday, the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Western Hemisphere Sub-committee held a hearing called “Venezuela’s Tragic Meltdown,” to review the international community’s role in offering aid to solve the country’s political, economic and social crisis. The head of the sub-committee, republican Jeff Duncan said: “We urge President Trump to keep pressuring Venezuela and to watch its criminal activities.” Democrat Albio Sires said that Venezuela’s situation has worsened as months pass and numerous families search the garbage for food: “Maduro and his people grow wealthier every day with money and drug trafficking, doing nothing for the people who suffer (…) Venezuela is acting as a narco state, facilitating the shipment of drugs throughout the region.” We’ll have more information on this hearing in the following days.
That’s what Nicolás repeated obsessively during a council of ministers that he broadcast to reject the OAS meeting. His arguments weren’t any better than Moncada’s. For instance, he claimed that between 1948 and 1998, there were 100 coups d’Etat in the continent, “all of them with the OAS’s blessing.” That’s why they called for a national and international debate to evaluate the pertinence of Venezuela’s membership to the institution. Delcy told him via on-air phone call that the yesterday’s OAS session never took place, that Almagro was defeated, that she demanded the repeal of Obama’s executive order against corrupt members of the regime and this is an overwhelming victory for Venezuela. Crazy.