The Supreme Tribunal of Justice (TSJ) has authorized the beginning of trial proceedings against Prosecutor General Luisa Ortega Díaz — the Venezuelan opposition’s unlikely new hero. Ortega’s rise has been quick and comes complete with a fanboy movement featuring vaguely sexist memes. But even as we admire her crafty strategy to expose the constitutional fraud that is the Constituyente, we must confront an uncomfortable fact: we don’t really know what she stands for. We don’t know her real agenda. In fact, we know virtually nothing about her.
Luisa’s a cipher.
So what do we know about Ortega? We know she was born in Valle de la Pascua, a small town in the Venezuelan plains, and studied law at Universidad de Carabobo – a traditional Venezuelan public university. We know that up until she reached the age of 40 in 1998, her career was virtually non-existent just like many other top Chavista officials at the time. Ideologically, we could say we know nothing about what she stands for, apart from generic chavista leftie slogans.
What we do know about her doesn’t offer too much comfort. We know she’s capable of cynically defending the abuses of the government during the 2014 protests (Ortega, unlike fellow chavista defector and former ombudsman Gabriela Ramírez, has not addressed her role in the human rights violations and prosecutions that took place in 2014) and the illegal prosecution and sham trial of Leopoldo López (which she has defended recently).
This transition must be an organized, open process led by the opposition and result in a transition presided over by a respected figure.
We’re told she’s close to former Interior Minister and disgruntled chavista Miguel Rodríguez Torres, who was also responsible for many of the atrocities committed during La Salida.
The suspicion is that more than a change of heart in favor of the rule of law, Ortega’s involved in a power play by a fraction of chavismo desperately trying to cut itself loose from Nicolás Maduro.
Nevertheless, the opposition has happily ceded center stage to Ortega and has failed to articulate any concrete path that leads to a transition – all of which is quite scary seeing as July 30th looms just around the corner.
Many people are overestimating Ortega’s power to actually produce an institutional end to chavismo, which is impossible, since all her petitions are ruled on by courts completely controlled by chavismo devoted to the administration of pseudolaw that she, ironically, helped create. The questions about whether she “can” be impeached under the Constitution become naïve when you consider how many times the government has gotten TSJ to say that the Constitution says whatever they want it to. Remember, we live in autocracy.
Many people are overestimating Ortega’s power to actually produce an institutional end to chavismo.
So, is the opposition counting on her symbolic actions to lead to a loss of Maduro’s military support? Do we know who’s behind Ortega? Will her
eventual almost-certain ousting by the use of pseudolaw have any consequences or will she descend into oblivion, like many other disgraced chavista honchos? Do we really believe that the army or the international community that just gave us the middle finger will have any reaction to the ouster of an obscure figure when they have done nothing after almost 80 people have been killed and Maduro’s announced a plan to turn us into North Korea?
We are all aware that the end of chavismo will necessarily involve a painful negotiation. But this transition must be an organized, open process led by the opposition and result in a transition presided over by a respected figure. This is going to take a lot of work and will involve some ugly compromises. There are no shortcuts.
Luisa Ortega can’t do our job for us. And considering her track record, we shouldn’t want her to either. It’s fanciful to believe she wants power in order to put it on a platter and hand it to us. She wants power for herself, for her clan, and for all we know she sees us as the most disposable of tactical allies. Which, deep down, is probably how we should see her, too.