Another Consultation: a necessary explanation

By Luis Manuel Aguana

The first thing that should be done by those who want to suggest political paths is to respect the people and give all possible explanations, repeating as many times as necessary. After proposing the way of the Popular Consultation or Plebiscite to solve the serious Venezuelan crisis -with immediate change of government included- it seems that something has remained in our hands, because they still ask us the same question: why another consultation if we already made one on July 16,2017? That's why I think there is something we missed or didn't know how to explain, and that's why I'm trying again.

Indeed, on 16J the people were consulted if they rejected and disregarded the Constituent Assembly convoked by Nicolas Maduro on May 1,2017. However, later on 30J, Maduro ignored the people's mandate derived from that consultation and made the constituent election.

Many explanations emerged indicating that the 16J consultation was not binding, but the truth was that the people expressed themselves politically, and that consultation was a political fact of such a nature that the political leaders of the National Assembly could not escape.

Maduro's constituent is now a de facto fact after 30J, even if it has been fraudulently done, as the same company of voting machines, SMARTMATIC, denounced it. Assuming that at least one Venezuelan went to vote legitimately, there was a constituent election on 30J that must be dismantled by decision of the sovereign people.

On 16J, the people were not asked whether or not they wanted an Original Constituent, but whether or not they rejected and ignored Maduro's constituent, if it was not convoked by the people themselves. The structure of the question was different.

Now, the National Assembly was under an obligation to remove Maduro after 16J, not only because he was the convening Power of that referendum, but also because of the majority approval of question No. 3, even if the regime imprisoned all the deputies, because they had the popular mandate, but they didn't do it. Never before has a power in Venezuela been given such a clear, categorical and direct mandate as that given to the National Assembly on 16J.

Why is another consultation necessary now? Because the way to dismantle this unconstitutional Constituent elected at a later date than 16J is by restoring the right violated to Venezuelans on 30J -a later date- asking them: 1) If it dissolves that entity, and all the acts carried out since its constitution; 2) If it legitimately wishes to convene a constituent or not, as established by the Art. 347, with democratic and inclusive bases; and 3) to ask the sovereign if it allows that new constituent to remove the President and the rest of the Public Powers, designating a new transitional government until the general election that comes from a new constitution.

But who puts the rattle on the cat? That is, how to make the regime obey this time around that consultation? But beyond that, how can we make the consultation itself happen without the regime opposing it? These are in my opinion the most important questions people ask themselves.

Well, the answer to that is internal and external pressure. All outside pressure must be directed to that sole purpose, just as the inside must be translated into non-violent resistance in the streets. Any new external sanctions must be aimed at requiring the regime to hold such consultations, otherwise they will be increased and any protests in the country must be directed at the same purpose.

This time it would not be the National Assembly, full of political commitments, the call to enforce the sovereign's mandate, but the people themselves on the streets, summoned by civil society in compliance with articles 333 and 350 of the Constitution, with all possible international support.

All of this sounds very theoretical, but what we are really proposing is not a mere consultation in itself, but a procedure of legitimate constitutional restoration, which develops in practice the implementation of Articles 333 and 350 of the Constitution, where the Popular Consultation is only an essential part, but not the only one. Consultation would be part of a whole aimed at making the regime give way.

It would not be a disjointed consultation, but the development of an inside and outside pressure to make the regime bend in favour of this solution. Who would be the guarantors of the regime's compliance? The same ones that are prepared from the outside for humanitarian interference. In fact, at the moment the government allows the consultation is because they have agreed to discuss the terms of their exit, so this solution gives them the opportunity to negotiate - already in terms very different from those of the Dominican Republic - a peaceful transition.

Some may wonder in which country does this guy live? How do he think these criminals are going to agree to this consultation that would get them out of the government? They would be surprised how many people in the regime are waiting for an invitation to get out of this disaster without violence, if they are offered an alternative without the regime's advantage and with a negotiated opportunity for them to walk out the front door. But given that this premise is true - and many of us think it is - it would make no difference to offer it as an alternative to a pressure cooker that no one understands every day that passes because it has not exploded.

But others will also wonder why a consultation? Why not go directly to an external intervention or immediate change of government with a Civil-Military Junta included? Although I'm attracted to an immediate solution like that, I think that option puts power in anyone's hands after the pressure cooker explodes. I suppose many people will be working for that - inside and outside - as Enrique Tejera Paris once told me, this is how the change of power in Venezuela has historically worked.

And even though this route would also be perfectly constitutional since everyone, including the military, is obliged to work for the restitution of the full force of the Constitution (Art. 333) that continues to be violated by these evildoers, we would be throwing a coin in the air for the future of the country. Face: democratic results as in 1958; seal: a catastrophe worse than we have. Everything will depend on the balance of power that exists at the precise moment when the pot explodes and its open and hidden protagonists, that we will never know who they are until they appear in Miraflores.

But Venezuelans can make a difference. We don't have to repeat the same thing and expect different results, Einstein dixit. With a People's Consultation that would openly order the before and immediately after in a peaceful, democratic and constitutional manner, with an original constituent process, the next government and its composition would be decided in an open manner, and within that process, not as a result of hidden negotiations but from the hands of a constituent election. That is, it would be the elected constituents who decide the future, not an enclosed and unknown conciliabulo of change of power.

However, although we are working to develop an alternative that opens democratic channels for the country in this dark hour of our history, unfortunately in the state of desperation of Venezuelans, everything seems to indicate that they no longer care to throw the coin in the air. It'll be dawn and we'll see. I hope we're still in time to decide on the best alternative. Personally, I would prefer not to play face or seal with the future of Venezuela, what do you prefer??

Caracas, 15 February 2017

Twitter:@laguana