Yesterday's High Court, TSJ, decision was not earth shattering, by far, but it was momentous nevertheless. Though its effect has to be sought in the psyche of the players rather than any direct consequences. For the opposition, it makes little difference except that the intention of putting Capriles behind bars is truly obvious. Strategy adjustments will have to be made accordingly. For chavismo the consequences are more complex.
Nobody really expected anything from the TSJ. Personally I thought that the TSJ would have admitted the electoral challenges but ruled over them in any convenient political way at its best convenience, anywhere from rejecting them to approving them to get rid of Maduro. Thus, the outright rejection of the challenges without examination surprised me in that it revealed that the inner fights of chavismo have been put on hold, that Maduro has improved his internal positions and that they decided to put all their efforts in avoiding a debacle next December. In a practical way they need all their militants to collaborate for the "bring in the vote" and the necessary cheating required to "win". We can thus expect lot's a loving inside the PSUV.
And yet the ruling fails badly at where it matters the most. The TSJ admitted for all practical purposes that Maduro did not win in April. For all in Venezuela it is now clear that the "victory" was achieved through significant cheating, that chavismo is not a majority anymore. I insist, even for chavistas who know it as a fact but pretend it otherwise. It is just a matter of self interest, or of idiocy for portions of the rank and file who are only too willing to believe any propaganda line. For this last group, even if Capriles had officially won they would go around saying that there was electoral fraud against Maduro. This is not new, it already happened in times of AD and COPEI. What I am trying to say here is that the TSJ non-ruling but a ruling is going to have an demotivating effect among chavismo. You can see that by the PSUV leaders addressing that issue as discretely as possible compared to the loud protests of the opposition, focusing on their candidate appointments today.
But the damage goes further. Now the opposition can harp more about the electoral fraud and make an ever better argument that people need to participate, to stay at all voting stations until every ballot is counted to diminish fraud if they want a chance to improve their lot in the long term, if anything by having a better garbage pick up. Also, overseas the regime made the case easier for the opposition. Now we will have plenty of delegations going to all parliaments and courts of justice to explain, facts in hand, why there is no justice in Venezuela and henceforth make it a more convincing case that there is no democracy since there is no independent justice. Not that this will leave Maduro et al. sleepless, as the recent reëlection of Mugabe is a shining road to follow. Still, it is annoying for the chavista leadership that craves "respectability" to see all receiving them with a slight ironic smile while waiting for the check before singing any agreement.
For the opposition, besides the added plus for international opinion, if they play it well, and the creation of a martyr to be leader a la Aung San, they get a boost for its electoral mobilization. Now, any "dissent" running as a pretend in between chavismo and the MUD will get at best the votes of realtives and the disgruntled chavista that did not receive the free gift, so to speak.... Yet there is a very dark side. The opposition leadership is now under siege and prosecution and jails are in the works for many of them. The MUD was sent a clear message that this is becoming a true dictatorship and that actions will be taken. We have to see if finally the MUD will stop fooling itself and speak clearly to the country, letting all the wimps out of its coalition and focusing on the real fight with real democrats and not hanger on or outright moles.
I am putting this separate because I do not want to make a full post about it. The international actions for the opposition are of a long term nature if they succeed. And even then, it will require that at the very least enough countries take economic sanctions, etc... Because no marine is going to land in Venezuela. They are not landing in Syria, you know....
Yet, it is worthwhile pushing international actions.
First, Mugabe may be a cheat but he is not received in any decent country which eats him inside. The same applied for Chavez and will apply for Maduro and Diosdado. These people crave "respectability, and the ability to enjoy what they stole in the in places of the world.
Second, some of the actions may have positive effects at home. For example I do not know why the opposition is not announcing as of now that it will invoke the Protocol of Ushuaia of Mercosur. With Paraguay wondering the worth of returning to Mercosur, such a petition will create enough embarrassment in the accomplices of the regime in the Mercosur that they may at least demand discretely that Capriles does not go to jail. There are campaigns coming in three countries where the right democrats would love to have additional arguments to criticize the left for its fake attachment for human rights.
Third, it will complicate the intrigues of the regime as the opposition now is in good position to state that if they get back into office they reserve the right to recognize deals made from now on. Now they do not need to worry about internal backlash because they can call a spade a spade, or rather, a corrupt, a corrupt.