The current situation of institutional instability that the Venezuelan society is experiencing, are a consequence of actions lacking political rationality by radical sectors of the opposition adverse to the Administration of President Nicolás Maduro Moros.
With the arrival of president Hugo Chávez, an internal process of delegitimization and smear began with recurring attacks against a legally constituted government through aggressions that were supported by powerful foreign actors, actions which have been committed by the same opposition players today who wish to displace the current government.
A ruthless economic attack targeting the stability of the Venezuelan currency has been added to this contumacious behaviour of the Venezuelan opposition, causing a crisis in the national economy without historical precedent that has been aggravated by the fall of hydrocarbons’ international prices, affecting government efforts to ensure the supply of medicines and basic food products, especially to the most vulnerable sectors of the population.
In this regard, it is worth remembering that on December 6, 2015, parliamentary elections were held, in which the Venezuelan opposition obtained most of the votes, a triumph recognized by the Bolivarian Government. However, the results in three constituencies were questioned as being the product of fraudulent electoral practices, and the affected political actors filed a complaint with the Supreme Court of Justice, which ordered the removal of the three deputies of the State of Amazonas in question.
On January 6, 2016, the National Assembly swore in the deputies who had been ordered to be removed by the Supreme Court of Justice, in open noncompliance with its decision. That same day, the then president of the National Assembly declared that the objective was to remove President Nicolás Maduro from his position in a period not exceeding six months from that time, in total violation of what is established in our National Constitution. From that moment, the National Assembly began to ignore the decisions of the Judiciary, as well as the constitutional mandate assigned to the Executive Branch. In a year that the opposition has controlled the National Assembly, it has not made any contribution towards seeking solutions to the country’s challenges.
Due to this controversy between the National Assembly and the President of the Republic, which threatened to halt the public administration, the Supreme Court of Justice in response to an appeal for annulment and one for interpretation filed against the actions of the highest body of the Legislative Branch, issued two decisions on March 27 and 29, 2017 (decision number 155 and 156), having as a main objective to preserve the rule of law in the face of the contumacious conduct of the National Assembly.
In order to overcome these institutional discrepancies, President Nicolás Maduro activated Article 323 of the Constitution, which provides for the meeting of the Defense Council of the Nation, as the highest consultation body for advice of the Government in Venezuela, with the objective of finding a solution to the differences of interpretation between the Moral Power and the Supreme Court of Justice, two of the five powers established in our constitutional text. This guarantees the necessary collaboration within the classic separation of powers.
It is worth mentioning that it was also agreed to insist on the dialogue efforts and to urge the Venezuelan opposition to join the national dialogue promoted by the Head of State without delay, a process that has been endorsed by the Vatican. It is also worth noting that the President of the National Assembly was invited to participate in this session of the Defense Council of the Nation; however, he did not attend. Likewise, it was agreed to repudiate any intervention that would undermine independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and self-determination, since, according to the principle of self-determination of peoples, the affairs of Venezuelans must be resolved exclusively by Venezuelans, without interference or intervention and with strict respect for the internal jurisdiction of the Venezuelan State.
The decision of the National Defense Council and the statement of the Supreme Court reiterate the existence of a vigorous democracy with full liberties in Venezuela, where the separation of powers exists, where differences of opinion exist, and are accepted as part of the diversity of a plural society, and processed according to the proper mechanisms of protection of our Constitution. Our country is so democratic that every day there are expressions in different media outlets against the governmental administration, in exercise of freedom of speech, manifested without the required authorization, exhibiting an alleged civil disobedience, a situation that is not allowed in other countries.
Regretfully, in 2017, the same sectors of the Venezuelan opposition have maintained their agenda of street demonstrations, many of which have resulted in violent acts with fatalities, injuries and material damages. These situations have been augmented by actions from external players — such as the OAS and its Secretary General — resulting in Venezuela’s withdrawal from this international body.
Given the situation of violence generated by the opposition and the need to guarantee peace in the country, on May 1, 2017, the President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro Moros, in a sovereign manner and in conformity with the National Constitution, convened the National Power to activate a National Constituent Assembly, in accordance with the powers conferred by the National Constitution in Articles 347, 348 and 349. It is a sovereign action, adjusted to the full exercise of a participatory and protagonist democracy that has been established in Venezuela since 1999, and for which we demand respect from all the nations of the international community as it develops.
The continuous incidents of violence as evidenced by the attacks carried out against institutions of the Venezuelan State, such as the episode that took place on June 27, 2017, are part of a coup-mongering escalation against the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and its institutions. For the Bolivarian Government, these are attacks of a terrorist nature, within the framework of an insurrectional offensive put forward by extremist factors within the Venezuelan right-wing, supported by foreign centres of power.
These attacks will not hinder the popular constituent process, nor will they impede the people’s exercise of their right to vote on July 30, 2017, in order to elect the members of the National Constituent Assembly, called by the Constitutional President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro Moros. Said Constituent Assembly will draft a new constitution adapted to current times and challenges, as a text that will be subject to the approval of Venezuela’s electoral population.
U.S. Senator Threatens “Severe Sanctions” If Constituent Assembly Proceeds
United States Senator Marco Rubio threatened the Venezuela government with “severe sanctions” if the National Constituent Assembly is held, eliciting a response from Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro declaring that Venezuela will not be intimidated, TeleSur reported on July 12. The report continues:
Rubio issued a list of three stringent demands to Venezuela on his Twitter account.
“1. Release and grand amnesty to all political prisoners. 2. Cancel ‘constituent assembly.’ 3. Schedule and hold international supervised elections,” the Senator said.
“Reconciliation possible in Venezuela if Maduro follows this path. But expect severe U.S. sanctions if ‘constituent assembly’ happens,” he said.
President Maduro tweeted shortly after that “Venezuela is a free, sovereign country and does not allow itself to be threatened by any global empire.”
“No government can come to tell us what can be done… Venezuela will overcome with the Constituent Assembly process, and imperialism will swallow its words,” he said.
The Constituent Assembly aims to arrive at a peaceful solution to Venezuela’s current political crisis through dialogue. The final vote is scheduled for July 30, when nearly 20 million Venezuelans will vote for 6,120 candidates representing diverse sectors and regions.
Many opposition groups have refused to participate in the constituent processes and dialogue to jointly solve the problems facing the country.
President Maduro has said previously that Presidential elections will be held in 2018 as already scheduled and constitutionally required.
Senator Rubio has pressured for increased intervention in Venezuela previously, most recently at a Permanent Council of the Organization of American States on March 28, when he threatened various member organizations with diplomatic action if they voted in favour of non-interference and respect of Venezuela’s sovereignty.
Rubio is also a prominent voice in favour of a harder stance against Cuba within the United States, advocating for a continuation of the blockade in spite of widespread popular opinion to the contrary.
U.S. Schemes to Gain Mandate for Organization of American States’ Intervention Fail Again
at Mexico Summit
At the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) held in Cancun, Mexico, June 19-21, the U.S. and its allies, including Canada, once again failed to pass a declaration that would give them a mandate to intervene against the government of Venezuela. As a result of their failure to pressure, bribe and blackmail enough OAS member states to submit, and following previous failed attempts, the Assembly fizzled.
An earlier consultation of OAS Foreign Ministers on May 31 was suspended with no vote taken or consensus reached after all 14 members of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and countries in Central and South America belonging to the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) upheld the principle of non-interference in the affairs of other member states and refused to go along with the hostile, interventionist declaration on Venezuela that the U.S., Canada, Mexico and others put forward.
The consultation reconvened on the eve of the General Assembly. This time the U.S. and its group were convinced they had the cat in the bag with a new draft declaration arrived at through “negotiations” with CARICOM. The U.S. entered the meeting confident it would receive the two-thirds majority support (23 votes) needed to pass. However, that did not happen. A number of countries broke ranks with the U.S. and others, exposing all the back-room deals by objecting to the fact the new “consensus” document had been “negotiated” behind their backs and without their consent. When the vote was held it was three votes short of the two-thirds majority needed for it to pass with 20 countries voting in favour, five opposed and eight abstentions. Venezuela did not participate in the vote.
The next move made by the U.S. and 10 other countries was to issue a communiqué to the General Assembly lamenting the lack of a regional consensus on taking action against Venezuela and putting forward a whole shopping list of demands the Venezuelan government should be made to accept. These included cancelling the National Constituent Assembly called by President Nicolás Maduro to empower the Venezuelan people to address the country’s problems through peaceful, constitutional means. It also called for the OAS to create a “group of friends” — a “balanced group of countries” as U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan put it — “that would be interested in helping to effect a resolution of the crisis in Venezuela on behalf of the Venezuelan people.” It was reported in the Canadian media that Canada was being considered to head such a group. Venezuela rejected the OAS assigning itself any such role given its sordid history as an instrument of U.S. intervention. Instead, the government of Venezuela invited members of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) — the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Nicaragua, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Uruguay — to assist it in renewing dialogue with opposition parties. Earlier talks that the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) and the Vatican had tried to facilitate were derailed after elements of the reactionary forces in Venezuela sought to destabilize the entire country through violent protests and acts of terror.
The dilemma faced by the U.S., Canada, Mexico and others was that the door was quickly closing on their ability to get anything passed at the General Assembly that could be used as a “mandate” for open foreign intervention in Venezuela to bolster the internal forces they direct, who are pushing violence. Unlike the prominent role Canada had played up to this point calling for intervention, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland maintained an uncharacteristically low profile at both the Foreign Ministers’ meeting and the General Assembly. This is likely linked to the rumour that Canada was being tapped by the U.S. to head up the “group of friends” the interventionists hoped to impose on Venezuela but so far have been unable to.
In the end however no resolution on Venezuela made it to the floor of the General Assembly. It would have taken the backing of 24 member states to table a late resolution, something the interventionist group could not count on, as they could only muster 20 votes the day before.
OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro and Freeland were reduced to tweeting photos of themselves hob-nobbing with Venezuelan opposition figures who showed up in Cancun, somehow registered as guests, to harass the Venezuelan delegation and lobby others to intervene in their country.