By Luis Manuel Aguana
With the swearing-in of Juan Guaidó some interested factors are trying to entangle Venezuelans again with a red legal cloth in the same way they tried to do it by getting us into the discussion between power vacuum and usurpation. I want to begin this article by insisting on something that lawyers don’t seem to want to understand: Venezuela’s problem is political, not legal. While it is true that the legal and constitutional steps must be clear, they all function like mines in a field, which explode if you put your foot where it should not.
Why do I say this? Because apparently everyone is overlooking the fact that the main political factors that led Juan Guaidó to the Presidency of the National Assembly have been left as dead before the clear, direct and constitutional fact that Juan Guaidó is now the President in Charge of the Republic and have not yet acted accordingly, as it would be with the immediate recognition of his new status, first replacing him as President of the National Assembly and swearing him in, thus failing to comply with Article 231 of the Constitution which clearly states that he must be sworn in by the National Assembly or failing that by the Supreme Court: Art. 231 “The elected candidate shall take possession of the office of President of the Republic on January 10 of the first year of his or her constitutional term, by means of an oath before the National Assembly. If for any reason the President of the Republic cannot take office before the National Assembly, he shall do so before the Supreme Court of Justice”.
In the same way, the President who takes office must take an oath in accordance with the Oath Law in force in Venezuela since 1945: Article 3: “In accordance with article 101 of the National Constitution, the President of the Republic shall take an oath before Congress to perform his duties faithfully and loyally. If for any reason he is unable to do so before Congress, he shall do so before the Federal and Cassation Courts”. This law has not been repealed or updated, but it still obliges the President to take an oath before Parliament or the Supreme Court of Justice, as indicated in the Constitution.
And what the Constitution says is that since Guaidó replaced the “elected candidate”, his oath is mandatory according to Article 231. However, some respectable opinions of legal experts have indicated that this protocol step is unnecessary. And it may be so in other circumstances, but this is where the political is deprived of the juridical. And why? Because when Juan Guaidó ascended as President of the National Assembly to the platform of that Town Council on January 11, and descended as President in Charge of the Republic it was because he manifested in his speech his acceptance of assuming the position of President of the Republic, reason for which all the International Community, beginning with the Secretary General of the OAS, Luis Almagro, immediately recognized him as President in Charge of the Constitutional way, but the formality of the Oath would place him politically and once and for all, in the position of President in charge of the Republic. What a difference!
But the big question here is whether that’s what the political factors of the official opposition really want to do, read AD, PJ, UNT and VP, who control the National Assembly, and apparently are the masters of Juan Guaidó’s destiny.
Without swearing Guaidó is leaving with the curly made to the whole world including the International Community, waiting for the following decisions that would correspond to him immediately as acting President, as it is to designate Ministers and representation abroad. But that is not what the main parties of the official opposition and of course the regime want. That is why they have refused to recognise him as President in Charge, leaving him in a situation of extremely dangerous defencelessness that the regime will of course take advantage of.
And said and done. As I write this note I am informing myself of the arrest and subsequent release of Juan Guaidó by the SEBIN, without having been sworn in. This has implications because with that fact the Power Vacuum persists then in Venezuela. If the regime decides to detain the President in Charge indefinitely, the following mechanisms must be activated to replace the President. The National Assembly cannot leave Juan Guaidó’s situation in the air and he must be empowered with his new investiture whether he wants it or not.
Since January 11, this question floats in the air to the point that in a CNN report in Spanish the Venezuelan journalist Key Guerrero points out that the International Community is waiting for that formality to extend the corresponding protection of its embassies in the country because they still do not consider him President in Charge until that happens (see CNN in Spanish, report by Key Guerrero https://cnnespanol.cnn.com/video/venezuela-presidente-interino-guaido-nicalas-maduro-conclusione-kay-guerrero/amp/?__twitter_impression=true). Then why don’t they swear him? Let’s see.
The answer to that is in the route that Guaidó himself established in his speech of January 5 where the parties seek through the approval of a Transitional Statute to obtain the support of the Armed Forces, support that we have no reason to wait if so far has not occurred. They have not explained to us why now they would support them with this new legislature when so far they have not done so in the past three legislatures. And in my opinion the answer is quite simple: they don’t want them. They do not want to leave the original to give them the power to a copy. Nobody exchanges a copy for the original. The suffering of Venezuelans is the last priority.
In this way they try to negotiate elections with the regime, burning precious time for Venezuelans that counts in lives and suffering. The journalist Guerrero gives us the scoop that “there are members of the opposition who are meeting once again with the Venezuelan government, specifically with Vice President Delcy Rodríguez and Communication Minister Jorge Rodríguez advocating for this transition in the medium term…”. (min 2:04 of the CNN video) – What’s this all about? In the medium term there will be no Venezuela with these criminals still in power. That is the way in which this official opposition conceives this struggle and that is the answer of why they are running away the oath of Juan Guiadó that the Venezuelan people are shouting at them.
And that is also the reason why Maduro now leaves “offering new dialogue to the opposition” (see in Spanish Maduro offers a new dialogue to the opposition http://www.el-nacional.com/noticias/politica/maduro-ofrece-nuevo-dialogo-oposicion_266253). Don’t be surprised that Rodríguez Zapatero appears again at any moment in Leopoldo López’s house “reminding” the prisoner that he has a house for jail because he got it for him and he sees what he is going to do with his “boy”. And these people still believe that you can negotiate with these crooks. Enough!
If in the next session of the National Assembly Juan Guaidó is not sworn in as the Constitutional President in Charge of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, we Venezuelans will know that we are still in Power Vacuum, and we have no opposition in Parliament. What a disenchantment, but to be hanging is better to fall, but consciously.
Caracas, January 13, 2019