Thursday, January 03, 2013

Epiphany is coming one day earlier in 2013

Epiphany is January 6 and commemorates, supposedly, the three wise men that went to adore Jesus, even though by this time he was probably in Egypt already. But I digress...  The fact of the matter is that a true epiphany is coming to Venezuela on January 5.

There is a whirlwind of rumors about what the hell is going on with Chavez in Havana.  I do not share the theory that is is all a mere conspiracy theory and that Chavez is suddenly coming back on December 9 as the conquering hero, ready to be sworn in for a bright presidential term on January 10. I think the guy is rally sick and I am not willing to cross him out quite yet. But I have strong doubts that he will show up on January 10. Heck, we have not heard peep squeak from him since December 11 (I think). If the guy was indeed preparing himself to return to Caracas this weekend I am sure that we would have seen either a picture of  him or heard at least a short from call on the air through VTV.

We must thus work on the 99% hypothesis that he will not be in Caracas on January 10 (note, I give it a 99% because there is always a 1% with these crazy guys, drama queenized to the tilt).

There is a huge "constitutional" debate about what article so and so means if Chavez does not show up. Well, first the Constitution says what chavista say it says.  There is already significant concern about that as today we heard that from Brazil and the US that the Constitution should be applied din Venezuela. True, at least from Brazil that may mean they will recognize as constitutional what is convenient for them and ensures that Venezuela will pay its big debts to Brazilian companies.

I personally think that there are ways to manipulate the Constitution as to when new elections may have to be held if Chavez does not show up and a replacement is required.  However there is one thing that apparently chavismo will not be able to by pass: if January 10 Chavez is not in Caracas to take office, then the provisional president is the chair of the National Assembly until elections are held.  thus the date of January 5 (which can be postponed as late as January 9 I suppose) becomes crucial as it is the date when the National Assembly elects its chair for the 2013 legislative year.

Let's assume that chavismo is not going to be crazy enough to flout through and through the Constitution and that indeed a new National Assembly chair is sworn in before January 10.  This will be our political epiphany because, well, the post Chavez era will officially start.

In case Diosdado Cabello retains his seat it may mean that indeed he will not seek to replace Chavez just yet. He will name a new government on January 10 (probably 90% recycled from the current one), Maduro will be out of office but the official candidate of chavismo and though some excuses that the calendar and the TSJ will provide (there is a holiday week in February  we will have elections late February at the latest (because a month is too short but chavismo needs them ASAP anyway, so I am betting 40 days for election).  Then again there is always the option of Diosdado deciding anyway on January 11 to run for office, or start some coup.

The second hypothesis is that Diosdado is not reelected chair of the National Assembly. Then, everything goes. If one of his minions is elected we can expect him to announce his candidacy even before January 10. If a Maduro loyalist is sworn in it may mean that the downfall of Diosdado has started and that the army has decided to abandon him and side with Maduro.  And more craziness that I care not proceed with.

At any rate, we can now measure to its large extent the mistakes of the MUD and Capriles since October 7. Recognizing Chavez victory as they did, letting governors fend on their own without any basic program, only lead to a major sweep of chavismo on December 16. As a consequence of that sweep not only Capriles is now a faulty candidate but there is no easy replacement for him in sight and the opposition has less means, if any, to oppose even a candidate as lacking as Maduro.  In short, we are woefully under prepared for the challenges that come as of today.  Chavismo would be foolish not to seek an election that they could win with relative ease if held by March 15.  But then again, the disarray within chavismo can offer us some surprises, from an outright "coup" alleging that after all a reelected Chavez does not need to be sworn in, to more simply a fatal division among chavismo that gives the victory to an opposition that will be unable to deal with the inheritance of Chavez and probably unable to hold to office for long.

Oh well, back to my vacation.....


  1. "that will be unable to deal with the inheritance of Chavez". I agree and think that regretfully Chavismo, despite how harmful it has been, must implode politically before it is replaced by a democratic government.

  2. I don't think Maduro can afford to be out of office for any length of time. He will fade like a New York Orchid and it will be difficult for him to regain traction.

  3. Dr. Faustus4:39 PM

    Let's step into the world of the macabre and follow the logic on this one.

    1) There is little doubt that Chavez is incapable of holding office, even were his condition to improve.
    2) Behind the scenes the PSUV is in a panic because they see the extreme danger of holding off a new election. No devaluation is possible prior to an election, and thus the Venezuelan economy is sliding into the abyss.
    3) Behind the scenes the Cubans, Nicaraguans, the Bolivians, the Argentinians, the Ecuadorians etc, are ALSO in a panic because they see the danger of a protracted election period as well. They ALL hang on to Chavez's largess.
    4) January 10th comes along and the PSUV admits that HE can no longer govern, puts Cabello in charge of the government and calls for new elections during the first week of February.
    5) But,...but,...what if HE is still ALIVE?

    Sorry,...sorry, but now it really gets macabre. There is no outpouring of grief from the populace during the election cycle because HE is still in a hospital bed in Cuba. Confusion reigns throughout Venezuela as a result. Maduro is in trouble. He needs a boost. Cuba is in trouble. Fidel and Raul see the danger of losing the election. So, here's Hugo laying in a hospital bed in Cuba, with all kinds of gizmos attached to his arms and legs, with Cuban technitions, Cuban nurses all around and a whole bunch of strange people wandering in and out of his room. With a shudder, Hugo gets upright in his hospital bed with thoughts of political expediency dancing in his head. He's no longer worth it! Alive, that is. He quickly learns to sleep with just one eye closed.....

  4. Dr. Faustus6:54 PM

    If you still think my logic is far~fetched, read this article that just came out on Bloomberg:

    The next 48 to 72 hours are going to be fascinating to watch!

  5. Daniel, the Constitution is so badly written that anything can be interpreted. Here's what the 231 says:

    Artículo 231. El candidato elegido o candidata elegida tomará posesión del cargo de Presidente o Presidenta de la República el diez de enero del primer año de su período constitucional, mediante juramento ante la Asamblea Nacional. Si por cualquier motivo sobrevenido el Presidente o Presidenta de la República no pudiese tomar posesión ante la Asamblea Nacional, lo hará ante el Tribunal Supremo de Justicia.

    The last sentence can be intepreted in several ways. My guess is that, if Chávez is still alive, that sentence will be used.

  6. Milonga12:24 AM

    President Mujica of Uruguay has asked for authorization to leave the country, without saying where to he is going. Although it has been known that it will either be Cuba or Venezuela, leaving the country January 9th. Speculation is that they're keeping Chávez alive until the 10th so Maduro can be sworn in. Or something of the sort. Don't they have to call elections anyway? We're praying for Venezuela. Difficult times we're seeing!


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