Tough dictatorship

Your daily briefing for Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Translated by Javier Liendo

After a vacuous May Day speech, showing he’s better as MC than as president, and a repetitive list of excuses, delays and exaggerated figures of his alleged accomplishments, Nicolás used his hand-picked audience as witnesses and said: “I’ve thought frequently about the strategic options, the tactical routes; I’ve prayed to God and to the spirits that protect this nation and, today, May 1st, I announce that, through my constitutional presidential authority and as head of State, in compliance with article 347 I hereby call on the original constituent power, for the working class to hold a National Constituent Assembly.”

The justification

The chavista clique has been unable to persuade anybody about the opposition’s refusal to hold elections or negotiate. In their view, that’s supposedly the reason why the opposition has committed a coup d’état characterized by violence, which they’ve tried hard to label as terrorism.

But the State is responsible for all the violence suffered in Venezuela and even the regrettable murders of members of security bodies have taken place at night in shady circumstances. Chavismo needs to justify any action against the opposition, including violating the right to participate in elections, because only chavismo must have access to power, because only they deserve it. It’s an ideological virtue. Democracy is immaterial.


Chavismo holds, at most, a 25% approval. It’s obvious that they’ll lose any election held in Venezuela with a secret, universal and direct ballot, so they must keep postponing gubernatorial and local elections as far as they can in 2017, and even the presidential elections in 2018.

The figure of the Communal or Popular Constituent Assembly doesn’t appear in the Constitution. Nicolás proposes to brazenly manipulate voting conditions and even the electoral system itself, so half of the colossal figure of 500 constituent representatives will be picked by specific sectors (workers, natives, farmers, students, etc.) and the other half will be chosen through electoral circuits. The Constituyente Comunal can’t usurp the authority of any public power and will only be used to modify a Constitution chavismo has already violated at leisure. In any case, that kind of corporatist assembly is another coup d’état and there’s no way to window dress it in legal garb.

Julio Borges labeled the episode as “the most serious coup d’état in Venezuela’s history”:

To achieve peace?

Nicolás claimed that he was doing this for and against the National Assembly and said that if we’re afraid, if we want peace or elections, we can only rely on the constituent power. He also said that he takes full responsibility for the consequences of his decision, in this effort to shape a country for himself, right when it stopped being a country for all Venezuelans. Chávez was defeated in his attempt to reform the Constitution in 2007, and now Nicolás wants to dissolve it altogether claiming that his only intention is to strengthen it. Nicolás wants to scrap “the best Constitution in the world,” taking chavismo down with him and starting whether deliberately or not the 6th Republic, with a project that is different from chavismo. The country wants free elections. They can delay them, but that doesn’t change the despair for food. Nothing can hold this mess together, not even growing repression: they can’t kill us all.

State violence

While the country talked about the Nicolás’ fake proposal, police and military forces continued their relentless repression. Once again: Venezuelans have the right to peaceful protest. Repressing rallying points, blocking or limiting city accesses, threatening and assaulting us is illegal, anti-democratic, true State terrorism.

Yesterday, once again, they shot tear gas canisters directly at protesters, and they also shot marbles. And None-budsman Saab is in Lebanon exhibiting his poems and General Prosecutor Ortega Díaz is nowhere to be found.

Additionally, last night a team from news outlet Vivo Play was kidnapped by hooded men and their colleagues knew nothing of their whereabouts for several hours. By this morning, two of them had been released while the other two remained detained.

Radicalization is and will be repressive, because they can, because there are no checks, because there’s no other way for them.

Late at night, there were still reports of repression and harassment in several spots of Caracas.

Pot-banging against the Constituyente

Believe it or not, Elías Jaua, head of the presidential Committee for the recently called Constituyente, claimed that in order to protect the Constitution, it was necessary to nullify it. During the signing of the decree, faces were grim. There was no laughter, few people applauded, there was no vigor. Nicolás failed to come up with a justification for either his radicalization or his manhandling of the concept of “constituent power.” Nor did he come up with any excuse to support this decision to scrub the 5th Republic, nor even with an explanation of the political discrimination behind chavismo‘s alleged ascendancy over the rest of the nation. “They’ve reached the peak of their madness today, and we’re compelled to stop them, to neutralize and defeat them,” said Nicolás in a fascinating projection exercise. Last night’s pot-banging (cacerolazo) was the loudest I’ve heard.

Not only was it loud, but also involved former chavista key zones in Caracas:

Nicolás whining about the “cowardly left wing” would seem to confirm that the CELAC meeting didn’t reach the necessary quorum, but still Foreign minister Delcy Rodríguez was the only high-ranking chavista missing last night. Nicolás signed the decree that he’ll submit before the National Electoral Council today with the electoral foundations of his constituent project.

Freezing prices

Nicolás blamed all the country’s economic problems on an alleged pricing war spawned by the fake economic war, and that’s why he requested support to hold capitalist assaults in check, calling the people to the streets. 14 years of price controls aren’t enough, freezing all prices was the best move he could muster for this May 1st, where nobody uttered a single word about scarcity, inflation or lack of production. Chavismo wants to recover an economy they hold as vibrant but threatened, a world power with medium-scale issues, then.

“I don’t want a civil war. I hand you the power, working class. Go and win the battle. Victory is at hand,” said Nicolás. Only chavismo has guns, that’s why a proper civil war is impossible, but everything that happened yesterday confirms beyond the shadow of a doubt that we’re under a dictatorship, a real hardcore one.

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.