The National Assembly Moves Its Pieces

The National Assembly (AN) agreed this Tuesday to formally declare “the usurpation of the Presidency” by Nicolás Maduro and to assume his de facto situation as “judicially ineffective,” as well as to disregard “all the alleged acts issued by the executive power” as null, restating that they’ll apply all the measures in the Constitution to restore its validity. Parliament seeks “to establish a legislative framework that provides guarantees for democratic reinsertion, in order to create the incentives for civilians and police officers, as well as components of the Armed Forces, to refuse to obey” Nicolás; as well as to restore the conditions of electoral integrity so as to proceed, once the usurpation has ceased and the transition government has been installed, to call for free elections as soon as possible. The 16 de Julio caucus, led by former lawmaker María Corina Machado, saved their vote because they consider that the agreement “doesn’t respond to what the Constitution establishes in Article 233, what people demand and what the international community awaits.”

Other legislative agreements

The National Assembly also approved this Tuesday an agreement for the future enactment of an Amnesty Law for civilians and military officers who contribute to the defense of the Constitution. Let it be clear: the agreement was approved today, the Amnesty Law will come later. In any case, the lawmakers approved requesting 46 countries to protect Venezuela’s assets abroad. They also demanded any countries that don’t recognize Nicolás to freeze all bank accounts of regime authorities under their jurisdiction. Additionally, lawmaker Miguel Pizarro requested humanitarian aid from the Hemiciclo, saying that if it was left at the borders, Parliament would find “the way to get it into the country.” It would be a way to prevent military mafias or the CLAP from doing business with the donations sent.

Disguised as a soldier

The usurper has invested lots of time on the National Assembly’s actions, considering it was merely a media show or a Twitter coup. While the AN was holding its session, Nicolás imposed a mandatory broadcast to exhibit himself surrounded by the military High Command and to announce that 2019 will be dedicated to celebrating the 200th anniversary of the Angostura Speech, a priority for a country amidst hyperinflation and a complex humanitarian crisis.

He babbled a lot, but the idea was for him to speak first and then give the floor to Vladimir Padrino López, who claimed that they’re “ready to die to defend the Constitution (…) and you as the supreme magistrate elected by the people.” Pleased with all the times he heard the expression “my Commander in Chief,” Nicolás said that “a handful of immature kids won’t be able to hurt Venezuela,” because he’s already been to the future and back, cautioning that there’s justice here and he puts his trust in it as his greatest protection. It was a shameful show.

Supports

OAS chief Luis Almagro expressed his support for the agreement approved by the National Assembly that establishes that Nicolás is usurping the Presidency. Much earlier, CNN reported that U.S. President Donald Trump mulls recognizing Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s “legitimate” head of state.

Shortly afterwards, U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence spoke on the phone with Speaker Guaidó to recognize his “brave leadership.” Canada also supported Juan Guaidó in his decision to invoke constitutional authority; while the Supreme Tribunal of Justice in exile ratified to the Armed Forces that it’s a constitutional duty “to disregard and disobey” Nicolás. Today, Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro and Argentina’s Mauricio Macri will meet, and discussing Venezuela is part of the agenda.

Almighty or perverse?

Without mentioning the aid that the government requested from the United Nation International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to buy food for children suffering from malnutrition due to the humanitarian crisis, the chair of the National Constituent Assembly, Diosdado Cabello, asked the Judiciary branch and the Prosecutor’s Office to investigate the crimes being committed “during this madness,” because for him, calling Nicolás an usurper of the Presidency is madness. For some reason he decided to dub Juan Guaidó as violent, discarding the possibility of a transition government because the Constitution doesn’t establish such a figure (and that’s why he called it a media trap) and also, he decided to call for a chavista march on January 23. He made a poor show of defending the government’s explanation for Guaidó’s detention: it was an independent action by SEBIN agents and, even worse, he repeatedly threatened to call for early parliamentary elections whenever he wants. He’s lost his flow. Understandable, it’s been 20 years inflicting harm, after all.

Teachers

Yesterday was Teacher’s Day in Venezuela and the Democratic Union of the Education Sector (UDSE) called for a total shutdown of pedagogical activities on January 17 to defend its collective agreements and labor rights, as well as to condemn the decline of education. Teachers’ wages are absurd in the context of hyperinflationary dynamics and most teachers are experiencing extreme poverty, don’t eat well and scramble to reach their workplaces, so the exodus of professionals has been huge, usually to pursue minor trades. Chavismo is so far from the crisis, that yesterday afternoon Vice-President Delcy Rodríguez called for celebrating with “robinsonian spirit” the accomplishment of being teachers in revolution. [Insert your preferred profanity here.]

Bonus: why didn’t Guaidó take the oath?

José Ignacio Hernández, professor of Administrative and Constitutional Law, explained early yesterday some of the aspects about the AN Speaker’s unlikely swearing-in ceremony. Hernández wrote that the discussion thus far is based on “the ideal context of a transfer of the Presidency in a normal situation, as established in Article 233,” except that our situation is abnormal and that article doesn’t apply to abnormal situations. What makes it abnormal? The fact that Nicolás is still exercising the Presidency and the Constitution can’t be enforced, so it falls on Parliament as an institution to design a democratic transition, with real strategies and legal formulas that allow us to reclaim the functions and authority of the Executive branch. The whole National Assembly, not just Guaidó.

Nicolás may disguise himself however he wants, Diosdado may keep threatening, but a fact reverberates above their noise: Juan Guaidó is still free and with him, the thesis of usurpation gains strength. It’s as stupid to denigrate him for his youth as it’s fallacious to accuse him of engaging in violent actions; but as long as they mention him, they’re also giving him headlines. The National Assembly held a historic session that will provide ways for countries that want to contribute to the resolution of our crisis, but we as citizens must mobilize, support Parliament, accompany its actions and go on. These are bizarre days.

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