A plebiscite, the solution to Venezuela’s deadlock

By Luis Manuel Aguana

Versión en español

At this point in the country’s history, I would venture to say that it is difficult to find any Venezuelan who does not have a clearly formed criterion in relation to what is happening, who or who is responsible for the crisis and what the solutions may be to get out of the problem. On January 23, 2019, all Venezuelans thought they agreed when the official opposition headed by President Juan Guaidó Márquez, reciting the famous mantra “Cessation of the Usurpation-Government of Transition-Free Elections,” summed up for the country in a few words a clear route that would lead us to end years of misgovernment. That was really the success of the 23E.

But if we add to that the fact that in order to make this mantra official, the National Assembly unanimously approves the Law of the Statute for the Transition where this route is put in black and white, establishing the terms of a transitional government and the guidelines for holding elections after a maximum of 12 months, we were then – or thought we were – faced with a unanimity of criteria in the country: We left the delinquents first, to then establish a transitional government (of course entirely opposed) that would lead us to an electoral process free of pitfalls in a maximum of time established in the aforementioned law.

With that in hand, the opposition took to the streets to demand this “cease of usurpation” without realizing that as in previous years we were asking for the same thing: that the government yield and leave without more force than the reason for its illegitimacy. And that, as in previous years, again cost the same in violence, detentions, torture and deaths. The opposition leadership from 23E itself had no new idea of how to resolve this “cessation of usurpation” beyond sleeping with the enemy, something that was bitterly discovered last April 30, and later with the negotiations carried out in Norway.

On the other hand, another group of Venezuelans have insisted that the only way to stop the usurpation is to stop considering the regime as a politically belligerent group that can be negotiated with but as criminal gangs that must be evicted by international force, arguing the Responsibility that States have to come out in the protection of Venezuelan citizens (R2P) victims as we are of crimes of Lesa Humanidad by the regime, and that the authorization contained in the Constitutional 187#11 which gives the green light to foreign military peace missions to accompany humanitarian aid be approved as soon as possible. This possibility has been persistently denied by President Juan Guaidó and practically the majority of parties represented in the National Assembly.

It has not been possible to reconcile an agreed action between the two opposition groups. The Directive of the National Assembly is the one that leads constitutionally the strategies to achieve this “Cessation of Usurpation” and the only one that recognizes the International Community as the one that directs the actions to leave the regime through the methods they deem convenient. That is why they do not wish to open the game to other opposition actors so that together an agreed solution can be sought, even if this is for the good of Venezuelans.

It will be 6 months since that 23E and the disappointment and confusion of the country cannot be greater as well as its deepest deterioration. We are in a situation that technology specialists call “deadlock”, mutual blockade, interlock or deadly embrace. This is a technical condition in which one falls when two or more actors (processes) remain in a circular wait for a resource that the other has in order to resolve their mission. It is exemplified in a simple way with two actors: “two children who try to play bow and arrow, one takes the bow, the other the arrow. No one can play until someone releases what they took” (see Wikipedia, Mutual Block, in  https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloqueo_mutuo).

Applying the example, the official opposition, although legitimate, cannot exercise the government because the regime has the strength and the regime, even with its strength, cannot force the official opposition -nor the rest of Venezuelans- to recognize it, and that is why its performance is prevented by all means and the sanctions against its members are deepened. The net result is that all Venezuelans are victims of the situation of both actors. On the other hand, the official opposition refuses to request the application of the international force to unblock the game that it itself initiated by proposing a path that had no other possible solution than the exclusion of the opposite, a path on which we all agreed but which did not have a possible solution if we did not have the force of arms to apply it, nor the willingness to request it outside the country.

What, then, is the solution to this mutual blockade? If the official opposition does not want a way out of force, nor is the international community willing to do so, the mantra solution is not possible without making adjustments. What then is the approach? Far from renouncing our first option, international force (because we are dealing with criminals), I believe that an alternative solution is possible that, without forgetting the advantages of the force solution, offers guarantees to all parties to release the resources they both have for the benefit of the Venezuelans. And what is this possible solution? A negotiated plebiscite. Let’s see:

The international community has insisted ad nauseam on an “electoral” solution to our problem. If you are in the majority, then “measure with Maduro” is what the European Union says. But Venezuelans do not recognize Maduro’s current presidency because the electoral process of May 20, 2018 was illegitimate, nor Maduro himself, since Maduro was convicted of corruption and legitimizing capital, and illegitimate from the very beginning because he could not even be a candidate in 2013, when he then occupied the Vice Presidency of the Republic. But it is a fact that he now holds de facto power and arms.

However, the International Community DOES NOT RECOGNIZE IT TAMPOCO and the European Union and the Lima Group press for an electoral process, especially because the latter was constituted due to the lack of knowledge of the spurious National Constituent Assembly that called for the elections of May 20, 2018. If we turn that desire of the International Community for elections into a Plebiscite that decides with a YES or NO the continuity of Maduro in Power, we would be satisfying that requirement of the world that basically says the same thing as us: that the Venezuelan people decide what to do with Maduro. In the end, the right of Venezuelans, which was violated by the regime when it prevented Maduro’s Revocatory Referendum in 2016, would also be restored.

Why do I say the plebiscite must be negotiated? Because in the mantra there is no negotiation possible, so it is a logical contradiction that Guaidó has gone to Norway to “negotiate” that Maduro left. Which usurper ruler comes to a negotiation table to negotiate his head? What stupidity is that? If you want to negotiate, negotiate something that can be negotiated. And there I enter the next part of this proposal: the transitional government. Note here that it is necessary to dismantle the Transition Statute Law as a prerequisite for the plebiscite proposal to make sense.

In the trilogy of the mantra the presence of the regime or any of its representatives is not raised. It could not be there. And this is because the nature of the mantra itself did not allow it, which was to root out the regime, to constitute an opposition transitional government that would lead us to free elections. This plebiscite proposal would offer to negotiate the composition of that transitional government with the regime first. Do you think that’s scandalous? No one will sit around waiting for a plebiscite without first negotiating the terms of its exit. And that alone could guarantee that is what will happen the next minute of leaving power for the plebiscite. The proposal would be to offer a participation in the percentage result of the opposition versus the percentage of the regime in that plebiscite, requesting at the same time the dismantling of the spurious National Constituent Assembly, and of course to negotiate what the criminals would ask to leave (which they have already said, to lift their sanctions). I don’t think Guaidó and the G4 are pruritus with this if they were willing on April 30 to have Padrino López as Minister of Defense and Maikel Moreno as President of the TSJ.

The last and most important thing would be the guarantees of compliance. How do you sell the Venezuelan to go to a plebiscite if the closing of the regime does not comply with the result? What system of counting votes would be implemented? There is the detail, Cantinflas, dixit. The entire international community must be convinced of this solution beforehand, especially the United States. Why? Because then there, before even proceeding with the idea, one would have to count on the certain and credible threat of a foreign multinational intervention to enforce the result of that plebiscite. The votes would have to be counted one by one with the technical intervention of the OAS, opening the bowels of the CNE. That would not be negotiable.

Some will tell me what if the regime refuses? Then let the force proceed because this is the way to go. Others will ask and what would be the plebiscite question? None. The numbered ballot of the Chilean plebiscite only said “Plebiscite-President of the Republic, Augusto Pinochet Ugarte, YES NO” to mark with an X above each option (see “Plebiscite-President of the Republic, Augusto Pinochet Ugarte, YES NO”(see https://ciperchile.cl/wp-content/uploads/Voto_1988_plebiscito_1-900×600-e1537908281498.jpg). We’d just change the name. If the official opposition wants to negotiate, then they should negotiate openly and face all Venezuelans a plebiscite so that we can define what to do with this country. The rest is to follow an indefinite course of irreconcilable mortal embrace, with death as the only unblocking…

Caracas, June 5, 2019

Blog: http://ticsddhh.blogspot.com/

Email: luismanuel.aguana@gmail.com

Twitter:@laguana