It’s been difficult to focus on the news coming out of the Constituent Assembly. A vague sense of nausea grips you when you look at the headlines. “Saab: I Denounce Ortega Díaz as the intellectual author of violence in the country.” “Constituent Assembly asks election council for list of gubernatorial candidates to determine if any of them has committed a crime.” Or “ANC installs a Truth Commission to investigate the opposition’s crimes.”
The nausea only grows as you read the body of the article. Story after story of a government out of control: no guardrails, no restraint, nothing at all to keep them from their worst impulses, to slow them from giving their authoritarian impulses free rein.
The Constituent Assembly, you soon realize, has nothing at all to do with rewriting the constitution. It has to do with extinguishing the possibility of a constitution: one final stockade against the rule of law.
The Constituyente amounts to a lightly disguised Junta de Gobierno: a clique of toughs that has decided to take the state and use it like Play-Doh. The doctrine of “supraconstitutionality” providing the flimsiest of legal patinas to an all-out assault on dissent, henceforth to be punished by 25 years in prison, in the guise of legislation “against hatred.”
Orwell se quedó pendejo.
With opposition mayors on the run, Luisa Ortega skipping the country, SEBIN on an all-out manhunt for German Ferrer and a bunch of Jacobins in a stolen hemiciclo determined to impose truth via commission, it seems like the wrong time to round on MUD.
The Constituent Assembly is about extinguishing the possibility of a constitution: one final stockade against the rule of law.
Could MUD have done more to avoid this catastrophe? I suppose it could have, if it was perfect. But it isn’t perfect. It’s a human institution, and no human institution is perfect.
MUD’s task now is simple, vital, and desperate: to survive.
However it can, whatever it takes, it needs to survive this authoritarian onslaught to fight another day. The plan to create enough pressure on the street to generate enough cracks and desertions on their side to push the government to collapse failed.
It sucks, but it’s the truth. Their ability to dissuade desertions through coercion turned out to be stronger than our ability to provoke them through moral suasion.
And their need to prevent the next set of desertion forces them to act even more heavy-handedly than they had before, because the stakes keep rising and they need to make themselves seem unassailable to keep those who may be harboring doubts on the straight and narrow.
You don’t have to like those facts to accept that they are facts.
And no good political decisions ever flowed from a principled refusal to face the facts as they are.Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.