Tuesday, January 08, 2013

A guide to January 10

OK, so vacation is nearly over and it is time to blog a little bit more consistently. Thus I thought you may appreciate a short guide to January 10, now that the media and web and blogs are overflowing with all sorts of things.

Is there a coup d'etat? Technically not yet. True, the Chavez regime has made so many coups already that one would tend to think that the actual coup to ensure that Chavez rules after his demise has already been done.  But it has not, yet (though a mini judicial coup has been done to silence the last remaining independent voice in the high court in prevision of this week). Whatever coup chavismo is planning to avoid the constitutional rule will be done from this typing until sometime on January 10 when supposedly Chavez should be sworn in.

The implications of this are that 1) Chavez may actually show up on January 10 (odds below 0,1%) or 2) Chavez will not show up and chavismo will decide on something not to go to early elections to replace Chavez (that is when we will see the nature of the coup and will be able to react to it) or 3) Diosdado Cabello is sworn in, the Constitution is not violated, however the nature and date of elections will certainly make them illegitimate (I give it, believe it or not, a 25% odd).

The iron rule. According to article 231 of the Constitution someone has to be sworn in on January 10 at the latest. Period. What assholes like Marco Aurelio Garcia may say is irrelevant.

There are other articles that regulate this and that but the iron rule is that whomever is elected president after a normal 6 years term has to be sworn on January 10. I personally think that there is a stupid rigidity there for a Constitution that is "flexible" elsewhere, but it is the law and failure to swear someone on January 10 is a break in the constitutional rule of Venezuela and can be used by the opposition to question the post January 10 regime, if it has the guts for it.

How could the regime have escaped the iron rule? It could, not constitutionally  mind you, but through a "national agreement". For this it would have required that Chavez admit his condition earlier than he did, that he told the  truth about his condition, that he allowed a medical committee to follow his treatment , that he delegated his power to his vice president as the Constitution requires but that he avoided, and then only then, there could have been an agreement between the national assembly (oppo and chavismo included) and the high court to vote a law allowing a "provisional" swearing in by the national assembly chair  preserving the cabinet that Chavez would have left in place.

But Chavez hubris could not allow for such provisions and now we are in front a potential major crisis.

What chavismo could do at this point. It seems that it is headed toward some form of internal compromise that would ensure a status quo of sorts under the excuse that Chavez may come back at some point. Maduro would stay in office under the pretense that Chavez reelection makes his swearing in irrelevant, that his administration keeps going on as if nothing.

We can thus expect some kind of ruling from the high court that would allow, for example, a "provisional presidency" of  Diosdado Cabello allowing him to change ministers only if they resign and singing bills only if the cabinet in full signs them. Or the high court may be crass enough to say that the constitution is incomplete, not addressing that specific reelection case and as such they decide what is going to happen. In other words the high court writes the constitution. Writes it, does not interpret it "freely", WRITES IT.  Think about that for a second.

What chavismo would do later. It all depends on how the internal struggles between the military branches of chavismo and the radical "civilian" one end up. Remember that for all practical purposes the military is the main branch of power in Chavez coalition and that we are a military regime. Maduro represents a "civilian" branch though certainly not a democratic one. Nicolas Maduro and Diosdado Cabello are equally dictatorship prone, but they disagree on the terms, the modality, tthe Cuban role, etc...  The date of future elections is more dependent on which side takes over than the actual death of Chavez. But we can be sure that these elections will not be free nor fair as neither one of these clowns has the charisma to carry the day as Chavez did.

What the opposition can do. Little.  First, it needs to find guts somewhere  Second, it needs to send a clear message before January 10 that it will not accept anything that says otherwise to article 231. Third, it has to announce before January 10 that they will go to the OAS and complain about constitutional breach just as it was done by others in the recent cases of Honduras or Paraguay.

Let's say that I have my strong doubts, that many inside the opposition will think naively that gaining more time is good for their electoral prospects, etc, etc...  Right now, any election held before a devaluation has a 95% chances to go to the chavista candidate.  And I am generous.  Many inside the opposition delude themselves in that once Chavez is dead it will be over.  It will not be. Even if cavismo may not be as strong a system as  peronism as been in Argentina  there will be quite a lot of inertia and oil money available to allow chavismo to survive Chavez for a few years. Not decades maybe but certainly years. 14 years of chavismo have created a deep divide inside Venezuela that cannot be bridged that easily, even for a basal non aggression pact.  There is really a very large chunk of the population that is full of ideological garbage and/or willful state dependency to cure that in just an election.  There are consequences with shameless populism over an ignorant hoi polloi.

What will happen on January 10? Interesting question, no?  I think nobody knows yet.  Machado was telling us on TV tonight that normally for such a solemn occasions the National Assembly direction would have already issued guidelines. Thus there is the possibility that NOTHING will happen on January ten, that under some last minute excuse the assembly is not called to session!

Some heads of state have announced their arrival for the swearing in. But we do not know if they indeed will show up until, say, Wednesday night. One thing is to say "I am going to Hugo's swearing in" and another to go when the regime does not inform you of the hour, time and place....  Maybe we will get clues as the intentions of Maduro, Cabello and Raul when we learn of carrying presidents planes flying to Caracas....

And heck, even a zombified Chavez could show up.....

What can you do? Do not even bother writing a tweet to Aveledo or Capriles, they are sinking faster than what you think (though Aveledo could float better).  The only thing you can do if you are in Venezuela is to make sure you have at home water, food and batteries to last you for a week. I am not kidding: the opposition will not do, cannot do anything even if it wanted to  But the infighting within chavismo could spread faster than a prairie fire..... Time to clean up your closets or do that 1500 jigsaw puzzle you were given 10 years ago.


  1. Stefan6:18 AM

    A Chavez hologram will be sworn in.

  2. Daniel mark my words. The Castros have put Maduro in power and will keep him there at all costs while they sort out the next move.

  3. Good article from the Miami Herald. Did the Cubans really choose 7 October election date based on Chavez health?


  4. kernel_panic9:28 AM

    OMFG, Daniel, how on earth does an Invader Zim image end up in a venezuelan politics blog...

    And now, more on-topic, no, the oppo won't do poopies about this whole mess and chavismo would do as it pleases and everyone, inside venezuela and out will ask this single question: "who signs my check?", and that's all.

    To all who say that USA is the "land of opportunity", this is yet another evidence of how wrong that is, it's Venezuela! Where, literally, you can do whatever you want and the only question asked is "cuanto hay pa eso".

    1. Hey! I try to put pics that make people talk! :)

  5. They are apparently reading you...!


  6. Dr. Faustus10:41 AM

    "The only thing you can do if you are in Venezuela is to make sure you have at home water, food and batteries to last you for a week."

    Oh my. That would cause a run on all food provisions, on every store shelve, across Venezuela. With little money left to re~stock those store shelves, how does the PSUV intend to hold an election when Chavez dies in a week or so? Or in a month? ...a couple of months? It's an insanity.

    1. Dr.

      Most homes in Venezuela have got into the habit to have a pantry stocked with at least one week of food. No panic rush expected, I was just writing this for ex pats reading this blog :)

    2. Old habits die hard. My lovely caraqueno spouse of 13 years still keeps the pantry stuffed with supplies.....here in Houston!

  7. The wheel that squeaks the loudest / Is the one that gets the grease.


    at this stage of the game why are people arguing the finer points of the law, knowing that Chavismo will do what they wish anyway?

    Complaints to the OAS? In what climate will these complaints be received?

    In a climate of voting in order to provide Chavez a fig leaf of Democracy and a total acceptance of the results by the opposition, and a complete lack of anger on the streets that could possibly show the world their indignation.

    What incentive does any other country have to support the opposition?

    The only thing that might make a difference are whole scale demonstrations protesting violations to the Constitution, but apparently their is a total lack a' guaramo'.I wonder why?


    1. cochonette en feu

      that it is useless is no excuse not to do it.

      and people are not protesting because we all know that constitutions in venezuela are there for decor.

  8. Daniel, are you watching the press conference that Capriles is giving right now by Globovision?? I'm amazed and how strong and clear he is being. He's attacking quite directly Cabello and demanding the TSJ to decide. he's also saying that to call the people out on the 10th is irresponsible, same thing for other countries to interfere.

    1. Carolina,

      Cuba is already interfering, everyday of the year so what does it mean when Capriles calls people not to go out? That countries other than Cuba not interfere?


    2. Check out the videos. He asked other presidents not to play the political game of the government regarding Jan 10th., which is what this post is about.




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