It does not matter what Chavez berates for 4 hours or what the New York Times prints today: the opposition progressed, won very important districts, and the most symbolic ones at that. Or does anyone pretend to show that winning in Delta Amacuro was more important than the Sucre district of Caracas? For their locals maybe, but for the rank and file chavista living in, say, Guacara, Sucre result is more telling than Tucupita.
If Chavez really meant to rule for all Venezuelans instead of plotting ways to get reelected in 2012, he could simply finally apply article 185 of the Constitution which offers the perfect mechanism to bring ALL Venezuelans around the same table to approve the general lines of the country development and to study the biggest problems that face us all. Because what is coming our way Chavez CANNOT face it alone, not even with his PSUV. 2009 will be a rough year starting as early as late December when oil income will be halved within a few weeks. Today we are still cashing bills for oil sold above 100 USD a barrel but late December the bills cashed will be for oil sold below 100, and by March the bills cashed will be for oil sold at 50. We ave no other export to compensate for this loss of revenue. Our tourism industry is in shambles, and anyway foreign tourists will have less money to spend. We still will need in March to import more than half of our food with not even half the money we used to have. There is no escaping reality.
And if to this you add other problems that can only be solved through consensus, such as crime and the viability of the remaining private business who will go under if Chavez presses them further with taxes, we can expect some major trouble in the second semester of 2009 when the 17 states who voted red last Sunday start claiming for the promises made to them.
Article 185 calls for a Federal Council of Government, presided by the Vice President (see, Chavez does not even need to be seen sitting down with opposition governors for business). Its main function is to distribute the responsibilities of governing among all the parties that constitute the different form of executive governments in Venezuela. It is thus formed by the full executive Cabinet, all governors and one Mayor per state, plus a few invited organizations as needed such as trade unions, business groups and major civil rights organizations.
This Council actually decides how certain amounts of money are spent to favor more deprived regions. That is, the regions who give the most to the central state have a said in which project their money will be spent to help the less favored regions. As a peace and unifying organization you can hardly have come up with something better than this Council, one of the few things worth rescuing of the 1999 constitution who today is more dead than alive, courtesy of chavismo constant violations.
But of course Chavez cannot accept this because such Council works for the decentralization of the country, for local responsibility, for cooperation within states without necessarily the hand of the central government. In other words, this great article of the constitution works against all what Chavez stands for: single man rule. By the way, by not applying it Chavez violates the constituion, but who cares?
If I am reminding readers about this article it is because some times I think I am one of the few Venezuelans left who still remember some of the good hidden in the 1999 document, even though I opposed it when it came up for vote. Chavismo from its side only remembers those articles that can be used to increase Chavez power. All the other articles that can protect his "enemies" from abuse are routinely ignored when not violated downright. I am under no illusion that this article would ever be applied but it would be nice to see a major newspaper in Venezuela remind Chavez that the said article exists.
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In Spanish the original article:
Artículo 185. El Consejo Federal de Gobierno es el órgano encargado de la planificación y coordinación de políticas y acciones para el desarrollo del proceso de descentralización y transferencia de competencias del Poder Nacional a los Estado y Municipios. Estará presidido por el Vicepresidente Ejecutivo o Vicepresidenta Ejecutiva e integrado por los Ministro y Ministras, los Gobernadores y Gobernadoras, un Alcalde o Alcaldesa por cada Estado y representantes de la sociedad organizada, de acuerdo con la ley.
El Consejo Federal de Gobierno contará con una Secretaría, integrada por el Vicepresidente Ejecutivo o Vicepresidenta Ejecutiva, dos Ministros o Ministras, tres Gobernadores o Gobernadoras y tres Alcaldes o Alcaldesas. Del Consejo Federal de Gobierno dependerá el Fondo de Compensación Interterritorial, destinado al financiamiento de inversiones públicas dirigidas a promover el desarrollo equilibrado de las regiones, la cooperación y complementación de las políticas e iniciativas de desarrollo de las distintas entidades públicas territoriales, y a apoyar especialmente la dotación de obras y servicios esenciales en las regiones y comunidades de menor desarrollo relativo. El Consejo Federal de Gobierno, con base en los desequilibrios regionales, discutirá y aprobará anualmente los recursos que se destinarán al Fondo de Compensación Interterritorial y las áreas de inversión prioritaria a las cuales se aplicarán dichos recursos.