By Luis Manuel Aguana
I had the distant hope that as a consequence of the economic debacle and the worsening of the situation of Venezuelans’ lives, the deputies of the National Assembly would have become aware to the extent of assuming the historic responsibility of appointing a new Emergency Government as a result of the sentence condemning the trial of Nicolás Maduro Moros for corruption and money laundering.
But no, they escaped the bundle by sneaking around on a legal and procedural technicality, indicating that they had not formally received the final judgment of Maduro’s trial, and worse still, by using a report from the Legal Consultancy of the National Assembly, conveniently dated July 30, 2018 – prior to Maduro’s final judgment on August 15, whose main argument is that there was no final judgment (by July 30th obviously there was not) to rule on a constitutional vacuum, when the legitimate TSJ invoked the “constitutional vacuum” in the Presidency of the Republic, because Article 380 of the COPP had been repealed by the 1999 Constitution: “In this regard, it should be noted that Article 380 of the COPP, invoked in the notified decision to maintain that there has been a constitutional vacuum, is a provision that was at least partially repealed by the 1999 Constitution, Article 42 of which excludes any suspension of the exercise of political rights that is not based on a “final judicial decision” (see in Spanish, Opinion of the Legal Consultancy on notification received from magistrates appointed by the National Assembly, at http://www.asambleanacional.gob.ve/noticias/_dictamen-de-la-consultoria-juridica-sobre-notificacion-recibida-de-magistrados-designados-por-la-an).
Obviously at the time of that report there was no “final court judgement” of Maduro. But by the date of the discussion in the National Assembly there was because he had already been sentenced. In this way they cleverly dismissed a posteriori, today, August 21, 2018, a mandate from the legitimate Supreme Court of Justice of July 2, 2018 to appoint a new government. A technicality.
Apart from the audacity of the Directive of the National Assembly to submit for “examination” by its Legal Consultancy a judgment of the High Court of the Republic, the opinion reaffirms the Agreement adopted by the National Assembly on January 9, 2017 and its consequences. And from there comes today’s agreement to ratify the AN’s decision to “abandon the office” of Nicolás Maduro (see in Spanish Agreement to ratify the decision of the National Assembly to declare the abandonment of the office of Nicolás Maduro Moros and his criminal responsibility for acts of corruption, at http://www.asambleanacional.gob.ve/actos/_acuerdo-de-ratificacion-de-la-decision-de-la-asamblea-nacional-de-declarar-el-abandono-del-cargo-de-nicolas-maduro-moros-y-sobre-su-responsabilidad-penal-por-hechos-de-corrupcion-vinculados-a-la-empre).
That is why I would like to reiterate what I have already emphasized on other occasions: While it is true that the Deputies DECLARED the Abandonment of the Office of Nicolás Maduro applying Article 233 of the Constitution, the truth is that they did not initiate any procedure that would allow the constitutional transition of the Presidency of the Republic, neither at the time they made that statement, nor now when they were formally requested by the judges of the legitimate Supreme Court as a result of a criminal trial against Maduro. Skillfully, the honorable deputies escaped the bundle of confronting the political decision that entails assuming that they have the responsibility to the Venezuelan people to initiate this procedure (see The dilemma of the National Assembly, at http://ticsddhh.blogspot.com/p/the-dilemma-of-national-assembly.html).
And that is what Deputy Juan Pablo García, from the 16th of July Fraction of the Assembly in an extraordinary session, urged them to do today, August 21, 2010, not on the basis of an absolute fault of the President, but on the basis of a final sentence of the legitimate Supreme Court of Justice: “On July 2, 2018, this legitimate Supreme Court ruled that the National Assembly should fill the constitutional vacancy of the Presidency of the Republic. More recently, on August 15, in his dispositive, he sentenced Nicolás Maduro to 18 years and 3 months in prison: what is left for us as legislators? Fulfill the mandate of that TSJ. We here designate a legitimate TSJ that by force majeure is outside but I have said it several times, that is creating international and national doctrine and jurisprudence and its decisions are binding. And this is how the OAS has recognized it, this is how Almagro has recognized it. And yesterday I said very bravely that we have to comply with that mandate…I call on the Board of Directors of the National Assembly, let us comply with the mandate! that is the step, brothers! that is the immediate step to achieve the freedom of the people of Venezuela!…Let us assume our responsibility and the consequences!…” (emphasis added) (see in Spanish National Assembly in session in rejection of the economic measures, intervention of Congressman Juan Pablo García, Faction 16J in https://youtu.be/GsTrD9xDZkI, min 25:25).
However, the defense of the Board’s position to freeze this decision was already in place with the intervention of Congressman Simón Calzadilla (MPV), who, beyond that, took over the defense of the Assembly for the alleged “attack” of the OAS Secretary General, Luis Almagro, against the President of the National Assembly, Omar Barboza. Secretary Almagro in his communication of August 20 to the National Assembly urged the institution presided by Omar Barboza to abide by the decisions of the legitimate Supreme Court of Justice for the good of the Venezuelan people (see in Spanish Communication from Luis Almagro to Omar Barboza, GSO/388-18 of August 20, 2018, https://twitter.com/Almagro_OEA2015/status/1031626342318661632).
It is worthwhile to analyze in detail the most important thing said by Congressman Calzadilla in his speech:”…The decisions of this National Assembly are taken by the body, that is to say by the deputies in the Chamber. The powers of the Board of Directors are duly regulated in our Rules of Procedure and in the Constitution…..Mr. SG of the OAS knows that this is a democratic Board of Directors and he knows that the President of the NA, Congressman Omar Barboza, does not have the competence to hear any court rulings, because in this case, if a sentence reaches the National Assembly, the competence for its decision would be the body… (Because the GS of the OAS) did not use the formula of cooperation, of diplomacy, to pick up a phone and communicate with the representative of our Board of Directors and Parliament to see what the status of the so-called Supreme Court ruling was, which for the information of the Venezuelan people in a formal way we do not know and do not know the terms of it. And according to what has been published in the media, there is a sentence ordering the arrest and imprisonment of the President of the Republic, and as Deputy Delsa Solórzano said, that is the competence of the State security agencies because nowhere in the Constitution is that competence of the National Assembly”. (highlighted by us) (see National Assembly meeting in rejection of economic measures, intervention by Congressman Simón Calzadilla, Progressive Movement of Venezuela, MPV at https://youtu.be/GsTrD9xDZkI, min 44:33).
To say only that a deputy, not even the President of the National Assembly, or any deputy, is not responsible for the decision of the Supreme Court of Justice in relation to the body in which they are collegiate, which is to say at least an outrage. If the legitimate Supreme Court delivers a sentence such as that of May 3, 2018, urging “the National Assembly to initiate the procedure that allows for the constitutional transition of the Presidency of the Republic, in accordance with Articles 233 and 234 of the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela”, each and every one of them are collectively responsible for the execution of that sentence (underscored by us) (see https://drive.google.com/file/d/1zzbu6gBkNSe0jKLwxRvlvxAeqTsSxiDe/view).
The insistence of Congressman Calzadilla and the President of the National Assembly, Omar Barboza, to disregard the ruling of the High Court in relation to Maduro’s sentence in Bogotá, aims to take Venezuelans for idiots. All of Latin America saw through the digital media when Magistrate Rommel Gil read the full sentence, with semicolons, from the place where Nicolás Maduro Moros was sentenced orally. The National Assembly can watch Judge Gil on YouTube at any time in the video “TSJ in Exile Sentences Maduro to 18 Years in Green Branch”, read by Judge Rommel Gil. https://youtu.be/FOABxN8BfKY. If they want to ignore a public, notorious and communicational fact because they are waiting for a paper with the signature of the judges of the legitimate Supreme Court of Justice in the 19th century so that they can deign to solve what Venezuela urgently claims to survive this tragedy, then those are not the representatives we need to solve the crisis, because they are deliberately delaying its solution.
It is clear that what corresponds to the security forces in relation to Maduro’s detention is their absolute and proper responsibility, as Congresswoman Solórzano pointed out in her speech paraphrased by Congressman Calzadilla. But what falls to the National Assembly, which is nothing other than the appointment of an Emergency Government to replace the regime, as a result of Maduro’s trial and sentence, is the absolute responsibility of the National Assembly. And that is what OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro rightly pointed out in his communication, saying: “Compliance, as well as the support and confidence of the National Assembly (NA) towards the legitimate TSJ, are essential steps for a transition to democracy in Venezuela through justice and re-institutionalization. Failure to comply would place you on the margins of democratic institutions and make you an accomplice to a dictatorship that has destroyed the country”. And that’s why they didn’t like being told harshly, which is exactly what happened. After this contempt, they formally became accomplices to the dictatorship.
And it was not “a false assumption” on which Luis Almagro’s letter was based, as Omar Barboza said in his speech (see in Spanish National Assembly, session in rejection of economic measures, speech by Deputy Omar Barboza, President of the National Assembly, closing of the speeches, at the end of the debate at https://youtu.be/GsTrD9xDZkI, min 1:13:22), nor did he say “things that have a totally false foundation”, because he could not assume anything when he is referencing a public, notorious and communicational sentence, which apparently those who want to ignore it are precisely those in whom the people of Venezuela placed their trust on 6D-2015.
Almagro does not say that the President of the NA has not wanted to execute a legitimate TSJ sentence, but what he does is warn that if he does not do so for “the slight use of formalities to turn his back on the body of evidence presented and analysed by the TSJ through the Oral and Public Trial initiated on 2 August, it is to excuse the AN from the dictatorship despite its criminal actions already judged by the legitimate judiciary”. (highlighted by us)
Well, that’s exactly what happened. They lightly and deliberately used legal formalities to turn their backs on Venezuelans and avoid the appointment of a new Emergency Government as expected by the Venezuelan people. Unfortunately, Luis Almagro’s communication was premonitory and extraordinarily accurate. It was not surprising then that the Deputy President of the National Assembly had previously felt that he had been referred to in a warning that became a reality, not when the communication was sent to him, as he himself pointed out, but after that regrettable extraordinary session, since Secretary Almagro’s warning was shown to be a bluntly true fact. It would be that he felt guilty before he knew it was going to happen. It is now up to the people of Venezuela, who, unlike those who represent them, if they maintain the principles cited by the Secretary General of the OAS, to assume in their place with courage they did not want to face today in the National Assembly, making use of the tools and constitutional resources available for the restoration of order and legality in Venezuela.
Caracas, July 21, 2018