Is Hugo Chavez still alive?
This is not an idle question.
Today events continued their evolution toward a potential constitutional coup d'etat, and even if they seem to have sped up, there is nothing resolved yet. Through the day we had normal political movements, inasmuch as anything can be termed normal in this joint. The highlight promised to be Capriles press conference. Instead it seems that this press conference sped up the resolve of chavismo to hold to its guns even if one is not sure which are those guns. Thus followed a series of strange events and reactions.
In its first official session of the year, the National Assembly direction refused to debate the eventual return of Chavez for Thursday deciding rather to vote on small credits. And yet suddenly Diosdado Cabello, the chair, received a last minute communication from Vice President Nicolas Maduro as to Chavez asking him to inform the country that no, he will not show up on January 10, but at a later date.
Right there a few questions need be raised. Why cannot Chavez say it so himself? What is Chavez real, REAL, health status? Why so close to the swearing in ceremony when he should already be on his way to Venezuela? Why the "sudden" letter to Diosdado for something that could have waited a couple of hours and announced in a cadena? Granted, individually each question is really not consequential but put all together and you are allowed to wonder what is going on. And yet it was only a start.
Thus the debate that was denied earlier did take place after all. I did watch it and tweeted it mostly in Spanish (receiving quite a few insults from chavistas, by the way).
I am not going to go through the whole description, just let you know my impression, which congealed quite well when the Communist Figuera spoke. It became clear then that chavismo is divided into at least two factions: those that have no objections as to Diosdado becoming president and those who do not want Diosdado near Miraflores palace at all costs, the position of Figuera by the way, who certainly knows the beast from inside. But that battle cannot be fought in the open and thus both side fought it by proxy, insulting in their own way the opposition, changing COMPLETELY the meaning of its words when needed. In short, chavismo behaved like an autistic victim under severe crisis. The opposition obliged in that it remained calm and composed because it knew perfectly well what was going on and went as far as supporting Diosdado right to become president which visibly inconvenienced him a lot. The best line was Julio Borges asking Diosdado not push on him his very own problems "no pague su frustración conmigo".
I dare say that the opposition scored more points than what one would think so. First, the whole show was planned as an ambush but an ill conceived one. Imagine that Cabello receives a surprise letter and yet, within minutes, there is Elvis Amoroso already offering a full fledged resolution to support Chavez. No wonder many suspect that this afternoon was nothing more than a visceral reaction to Capriles press conference this afternoon. The other scores came not only on how composed the opposition was and how obviously out of joint chavismo is now, but also from the opportunity that the opposition had to say to the whole country, many chavistas watching, that only the "chulo" parasite client countries are supporting the PSUV moves, that Havana rules, that chavismo is only worried about preserving individual quotes of power instead of solving people's problems. That is, the opposition did its first official campaign salvo and started defining Cabello/Maduro in electoral terms when these guys are involved in who knows what. The sole response of chavismo, best exemplified by a totally hysterical representative Eekhout, was to regurgitate 2002 events cliches.
In the end the assembly voted something that I am not sure folks actually remembered from a couple of hours earlier, so high was the tension. It was a resolution as to let Chavez do as he pleases and come to Venezuela whenever he feels like it. In other words, chavismo has now officially announced its intention not to respect article 231 which at the very least implies a provisional presidency until Chavez returns.
As explained in an earlier post article 231 cannot be turned around. Even admitting that there could be a provisional president is not possible; although for the sake of peace one could conceive a "national agreement" on a reinterpretation of the constitution. Article 231 is clear: if Chavez does not show up, new elections are called. As I wrote earlier, if chavismo had the intelligence to send some communique late December and name Maduro acting president we could be avoiding this crisis. But chavismo could not avoid it. Why?
First, in an autocratic neo totalitarian regime the power of the supreme leader cannot ever be questioned not even suspended for a brief period of time. Disease is not possible.
Second, in an autocratic neo totalitarian regime nobody trusts any one, and even less the potential heirs between themselves. Letting Cabello enter Miraflores Palace for a few weeks is simply a chance that the Maduro wing cannot take. We understood that very well during the intervention of the Communist representative Figuera.
Third, in an autocratic neo totalitarian regime successions take a long time to resolve themselves and such conclusions happen suddenly when one least expects. Clearly this week events show us that chavismo is far, very far from having solved its internal problems.
Fourth, in an autocratic neo totalitarian regime all depend on the great leader and his charisma or ways of control. From the December 16 chavismo victory it is clear that chavismo votes belong only to Chavez and that without Chavez December 16 could have been a chavista debacle. People who recognize in the National Assembly like Diosdado Cabello did today that without Chavez they would not be where they are now are people that have zero democratic genes in themselves and are thus ready to do whatever it takes to retain their privileges. Ill acquired usually.
The coup is not yet perpetrated but chavismo has shown its true colors today. We certainly knew their intentions but now there is no room for doubt. The next 48 hours will tell us whether chavismo will go through with its plan and proceed to a coup as the only way to maintain a precarious equilibrium between the military corrupt wing and the crazy ideological civilian wing. What is new today is that the opposition has finally reacted and strongly, enough to discombobulate chavismo and perhaps create international pressure over chavismo.
The constitutional coup is advancing but can yet be stopped. The high court will speak tomorrow and we may be told that it has been completed once and for all. From today chavista nervousness I have the feeling that if the Maduro wing is ahead the coup will be perpetrated but if the Cabello wing is leading than a last minute "arrangement" maybe found, or even the 231 will be fulfilled.
At any rate, proceeding with the coup in such a brazen way is the best way for chavismo to start its road to perdition. Chavez had the temper and chutzpah to violate the constitution when he pleased. That is not transferable.