The march for peace proposed by Nicolás was another failure. On Tuesday, he presented the electoral rules for his Constituyente before the National Electoral Council without people, so VTV recycled stock footage to combine it with what was happening in the hall. Out of 540 constituent assembly members, 364 (67%) will be elected geographically, one —on a first-past-the-post basis— for each municipality and two —on a proportional representation basis— in state capitals, disregarding population density, but guaranteeing that chavista votes will be able to elect more representatives than dissident votes.
The remaining members will be chosen by sector, through eight groups, but without specifying the institution that will determine the voting registry for them. The rules establish at least three ways to vote: the municipal, by name or list; the indigenous, “based on their ancestral customs,” and by regional lists through communes and communal councils. The rules don’t establish how long the Constituyente will be active, so it may exercise its absolute powers for as long as its members wish; it’s not clear either whether the new Constitution will be approved through a referendum. It’s an electoral fraud that would fail visibly if it was ever put to a vote.
The Last of the Mojica(ns)?
In his judicial robes and with a miniature flag to his left, justice Danilo Mojica, member of the Supreme Tribunal’s Social Cassation Chamber, rejected Nicolás’ Constituyente, mirroring Prosecutor Luisa Ortega Díaz’s statements and emphasizing the relevance of (consultative and constitutional) referendums because otherwise, “It would be a spurious Constituent Assembly.” Mojica always thinks the Constituyente won’t ease the country’s political commotion or solve the crisis. He demanded Nicolás end repression and arrest the murderers, telling him that it’s a moment for big decisions.
Hours later a second justice, Marisela Godoy, also condemned the Constituyente.
Mag.Marisela Godoy:Echan a la basura la frase de Chávez:No se pruebe cambiar ni una coma,ni letra de la CONSTITUCION sin consultar al pueblo
— Nelson Bocaranda S. (@nelsonbocaranda) May 23, 2017
The National Assembly called on the people to disregard the electoral bases to convene the Constituyente, exhorting the people “to continue protesting peacefully in the morning, afternoon or night until the Constitution’s reinstated,” said Parliament Speaker Julio Borges, pointing out that the solution is announcing free elections so that people can decide their future.
— Asamblea Nacional (@AsambleaVE) May 23, 2017
AN vice-chairman Freddy Guevara announced a consultative referendum which “has to be the expression of a country in civil disobedience,” since the Constituyente proposal “must set off article 350 [regarding civil disobedience] the people must hold the streets until the regime falls,” he remarked.
Esta es nuestra propuesta para enfrentar el fraude constituyente. Fuerza y fe que lo vamos a lograr! pic.twitter.com/SNQrRpugPT
— Freddy Guevara (@FreddyGuevaraC) May 24, 2017
Their words define a way to counter the illegitimate Constituyente through a consultative referendum to deny it, to show beyond a shadow of a doubt that this country doesn’t need a new Constitution, but another government.
CNE at PSUV’s service
It took CNE scarcely five hours to review the electoral rules submitted by Nicolás, the same guy who, upon leaving CNE headquarters, claimed that gubernatorial elections are compatible with the constituent process. That’s why Tibisay Lucena announced last night that the CNE unanimously decided —rector Luis Emilio Rondón denied this— that the Constituyente will be held by the end of July and gubernatorial elections will take place on December 10th, in other words, the PSUV will first vest its constituent members with absolute powers, who will then discuss the structure of the State for an indefinite period of time (to modify it however they want) and only then (if the constituyentistas so choose) will governors be elected.
I still remember Tibisay explaining how complex it is to set up an election and yet, she’s imposing the Constituyente (540 members, new methods, etc.) before governors and seeks to launch it in two months. Let her absolute submission to the Executive Branch be an incentive to march, protest and demand what’s right.
Seven dead, that’s the status after Monday’s protests in Barinas, according to lawmaker Freddy Superlano.
All deaths have been confirmed by the Prosecutor’s Office. While the massacre’s being investigated, National Guard commander Antonio Benavides Torres reported that more soldiers were deployed in the state, claiming that the same guys who have fired upon civilians are there to “guarantee peace, calm and sovereignty.”
Additionally, even though governor Zenaida Gallardo issued statements yesterday blaming the opposition for everything, she could still be removed from post by Giuseppe Cacioppo, Vice-minister of the Integrated Police System (Visipol); an important detail since Interior minister Néstor Reverol reported yesterday that they’re officially inspecting Lara state police; changes everywhere.
Nicolás needs to change the rules of the game because he’ll surely lose with the current ones. The Constituent Assembly’s greatest weakness for chavismo is the attempt at denying people their right to vote. Nicolás and Tibisay may propose whatever they want, but citizens must have the option to show that’s not what we’re demanding, that’s why a consultative referendum was proposed. Don’t see it as legitimizing an illegal move but rather as a legal method for the people to reject it.
The consultative referendum puts chavismo in a really awkward position, because they’ll now have to argue why they’d reject it and answer to the world as to why they don’t comply with their own Constitution. This isn’t meant to call off protests, but rather the opposite: the electoral rules are a new incentive to remain on the streets.
What does the MUD have to do now? Communicate their proposal clearly, inspiring the remaining Mojica(ns) to condemn this imposition, because through his Constituyente, Nicolás blocks any possible negotiations. The inflection point must be reached within power, while the MUD preserves its structure and builds trust among those who jump off the chavista boat. That’s why the regime launched the campaign on fake dissident terrorism and tries to exacerbate whatever mistakes opposition protesters might make.
I hope the frenzy of some people for finding mistakes in the opposition’s line to be able to yell “I knew it!” comes from how uncertain the rest of life is in Venezuela. Just take a look at yesterday’s chavista march -which wasn’t national nor massive-, the PSUV’s argumentative failures and the obvious weakness of their recent lies.
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