This post starts with a phrase that I have heard countless times when my Venezuelan friends voice their personal opinions without intending to offend anyone else.
An old friend/colleague this week said that he was trying to come up with definitions of victory and defeat in next Sunday’s National Assembly elections.
“The Chavez regime will claim victory if it retains two-thirds plus one of the seats in the new assembly,” he said, explaining that this “qualified majority” would give Chavez the majority he needs to approve organic laws, give the president special powers, appoint the attorney general and Supreme Court justices, etc.
As a result, my friend added, the political opposition can rightfully claim victory in Sunday’s elections if it manages to win one-third plus one of the seats up for grabs, thus denying Chavez the “qualified majority” he needs to continue trampling on the country’s democratic institutions and freedoms.
My response was, “So what? Who cares?”
Perhaps I’m a “Ni-Ni.”
I have no doubts that a new National Assembly controlled by the PSUV will continue to screw the people con sarna alevosia y premeditacion. But the political opposition doesn’t inspire any confidence either.
Let’s assume that the opposition does capture one-third plus one of the seats in the new assembly. Will this be enough to halt Chavez’s Bolivarian steamroller?
The Mesa Unitaria Democratica – whose acronym (somehow appropriately to this old Gringo) is MUD – mostly consists of the same tiresome, lackluster “dirigentes” who have been hanging around for years hoping to be elected.
Some of the MUD’s sad sacks remind me of the “indocumentados” that cluster outside a 7-11 at 6 a.m. at a certain Citgo station in Kendall, waiting for a passing contractor to offer them a temporary day job…digo yo.
Seriously, I know that MUD’s candidates have campaign platforms, agendas, proposals, programs.
For the past several months whenever I click on Noticias 24 the window opens on Primero Justicia’s campaign messages and proposals. I read them all but I won’t vote for anyone in a party led by Julio Borges, who reminds me too much of Rafael Caldera.
I also read all the material from Maria Corina’s campaign that I could find in print or online, after Grima Wormtongue (aka Jose Vicente Rangel) made a remark about her alleged presidential ambitions. I concluded that Grima is trying to set up a red herring for future reference.
I also looked at some of the stuff put out by other candidates. Practically all of the platforms, agendas and proposals that I have read recently sound good on paper, but I’m always left wondering how much of this stuff actually is reaching into the homes, hearts and minds of the “pueblo.”
I can’t shed the feeling that these National Assembly elections are much less about a new legislature than they are about Chavez. Perhaps that’s because Chavez has made these elections all about himself. There isn’t any real public debate or discussion between opposing candidates about issues that concern voters like jobs, security, health care, etc. Instead, the message I see with the greatest intensity out there is either you’re with Chavez or you’re against Chavez, and if you’re against Chavez you’re against the poor and against Venezuela. Go against Chavez and tomorrow holds greater misery and violence than anyone imagines.
Several of the last polls that I saw before the polling blackout went into effect indicate that this strategy was working for the PSUV/PCV’s candidates.
Why do I believe that the outcome of Sunday’s elections is irrelevant?
There are two possible outcomes: Chavez wins, oppo losses – or – Chavez loses, oppo wins.
If Chavez wins (i.e. retains at least a “qualified majority”), he continues doing whatever he wishes and has a legislative majority to rubberstamp his worst impulses. The regime hails the outcome as yet another reaffirmation of a popular mandate to continue shoving 21st Century Bolivarian socialism aka Communism up the Venezuelan people’s collective rectum.
Chavez already has announced that on 27 September the Bolivarian revolution will enter a new and more aggressive/expansive stage. Nelson Bocaranda warned this week that Chavez plans to nationalize the 15 largest companies in Venezuela immediately after the elections. Adios Polar, for starters. But more revolution Chavez-style only will make Venezuela poorer and less developed, but more unstable and violent.
If Chavez loses (i.e. the opposition wins 1/3 + 1 of the seats in play), he doesn’t have a qualified majority, which means that he can’t get Organic Laws and Special Powers approved whenever he has an impulse to scratch a revolutionary itch.
It also means that the regime’s ability to draft and approve dozens of laws without any public discussion or input could be (hypothetically, if the regime respects the law) curtailed significantly. But will the Chavez regime respect the constitution and the rule of law in Venezuela?
The National Assembly has passed a passel of communist laws over the past year that are designed expressly to give Chavez unfettered discretionary powers to ignore at will the Constitution, legislation and traditional institutions of public governance in Venezuela.
The new institutions directed from the top by the national federal council chaired by Chavez and run at the street level through the communal councils are already in place. These communal (aka communist) institutions will be used to reinforce elected traditional municipal, state and regional powers that are firmly pro-Chavez, and strangle/supplant elected powers that oppose Chavez.
This is the Ledezma model of Bolivaran governance. If Chavez loses, the winner is garroted fiscally and persecuted legally by a politicized judiciary where judges that dissent with the regime’s unlawful practices are jailed indefinitely.
This is why Sunday’s outcome is irrelevant.
Win or lose, we’re still screwed on 27 September and for a long time to come after that.