As I have been writing through December in any possible way that I could come up with, the confrontation between the regime and the opposition new National Assembly is inevitable. And started in all earnest today. By demanding that almost a dozen MUD representative election is to be questioned, the regime has deprived the new majority of its supernumerary majority of 2/3 which would have allowed it to change some of the worst and more repressive and manipulative laws approved under Chavez. Namely the laws that ensure the regime's near dictatorial nature such as freedom of expression and control of the judiciary by the regime (absolute, 100% control by the way as nobody remembers the last time the regime lost a case in the high court TSJ).
True, the Assembly still preserves the 3/5 super-majority that it needs to control fiscal aspects of the regime, but the ones that matter, the ones that can bring back democracy to Venezuela, are, for the time being, lost. Let's look at some details.
The regime uses two excuses to justify that up to a dozen of the newly elected representatives should not be seated. Note: such massive annulment is unprecedented in Venezuela since regular elections started in 1958, the more so that the regime controls tightly the electoral system which makes it implausible the theory that the opposition could commit fraud at election time (see OAS secretary Almagro 18 pages letter to Tibisay Lucena, head of the electoral board CNE).
The first motive is that in a few districts the amount of nil votes is larger than the margin of victory of the opposition candidate. In the eyes of the regime PSUV vehicle this mean that the real will of the people has not been expressed. In short: the regime does not recognize the possibility of the nil vote.
The first line of criticism against such a view is that if the nil vote needs to be taken into account then there should be no abstention and everyone should be obliged to vote. An obligation, by the way, that chavismo removed in the Constitution of 1999. The second immediate objection is that there is no way to say which way the nil vote would have gone if these people had been "obliged" to make a choice. At least in that part of the ruling the representatives are not unseated outright but the TSJ has opened the door to repeat the election in those district without any justifiable reason, going over the attributions of the CNE which should decide on such matters BEFORE the TSJ does. That is, if you consider that the CNE did not give you justice then you go to the high court of the country. The regime simply uses its stronghold on the judicial power to dictate the resolutions it needs to be dictated, bypassing whatever needs to be bypassed, starting with the will of the people.
The second motive is that apparently in the state of Amazonas, in the Wild South of the country, there may have been cases of vote buying. First, let's note the absolute cynicism of the regime who has made it an institutional practice to buy vote and blackmail public employees in voting for the regime, as they did in Amazonas. After the vote we have Maduro himself on record saying that since people did not vote for him he did not see any point in keeping building housing for them. We have the director of electrical service in Venezuela firing people suspected of not having voted for the regime. We have the documented distributions of goodies such as tablets, before the election. But even if we assume that there was indeed vote buying by the Amazonas governor who seats with the opposition, how do you know the people blackmailed into voting for you did so in the end? After all the vote is secret EVEN in Amazonas; and in other areas where the regime exerted huge pressure it lost the election anyway. For example in ALL of Caracas districts. Thus vote "buying" is no guarantee of vote "getting".
Let's go a little further in the vote buying supposition. Before you write a sentence to unseat an elected representative for Amazonas, which the TSJ just did, you need to have an investigation, possibly a trial, definitely real verifiable evidence. None of these things exist to this writing, we only have declarations of the PSUV direction with an illegal phone tapping which authenticity has yet to be established. I will go further, you need to prove that the elected representatives actually worked directly at vote buying. It is quite conceivable that a third party with interest in the electoral result may have bought the vote behind the scenes but that is no reason to punish FIRST the elected official, without a trial, even a fake trial.
I trust that with these very simple arguments stated above it is quite clear for the reader that what is going on is a judicial coup to deny the genuine expression of the people of Venezuela in rejecting the regime. Period.
What can the opposition do?
It started by the easiest way offered by the hurried desperation of the regime: it decided to demand that the justices in charge of that sentence be declared as unfit for conflict of interests. See, one of the judges is someone who was a PSUV representative in the outgoing Assembly and was hurriedly, and illegally, appointed judge a week ago. Clearly, such a judge, member of the PSUV until a very few days ago, cannot be fair and impartial. And more like that.
The opposition has also other choices. It can go international and has already enough evidence to require that the OAS applies the sanctions previewed in its democracy chart. That is, demand that Venezuela be not recognized anymore as a functional democracy. Just with the precedent of the 18 page letter of OAS secretary Almagro it is near impossible that the regime wins its case. A letter has already been sent to various organizations.
However international help, if it comes, is slow. Meanwhile at home the choices are not as clear. The Assembly may decide to seat the questioned deputies anyway and thus enter in a direct power confrontation. The TSJ may disband the New Assembly for contempt, etc. etc......
The fact of the matter is that the regime has decided to use any way it can to annul the MUD victory. And that is that. Recent evidence? Maduro is using the remaining two days of his enabling law to dictate more control measures to limit the scope of action of the new Assembly. He also said that he could not care less about the new "burguesa" assembly, that he was going against the "capitalismo salvaje"
In case you have any doubt of the totalitarian mentality of the regime there is that clip from yesterday when on live TV a Maduro supporter said that any deserter of chavismo should be put down with a bullet though the head, gesture included. Maduro laughed and told him that such things cannot be said on live TV, which implies that off camera chavismo has no problem using violent and foul language to discuss the fate of its opponents/deserters/traitors. You can see the complete video to truly measure the nature of these people here, if your Spanish allows (the shooting gesture is clearer in the long version).
Friends, it is going to get worse before it gets better.