Fighting for an Empty Shell

Helen Fernández, the person Antonio Ledezma designated as a mayor in his absence, was just ousted from her post by a sick powerplay… authored by the opposition itself.

Foto: CuatroPelagatos

Antonio Ledezma hasn’t even been in Spain for a week and the buzzards are already attacking: Helen Fernández, the woman he left as commissioned mayor just before being detained, was sent home by a decision of the Metropolitan Council, effectively ending her tenure. That Council is, by the way, opposition–controlled.

“They’re declaring my absolute absence and the four grounds for dismissal are nonexistent in this case!” she says.

But Alejandro Vivas, city councilman from Primero Justicia party, believes the controversy is born from different interpretations of the law; when Ledezma was in Caracas, he says, there was a chance of him coming back to his post. After he fled for Spain, that possibility is gone and the mayor’s absolute absence is in place.

“There is no chance he’ll come back. This was a decision consulted with people from the PSUV [government party] who already had plans to nullify the Council” Vivas says.

I’m going to repeat that for you: people from Primero Justicia held hands with the dictatorship to expel a functioning mayor from her duties.

Truth is, this mayorship is a powerless body, an empty shell amidst parallel institutions under a dictatorial regime. Vivas insists on this being a recent notion born out of the need to comply with the law: “there was real risk of seeing the will of the opposition voters violated,” something that may have a political cost for Primero Justicia, but, according to Vivas, it was done with the utmost respect. “We tried to communicate with (Ledezma) after he left Venezuela, and he told us he disagrees with our actions.”

They’re declaring my absolute absence and the four requisites for that are nonexistent in this case!

And you know why? Because you can spin this any way you want, sugarcoat it with all the legalese available and make a pretty poster with bright colors, but we can see what you’re doing. The commissioned mayor is a figure created precisely for situations like this, and all logic (let alone camaraderie and real respect) dictates that she should end her term. “Law will let you do anything” is a saying in Law School, because you can spin the words as you wish. But the fact is that you waited until a popular opposition figure was out of the country to violate the provisions he left and now they leave his trusted collaborator out of a job. For a post with no real power. For a line on your CV. And you did this colluding with the people you are allegedly fighting.

“This decision came from Primero Justicia” Helen says. “I don’t understand why they did it or why they mock what Ledezma said. It’s a complicated situation, but this is disrespectful.”

By being part of Ledezma’s team, Helen thinks she is becoming an “uncomfortable figure.” Even inside the opposition.