“I will be asking the Secretary to make public the list of legislators that were absent from today’s session, and the country must help us pressure them, because, as members [of this Parliament] elected by the country, lawmakers must come to this session of the National Assembly.”

This was how AN Speaker Julio Borges publicly berated the 57 National Assembly members who failed to show up to yesterday’s plenary session. On the agenda: the findings of the Special Committee investigating the Oderbrecht corruption scandal. Perhaps to salvage whatever shred of credibility they still had left, and despite the Assembly being nowhere near a quorum, the Committee presented their report to a near-empty room in a session that lasted 30 minutes.

This isn’t the fist time this happens, either: the August 24 plenary, when deputies were supposed to discuss the dirt that Luisa Ortega Díaz had on government corruption, was only attended by 33 out of 110 lawmakers. So much for all that jaladera de bolas.

In the end, after all the threats and chiding, Borges didn’t even make good on his promise. Instead of publishing the list of deputies who didn’t turn up yesterday, he published a list of those who did — leaving this pendeja to stay up late doing the grunt-work of compiling a list of culprits. Here it is, the list of shame, in all its truant glory:

And where were the dozens of deputies off to instead of attending to the job they were elected to do? They were back home, in their states. Campaigning.

For governor.

In some places, it’s almost funny. Take Yaracuy. Every single principle opposition National Assembly member from Yaracuy is running for governor. All of them! “Fine,” I hear you say, “that’s why they have substitutes.” Delta Amacuro has you covered. There, both the principle and substitute diputados are running. Representation is so 2016.

Somehow, these absentee congresspeople don’t stop to realize that even if they manage to avoid being disqualified by the Contraloría and then go on to win the election for which the CNE hasn’t yet set a date, they’re really just booking a ticket to irrelevance, at best, and an Helicoide cell at worst, because, um, Venezuela will still be a dictatorship when this latest electoral orgy is over (if it ever happens).

And someone has to explain to me how in God’s name these people will ask for my vote when they’re not doing the very thing that I gave them my vote to do in the first place. Maybe they have an electoral base I’m not aware of that they haven’t yet managed to piss off. And still, despite all reasonable assumptions, the lure of local power and their own budgets to execute is too strong, however short lived, however vacuous, however futile. 

Flying the flag of “defending their spaces,” MUD deputies are abandoning their Assembly spaces wholesale, and their electoral base as well, rushing into an illusory cohabitation with dictatorship that promises to do nothing but stabilize chavismo’s power.

MUD keeps scoring own-goals at the moment when it can least afford to. With the government plainly pursuing an agenda of decimating the big opposition parties or putting them under its dictatorial boot, MUD needs the rank-and-file’s energy more than ever to stay relevant, hell, to stay alive even. Instead, they keep alienating us and demonstrating, more and more, that they kinda just don’t care anymore.

After the squalid 30-minute session, the few lawmakers in attendance had the courtesy to vacate the premises in time for the National Constituent Assembly to hold its afternoon plenary and carry on writing their communist constitution. At least someone’s taking full advantage of that space.

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