By Luis Manuel Aguana
The first reaction of the official opposition in the National Assembly after Nicolás Maduro unconstitutionally convened a National Constituent Assembly on May 1, 2017 without the approval of the Venezuelan people was to form a “Front in Defense of the Constitution” (se in Spanish, La AN conformó el Comité del Frente en defensa de la Constitución, en https://www.panorama.com.ve/politicayeconomia/La-AN-conformo-el-Comite-del-Frente-en-defensa-de-la-Constitucion-20170525-0085.html). That same reaction of defending the current constitution has now had to convene urgently to discuss a constitutional amendment proposed by the legitimate Attorney General, Luisa Ortega Diaz, to “expressly prevent the reform, repeal, change, or lose validity of the current constitution for a period of 5 years …” (see in Spanish proposal of Luisa Ortega Díaz en https://twitter.com/lortegadiaz/status/1048609823380660224).
It is impressive to see that those who have become the first defenders of the legacy of the Galactic Hugo Chávez, which is none other than the 1999 Constitution, are still those who say to themselves Venezuelan opponents. I do not want to repeat again the damage that the 1999 Constitution has caused us and the reasons why we believe it should be changed as soon as possible. (see in Spanish, La lucha por una Constituyente Originaria debe continuar en http://ticsddhh.blogspot.com/2017/05/la-lucha-por-una-constituyente.html) but this time calling on the Venezuelan people to approve such a call.
To extend for 5 years the constitutional body of 1999 is unacceptable and a deception to Venezuelans because they must also request the approval of the people in a referendum to that amendment as established in Article 341.3 of the Constitution: “The Electoral Power shall submit the amendments to a referendum within thirty days following their formal reception”. And if the amendment must be submitted to referendum, then why not do it for an Original Constituent with a new government that the National Assembly has the obligation to designate immediately? Some will say that no other constitution has been the most comprehensive and protective of Human Rights. It is true. But it is also true that with no other constitution, paradoxically, the human rights of Venezuelans had been violated more than with the current Constitution.
In a forum with ANCO leaders from the State of Anzoátegui in the first days of the unconstitutional convocation of the constituent in May 2017 I referred to it in a direct way: “…No ruler, and especially El Libertador, in all the republican history of Venezuela ceded control to the States, not even after the Federal War, where the Federation triumphed, and from which, with the Constitution of 1864, we call ourselves the United States of Venezuela. Then, with the oil wealth, even less has political or economic power been ceded or shared with the States. The budgets, policies, infrastructure, health, education, security, environment, etc., everything that has to do with the quality of life of the citizen in each municipality, in each region of Venezuela, is decided by those who come to power in Caracas. That’s why nobody wants to give that up. Whoever puts their hands on the power decides for all of us…” (see in Spanish, Constituyente Originaria versus fraude constitucional, en http://ticsddhh.blogspot.com/2017/05/constituyente-originaria-versus-fraude.html)
The 1999 Constitution exponentially elevated that suffocating centralism, and it was the direct consequence of the stubbornness of the political sectors of not wanting to change the 1961 Constitution, which could give the regions the necessary respite to make reality the improvements that they urgently needed -already for that epoch- to manage their own realities. This debt is not only pending, but also carries such high interest rates that it would be impossible to conceive of a new political situation after the dictatorship that does not entail a constitutional change that reflects a true decentralization of power in Venezuela. It is in our crusade in the Alianza Nacional Constituyente-ANCO (http://ancoficial.blogspot.com/).
Hence, even though the Attorney General’s proposal to introduce an amendment so as not to change the constitution may seem “convenient,” it is definitely deceptive for Venezuelans. But the most serious thing is that it hides a situation of negotiated continuity between that “chavismo light” that the Attorney General represents and the official opposition that does not want to die after the dictatorship. They want to lengthen the situation by using any opportunity.
That’s why the “new Punto Fijo pact” proposed by journalist Júrate Rosales to María Corina Machado (see in Spanish El Diario de Júrate, Carta Abierta a María Corina Machado, en http://revistazeta.net/2018/11/04/el-diario-de-jurate-carta-abierta-a-maria-corina/) with Julio Borges, Ramos Allup, and Leopoldo López, in the search for “a free Venezuela” is nothing more than a strategy to refloat sunken leaderships, but at the expense of those who have sharply differentiated themselves from collaborationism with the regime: María Corina Machado, Diego Arria, and Antonio Ledezma within the platform of Soy Venezuela.
An Original Constituent with fair and broad bases for political participation in Venezuelan society would act as a kind of cleaning with chlorine and acid in depth of everything old to give the opportunity to express the true regional leaderships of civil society that have had no place in the exercise of politics, as well as give them openness to other leaderships that even belonging to known parties, have not had the chance to appear because they are not part of the threads that have prevented internal democracy of political parties.
A Constituent Assembly convened under these conditions, and directed at the very base of the Venezuelan people, would bring together the best of the representativeness of all the states of the country, of all tendencies and of all sectors. It would not be a re-edition of the same thing that has brought us here. A Constituent that comes out of this call could discuss the true reality of the States and of the country, not the one that would be imposed from the centralized structures of the parties or their national messianic leaderships that, no matter how much they have failed and collaborated with the regime, still deliberately impede the free exercise of partisan democracy.
It is not with a deceptive amendment that we will resolve the regime to stop what they intend to call for 9 December. They will do the same above the constitution as they have always done. What we Venezuelans must do is reject it categorically and NOT contest a new election in Venezuela that is not adjusted to the ruling of the legitimate Supreme Court of June 13, 2018: “By virtue of the above reasoning, it is declared NULL and INAPPLICABLE from the present date the use of the AUTOMATIZED VOTING AND ESCRUTINIO SYSTEM for the election of the positions of popular representation of the public powers, as well as for the celebration of the referendums, in the terms indicated in the article, in the terms indicated in the article.5 of the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. And so it is decided”. (see in Spanish Sentencia de Nulidad del Sistema Electoral venezolano, in http://ticsddhh.blogspot.com/2018/06/tribunal-supremo-de-justicia-declara.html).
The only conceivable course of action for Venezuelans is for the National Assembly to comply immediately with its constitutional obligation to replace the government of Nicolás Maduro Moros on the occasion of the Absolute Fault of the President of the Republic caused by his conviction published on October 29, 2018 by the legitimate Supreme Court of Justice (see in Spanish Sentencia en el Twitter Oficial del TSJ legitimo en, https://twitter.com/TSJ_Legitimo/status/1056859165187076096?s=03); and that this new government proceed to consult with Venezuelans whether or not to convene the Original Constituent to proceed with the institutional changes required to recover the life of the country, prior to a new election in Venezuela. Another thing is more collaborationism and continuation of the suffering of Venezuelans.
Caracas, November 5, 2018