Plebiscite YES, Dialogue NO

By Luis Manuel Aguana

The communiqué published by the Alianza Nacional Constituyente Originaria (ANCO) (see in Spanish Comunicado ANCO: Que el Soberano decida el futuro de Venezuela: PLEBISCITO SI, DIALOGO NO  puts officially in the national and international public debate the proposal of a new route to discuss to solve the Venezuelan crisis, before the "nothing" offered to the country by the official opposition, that has put it to negotiate -deliberately or not- elections with the illegitimate regime of Nicolás Maduro Moros.

We Venezuelans witnessed in amazement that the solution finally given by the official opposition to the so-called "cessation of usurpation" was to negotiate elections in Norway with Maduro and his gang of criminals. This has been unacceptable for those of us who consider it invalid to recognize Maduro's illegitimate exercise of power with a democratic instrument, so that he must first abandon the power he illegally holds before proceeding with any new state, thus inevitably blocking the game. But how can this be resolved?

We are in a situation of irreconcilable positions with the opposite, which the countries of the international community are trying to resolve by mediating in the application of an electoral instrument valid only in democracy, and by giving political belligerence to a shortcut of criminals who have seized power. This is intolerable for the vast majority of Venezuelans, but not for the political leadership that has represented us so far on the international stage. This course of political action is not accepted by Venezuelans.

In a last note, I advanced the answer of how it was possible to unlock the "mortal embrace" in which Venezuela found itself with this situation (see A plebiscite, the solution to Venezuela's deadlock, in which is nothing more than placing oneself on the objective plane of the problem. In our opinion, the course of action of Venezuelans, lacking the local means to displace the criminals in power, should be to request those means from the international community. However, there is no consensus of the countries to apply a solution of force, trying to impose a negotiated solution with the regime. On the other hand, the official opposition insists on a supposed "breakdown of the Armed Forces" whose wait has cost us more lives and suffering than the same application of the solution of force from the outside that we have requested.

In order to reconcile both positions, we propose a just means: a solution that, although electoral, does not imply the acceptance of the regime through elections, but rather the objective recognition, for any government in the world, of the legitimacy of the Popular Sovereignty of Venezuelans to decide on the exercise of power by those who hold it. Maduro and those who hold him in power cannot ignore that the only objective force that is recognized outside to hold them in power is the legitimate will of the Venezuelan people, and only their will can displace them. That's true for any government in the world, and that's why they want the problem to be solved with elections.

In this sense, Maduro's regime could not refuse, in the face of the world, to go through popular scrutiny by means of a Plebiscite that decides on its continuity in power. Refusing to do so would by definition imply general approval for his eviction by force. And on the other hand, the International Community could not hide to guarantee the Venezuelans' clamor to make the verdict of that Sovereignty be fulfilled with the necessary force. That is the backbone of the plebiscitary approach. The rest are the guarantees of the parties. Let us see:

Guarantees of the regime: nobody in the regime would agree to go to a plebiscite -which they would no doubt lose- without knowing before what they would gain from it. There is a host of conditions that we are sure would be requested by those who have committed crimes of crimes against humanity, proven robbery to the nation, corruption, legitimization of capital, drug trafficking, etc., and who at this moment are wielding power. These criminals will want to know what they would be given in exchange for abandoning power if they lose the Plebiscite. The United States has ample experience in such negotiations with criminals. They know that they can be granted or not given the sanctions that have already been applied. The most recent case is that of General Hugo "Pollo" Carvajal. This round of negotiations would have to take place under the credible threat that the Plebiscite is the last alternative that the International Community would propose together with the problem of Venezuela, prior to the aggravation of the sanctions, and even the possibility of an intervention in case of not accepting it.

But the criminal aspect would only be part of the problem, there is also the political dimension. We are sure that criminals would also ask for guarantees about the political survival of their movement or the "legacy" of their revolution. A plebiscite proposed in the most objective and democratic terms should guarantee the party of the regime a percentage participation equivalent to the votes they obtain in that plebiscite electoral contest. No one, not even the European Socialists who so desire elections in Venezuela, could refuse a Plebiscite that would guarantee that.

Opposition guarantees: we could not count on Venezuelan opponents attending a Plebiscite with an electoral system in the hands of the regime. And on the other hand, the regime would refuse to be counted if it is not with its CNE. An intermediate proposal would be to deliver to an impartial third party, for example the OAS and the European Union, the electoral administration of the votes through a 100% manual counting system, with automated totalization support. That is, ballots that are counted one by one at each polling station, nationally and internationally, and these when closing with witnesses from both parties, send the table totals to a Totalization Room supervised by all. The accounting will only be for how many YES or NO there are, so a Plebiscite such as this should be organized and dispatched very briefly with the appropriate international technical assistance.

Another guarantee for the Venezuelan opposition would be the dismantling of the regime's Constituent Assembly prior to the Plebiscite. We could not accept that after the process has been completed and a new political situation has been decided for the country, the regime changes it on account of the "supra-constitutional powers" of this unconstitutional entity. But the most important thing for the opposition would be the guarantee of compliance with the result of the Plebiscite. No one would go to vote if the regime later does not know the results. In this section, the International Community must have a determining presence to establish the actions to be carried out so that the will of the Venezuelan people is fulfilled. There, all the countries will have to agree unanimously that it is only Popular Sovereignty that must decide the future of the country and help us carry out its mandate, without excluding the use of force.

A decisive point for such a solution to be possible is its acceptance by the official opposition and, of course, by the regime. Paradoxically, the answer to this is not to be found in Venezuela. Even though some Venezuelans may consider it with sympathy, we see with skepticism that the official opposition buys it for multiple reasons, among them the marked political interests of the MUD/G4 that have not allowed until now to have a united opposition to concert the exit from the regime. Hence the statements of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. This is the kind of solutions that are imposed from the outside on the parties when no one agrees and the deterioration of the living conditions of the citizens accelerates.

In order for an agenda such as this to be imposed, the international community must be convinced that this peaceful, constitutional and electoral solution is of far greater strength and quality, with results in long-term stability, than the one being proposed by the regime and its opposition by bringing forward parliamentary and possibly presidential elections. A plebiscite immediately restores the legitimacy of the institutions with a guarantee of constitutional continuity. A plebiscite that guarantees the constitutional end of Maduro's regime, with a previous negotiation of the terms of exit, would give legitimate continuity to the interim presidency of Juan Guaidó Márquez to form a government and call free elections in due course.

It is possible that many doubts and questions arise about this approach to the country, even that it is also a negotiation, when we have said countless times that we do not want to negotiate with the regime. And that would be true. But the alternative is to force them out, and that is what those who can help us do not want to do. And believe me, that's what I've recommended from the beginning. This alternative represents recognizing that it is necessary to determine with these criminals the terms for them to abandon their kidnapping of Venezuela. This is what the authorities do before proceeding to enter when a hostage situation arises, which is what we now have in the country.

On the other hand we are sure that there will be many different opinions about how guarantees should be established. Without knowing them, they are all valid. Above we only mention a few obvious ones, but those who are appointed to negotiate must be left with the necessary margin to move with the details so that this can work. The most important thing is that we move toward a solution that puts all Venezuelans to decide their future, and that our destiny is not determined in a dialogue behind the nation's back, so that the solution can be lasting and stable.

Caracas, June 9, 2019


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