Only for the Reds

You might think that since the PSUV steamrolled the opposition in last Sunday’s elections, its thirst for power is now sated. But the reds will win, even when they lose.

Last Sunday, the PSUV got 18 out of 23 governorships, in an already controversial election. After using subtle (and not so subtle) mechanisms to exploit every weakness in the message the Democratic Unity Roundtable /MUD) sent, chavismo turned the Venezuelan map red once again. But even where the opposition won, it’s all coming to the expected outcome: no matter the results, chavismo won’t share power with anyone who’s not wearing a red shirt.

See, after suggesting they would swear in their charges to the Constituent Assembly (ANC),  the five oppo governors decided not to, setting the chavista machinery in motion.

To understand its twisted operation, we must go back to December 16, 2012, the day a dying Chávez got his governors elected in 20 states. Members of Regional Legislative Councils (the regional branch of the Legislative Power) were also elected, and the PSUV got a majority in every one, except Amazonas. These councils were supposed to be renewed along with governors on December 10, but when the CNE re-arranged regional elections for last Sunday, they didn’t include legislative councils. These small parliaments are in charge of key activities like approving regional budgets, and authorize governors to name regional authorities. Also, as stated in the Regional Constitutions, before taking their posts, elected governors must swear in their charges to them.

A Gaceta Oficial ordering the intervention of Merida’s state police, along with those of every state won by the MUD last Sunday, was published.

By Constituent Decree, the ANC ordered every Council to not swear the candidates in, until they do so before the ANC itself. And after Maduro, in a show of democratic spirit,  threatened those who don’t comply with jail, legislative councils followed orders.

In Zulia, Giovanny Villalobos, Regional Secretary of Government, announced he’d wait until next Tuesday for Juan Pablo Guanipa to swear his charge to the ANC, or he’ll name Magdely Valbuena, current president of the legislative council, as interim governor until the CNE calls new elections for the entity. He also warned that there won’t be CLAP bags and state companies resources for the new governor, until he bends the knee.

A similar situation happened in Anzoategui, where Julio Millán, president of the legislative council, cited articles 127 and 128 of the State’s Constitution to force Antonio Barreto Sira to comply with the plan. Officialist supporters even ransacked the Governorate Office, as denounced by Vente activists.

In Táchira, a group of MUD legislators revealed the Council’s plan to declare the “absolute absence” of Laidy Gómez, to name PSUV legislator Omar Hernández as substitute governor unless she swears in to the ANC.

Even though the legislative council hasn’t made any public announcement in Mérida, chavismo is playing its usual cards: on Monday, right after winning the election, Ramón Guevara announced he planned to restructure the state police, one of the pillars of Alexis Ramírez repressive policy. Álvaro Sánchez Cuéllar, current director of the state police, begged Ramírez to not “hand that revolutionary institution to a escuálido” like Guevara.

After suggesting they would swear in their charges to the Constituent Assembly (ANC), the five oppo governors decided not to.

Lo and behold, a Gaceta Oficial ordering the intervention of Merida’s state police, along with those of every state won by the MUD last Sunday, was published. The Interior Minister argued the decision was taken to “guarantee the people’s security” and “to make sure the police duty is exercised in strict accordance with the law.”

Chavista activists also introduced legal action against Guevara to the Prosecutor General, hoping to nullify Merida’s election, since Guevara “made fun of the Venezuelan institutionality” and “threatened to fire over 7000 public workers.” The funny thing is that, even though none of their accusations are electoral crimes, using state resources to promote a candidate, like PSUV’s Jehyson Guzmán did, is typified in articles 13 and 18 of the Law Against Corruption.

On the other hand, Alfredo Díaz, Acción Democrática’s elected governor for Nueva Esparta, said he was willing to swear in before the ANC, because that’s “their only alternative to keep the spaces won by votes.” Even that statement didn’t earn his committee entrance to the new office.

Chavismo has created parallel institutions to bypass its electoral defeats for years. They do it because they can, and as long as it remains so, the electoral resolution of our crisis is a self-destructive pipe dream. Chavistas will win, even when they lose.