Photo: Yahoo retrieved

National Assembly Speaker Juan Guaidó swore this Wednesday before thousands of citizens gathered in the Francisco de Miranda Ave., that he assumed the role as Interim President: “Let us raise our right hand, today, January 23, 2019, in my condition as Speaker of the National Assembly, invoking the articles of the Constitution, all of our actions based on the Constitution, before God Almighty, before the lawmakers, before Venezuela, I swear to formally assume the competences of the National Executive as interim President of Venezuela to put an end to the usurpation, establish a transition government and hold free elections.” The euphoria after his oath helped even the people farthest from the stage to guess what had happened. Guaidó said that the lawmakers will rescue the Constitution and human rights united with the people, hoping that the Amnesty Law and the humanitarian aid will convince the military to join citizens. Some jurists say that this wasn’t a self-proclamation because Guaidó took his oath before the people and the National Assembly’s Board.

Support

Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Paraguay, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Honduras, Panama, the U.S., Peru, Canada, Guyana, France, Kosovo, Georgia and Denmark are the nations that have recognized Juan Guaidó as Interim President thus far, in a very interesting combination of statements from presidents and their Foreign ministries.

The chairman of the European Council, Donald Tusk, has urged European Union partners to recognize Guaidó: “I hope that all of Europe will unite in support of democratic forces in Venezuela,” said Tusk on social networks. European Parliament Speaker Antonio Tajani did the same. Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the liberals in the United Kingdom also asked to follow the example of Canada, the United States and other “crucial partners” of the EU in Latin America.

As usual, the statement issued by EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini was weaker, but not as shameful as that of Foreign Minister Josep Borrell. The UN said that they’re “closely” following demonstrations in Venezuela and requested “inclusive and credible political negotiations.” The institutional boost came from the Inter American Development Bank, recognizing Guaidó’s presidency.

A balcony without a square

Once again, PSUV needed to mobilize many buses to cover the spots they set up for their march, in addition to the unnecessary repression they exercised in some spots of the opposition rally, such as El Paraíso. In any case, the call was miserable (coercion isn’t loyalty) and Diosdado Cabello asked his militants at O’Leary Square to go to Miraflores because Nicolás was expecting them there. The official TV station, VTV, was unable to calibrate the shots from the Presidential Palace and often revealed the scarce amount of people in front of whom the usurper spoke. I don’t blame them. It was a terribly dull speech, repeated and disconnected from the political moment. He asked the Armed Forces for loyalty and demanded that the justice system protect the state. The tale of American interventionism served to announce that Venezuela was breaking diplomatic relations with the U.S. and ordering their diplomatic and consular staff to leave the country in the next 72 hours. He didn’t announce diplomatic retaliation against any other nation that has supported Juan Guaidó, nor against Guaidó himself. Remarkably, the military High Command wasn’t with him and still he said: “Nobody flees here, we’re going to battle here.”

Move, Tarek!

Juan José Mendoza, chairman of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice’s Constitutional Chamber, urged the Prosecutor’s Office to proceed and immediately establish responsibilities against National Assembly lawmakers for usurping the president’s duties and incurring in contempt, ratifying the “unconstitutionality of the Legislative Branch.” According to him, the AN is engaging in “actions of force to repeal the Constitution.”

I’m not leaving

U.S. State Secretary Mike Pompeo said last night that he doesn’t think Nicolás has the legal authority to end diplomatic relations with his nation and therefore they’ll keep relations, which will be managed from now on by the government of Interim President Juan Guaidó. Pompeo took the opportunity to ask the Armed Forces to continue protecting all Venezuelan citizens, as well as American citizens and other foreigners.

Those who won’t flee

Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino López wrote a message on Twitter saying: “Despair and intolerance assault the nation’s peace. The country’s soldiers don’t accept a president imposed under the shadow of dark interests nor self-proclaimed outside the law. The FANB defends our Constitution and guarantees national sovereignty.”

Later, Remigio Ceballos, chief of the Armed Forces’ Strategic Operational Command also said on Twitter that soldiers are sovereign and loyal to “their commander in chief Nicolás Maduro.” Funnier still, Padrino López scheduled the official statement of the Armed Forces for today at 10:00 a.m. Perhaps by then they’ll have a clearer inventory of loyalties.

Meeting in Los Naranjos

On his weekly show in VTV, Diosdado Cabello said that this Tuesday he met in Los Naranjos with Juan Guaidó: “He promised that we wouldn’t say any of that if the agreements were kept, but today he did the opposite. You have no word,” he said and dared Guaidó to deny it. I celebrate this story: if the meeting took place, it means that Cabello (and with him, Nicolás) recognized the authority of Guaidó and the National Assembly, erasing the contempt and the nullification issued by the TSJ against its board. Chavistas won’t die of coherence. Cabello threatened the American diplomatic corps with disregarding their immunity and even strip them off services. The night’s gem? He claimed: “Carmona had merit: they managed to take Chávez and they reached Miraflores. But this guy (Guaidó) hasn’t even reached Esquina El Muerto. What a crazy deal, but the craziest part is that some governments recognize him,” Cabello said.

And then?

Nicolás put his hopes on a mistaken message. We’re not Syria. There are no armed rebels on our side or people interested in confronting him. We’re citizens, we’re a country that disregards him, that understands him as an usurper. He owns violence and proved it with each person who died (the count until last night was 13 people) due to the repression exercised by state security forces. Nicolás has control of the territory thanks to the Armed Forces’ support, while the National Assembly has the democratic legitimacy and a solid popular and international support. As long as the Armed Forces don’t set their stance, the board offers various possibilities to resolve or further complicate the scenario. The vulnerability of most Venezuelans is a determining factor in this story.

The emotion of the courage, the dignity, the resistance and the civility expressed yesterday is very difficult to describe, but surely the pictures of each city (both in the country and abroad) where Venezuelans marched, will serve to describe the determination to recover our democracy. Despite so many trials, we’re back on the streets. In the words of the famous Rodríguez, María Fernanda: “We’re great, a great people.”

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