By Luis Manuel Aguana
The negative – and some virulent – reactions of the Venezuelan political leadership to the proposal of a popular consultation, carried out by the President of Ecuador, Lenín Moreno, reminded me of those people who give their opinion of a book just by reading the cover. And I was not surprised by some of them, coming from politicians who never considered consulting with the Venezuelan people before July 16, 2017 and now argue not to do so because “the people have already been consulted,” and they use precisely that consultation for which they did not raise a single finger in order to hold their own political flags. It is these people that we Venezuelans have to be very careful of in the coming turbulent times when no one is what they seem.
None of them stopped for 24 hours to analyze because Lenin Moreno said what he said and what he said can be extracted to try to solve with the help of the international community the very serious problem we are going through in Venezuela. Not even those who immediately agreed to buy Lenin’s consultation without thinking about it, as was the case with Julio Borges, because he only looked at his own navel of political interest – as he usually does – and not that of Venezuelans.
Lenin Moreno became the President of Ecuador thanks to Rafael Correa. But the same thing happened to mentor Correa as it did to his colleague Álvaro Uribe from Colombia when his protégé decided to act on his own. Moreno was elected Vice President twice in a row and as a running mate of Rafael Correa, which is why the former Ecuadorian president had the utmost confidence to give Moreno the opportunity to run for a third term, given that the Constitution prevented him from running for a third term. The intention was then to retake the presidency after the approval of an amendment for indefinite re-election by the Ecuadorian Legislative Assembly.
But Lenin had his own plans. When he took office as president of Ecuador, he closed the future door to his political mentor, taking advantage of the citizen rejection of the amendment approved during Correa’s term in December 2015, taking the constitutional amendment to a Popular Consultation for the people to decide. “But a deer loses more than a man who throws it away” is a popular saying. If Moreno lost the consultation, the situation would remain the same even if his presidency was a failure, but if he won, he won everything. It was a bold move by the Ecuadorian people (see The dispute between Lenín Moreno and Rafael Correa in Spanish at http://www.dw.com/es/la-disputa-entre-len%C3%ADn-moreno-y-rafael-correa/g-41216751).
Does Lenín Moreno really agree with the postulates and the continuation of Ecuador’s Socialism of the 21st Century, and what they call the “Citizen’s Revolution” there? Rafael Correa thought so, but now I suppose he must be in great doubt. Moreno’s political demarcation has changed foreign perceptions of what will happen politically there, improving Ecuador’s country risk. The situation is evolving in favour of Moreno despite the dispute with Correa, allowing the President to shift towards investment-oriented public policies and improved economic growth (see The Economy After the Consultation, in Spanish at http://www.elcomercio.com/opinion/economia-despues-consulta-politica.html). This confirms what we have known in Venezuela for a long time, that this invention of 21st Century Socialism with whatever name they call it is a failure, and that is what Moreno has realized from afar.
Now, after knowing the context, why do you think Lenín Moreno comes up with this proposal? To give an impetus to Correa’s supporters from Venezuela? I doubt it very much. The real message of Moreno’s proposal is that the Venezuelan people should decide their future as the Ecuadorian did! And this is what we have always repeated in ANCO until we were tired of it, first with the collection of signatures for the convocation of the Original Constituent until our most recent proposal for a Popular Consultation that will lead us to exactly that result.
But President Lenín Moreno regrettably made the wrong point in his statement: “The Ecuadorian Government is convinced that the legitimacy of elections can only be determined by citizenship. That is why we propose a Popular Consultation in Venezuela, in which it is decided whether the results of May 20 should be endorsed, or whether elections should be called soon. This consultation should provide guarantees of transparency and participation to all Venezuelans, without any exclusion, and should be carried out with complete openness to the observation of all political parties, organized civil society and international organizations such as the OAS” (see La Voz de América, Ecuador proposes a Popular Consultation in Venezuela, in Spanish at https://www.voanoticias.com/a/ecuador-propone-consulta-popular-en-venezuela-lenin-moreno/4428494.html).
That is a serious proposal but unfortunately it is based on the wrong premise. The May 20th elections were born illegitimate. They were convened by an illegitimately elected body, such as the Constituent Assembly of the Maduro regime. This illegitimacy of origin was ratified not only by the recent OAS resolution of June 5, 2018, but also by the people of Venezuela themselves, who did not participate in a fraudulent electoral process. But Moreno is right: “the legitimacy of elections can only be determined by citizenship”.
Moreno knows from his own experience that it is possible to defeat the pretensions of continuity of a mistaken form of government through a single mechanism: the convocation of the people in the Popular Consultation, and he is proposing this route to us without knowing that here we have already proposed it, but that we have not been able to put it in the head of the political leadership. However, his proposal has a very important characteristic: he put in the international debate a formula that was used to stop the Chavez of Ecuador’s continuist pretensions.
Unfortunately, those who have not yet understood it jump and condemn the proposal without seeing the substance of what is actually being proposed. On July 16, 2017, the people were consulted and rejected and ignored the Constituent Assembly convened on May 1 of that year by Nicolás Maduro, and approved the renewal of the Public Powers. The mandate remains in force, even if it has not been fulfilled but that does not invalidate a new consultation with the sovereign to define the future of Venezuelans.
Now we must consult, not whether or not we should endorse the results of a past fraudulent election, but the continuity of an entire regime as Moreno himself did in Ecuador. This means the dismantling of the Constituent Assembly of Maduro and a true convocation to the Original Constituent Assembly to refound the Republic. And we, the citizens, will do this, counting ourselves without the CNE the decision of the people, with all the international guarantees that Moreno himself points out.
Why the intemperate shouting and the refusal of some politicians to ask the people about their future? Lenín Moreno asked the Ecuadorians what they wanted for their future and they decided, heading off Correa’s continuist pretensions, and are in the process of getting rid of 21st Century Socialism. I don’t see why the formula can’t work the same way for Venezuela. What we must do is explain to Ecuador and the rest of the OAS countries that threaten the Maduro regime that if they do not consult the people about the continuity of their de facto regime, their future will be very brief within the concert of the democratic nations of the continent, and that it will have to be replaced by another one legitimately designated. That’s the right thing to do. The rest are just kicking and screaming from those who call themselves democrats but fear the will of the people.
Caracas, June 9, 2018