From Consultation to Constituent

By Luis Manuel Aguana

It really has not been an easy subject. Not before, not now, and surely it will not be in the future. They even attributed to us the theoretical responsibility for the unconstitutional Constituent convocation of Maduro. Sancho's dogs barking ... And we keep walking.

But if from so much explaining, the only ones who listened were those of the government, who as bad students did not understand it and in passing they copied badly, if the issue had been assumed by the opposition, another rooster would have crowed to the country, especially in these last two years that have been crucial in the Venezuelan political future. If only a couple of good fingers and common sense opposition had been available, things would be different now.

But we can't cry for spilled milk or eyes taken out to pray to Saint Lucia. It is now up to us to correct the course to reach the port because the route became longer. We have, thank God, the resistance and determination to continue it, despite the clumsiness of those who are leading - until now - the official opposition. Nobody's leaving here!

To continue with the route of the constitutional collection of signatures for the initiative to convene the Sovereign (Art. 348) became contradictory as the regime had already called for a Constituent, making it even more difficult to explain why it was necessary to do so as an expression of the sovereign will of the people. What to do then?

The first thing we did was to suspend the nationwide process of collecting signatures. This was very hard because of the deployment made with great effort by many men and women who believed in our word of political change through a original constituent process in many regions, explaining to them a temporary withdrawal until we reworked a strategy that was a response to this new zarpazo of the regime. What was the first step? Attempt to stop, peacefully and constitutionally, the so-called irritant and unconstitutional call for a Constituent Assembly on May 1,2017 and its elections on July 30. How to do it? Calling for a People's Consultative Referendum on matters of national importance to consult the people if they wanted that Constituent.

I have explained in this blog many times the steps and formal communications we made from the National Constituent Alliance for the AN to call that Referendum (see Message from the ANC to the Nation, The People must be consulted already!, in Spanish at http://ancoficial.blogspot.com/2017/05/mensaje-de-la-alianza-nacional.html), which were finally translated into the Popular Consultation on July 16, 2017, despite all the resistance and rejection that the political sector did because that was not among their plans. And there are still people and groups that still have the indecent scruples to publicly attribute themselves that fundamental step, which was documented, devised and initiated by the National Constituent Alliance and crystallized by all Venezuelan civil society, seeking in a petty manner political revenues and favors, such as those who seek indulgences with an alien scapular. That is also part of the path traveled in which Sancho's dogs howl.

But what we never thought was that the political elites ignored the people's mandate of 16J-2017. That betrayal was too much. That gave us the measure of how far our tragedy can go. Although the people's mandate has been ignored at that time, this does not mean that it is not pending and is not yet an obligation of the National Assembly.

In any case, this milestone politically defined a constitutional, peaceful and electoral route of the Venezuelan crisis. The entire international community supported the response and the gigantic democratic stature of the Venezuelan people on 16J-2017, despite the awkwardness and underdevelopment of their political leadership. That stumbling block of a leadership that is not equal to the level of its people must necessarily be overcome, even if the solution to the country's serious problem has to be achieved in spite of that.

And one lesson that undoubtedly left us on 16J-2017 is that the solution lies in asking the Venezuelan people. Without a political leadership in the opposition at the level necessary to confront the crisis and a regime acting outside the Constitution, buying the opposition's wills - and not necessarily with money - it is imperative to seek a way out and a channel for the force that only resides in the sovereign people.

In my last note in 2017, I explained that the Popular Consultation of 16J-2017 could only take place with the consent of the regime because it had already been betrayed by the opposition before it took place (see 2018 Facts and Effects, at http://ticsddhh.blogspot.com/p/2018-facts-and-effects.html). It would be unthinkable to have an opportunity for another 16J-like consultation unless the government is forced to do so. In a later note we will analyze the ways to achieve that, but for now some more urgent questions arise: Why another consultation? Did not the people already decide what was to be decided on 16J-2017?

They did indeed. But we did not have a betrayal that would lead to continual dialogue and most importantly: THE REGIME MADE ITS CONSTITUENT by ignoring the popular decision expressed in Question No. 1 of the Popular Consultation. That put the problem in a different perspective. There is already an illegal but active Constituent Power.

That irritating and unconstitutional Constituent began by calling elections of governors, mayors and regional legislative bodies ABOVE THE CONSTITUTION IN FORCE, now pretending to call presidential elections WITHOUT ANY SUBSTANCE. And the official opposition is making it the legitimizing game. That is unacceptable.

They would even be capable of going to a presidential election with the regime as long as it spares their parties' lives WITHOUT BEFORE DISMANTLING the constitutional parapet of the regime KNOWING that this would be the real power in Venezuela, as it happens in Cuba with a Constituent that permanently decides. That is a barbarity that Venezuelans should not tolerate.

The Venezuelan people DEMAND then to pronounce ourselves in relation to the existence or not of a Constituent in Venezuela and THAT CAN ONLY BE CONSTITUTIONALLY DONE BY THE SOVEREIGN PEOPLE IN POPULAR CONSULTATION.
Some of us have fought for the constituent to be convened to discuss and deliberate the country we want after this nightmare. Others do not wish to do so and we respect it because they have the right not to want to change the 1999 Constitution, but THAT MUST BE ASKED to the only one who can decide, which is only the Sovereign People of Venezuela. No one else.

Here then our speech changed. Now I don't say "I want a constituent" and I start collecting signatures for that. Now my speech is: "I want the people to decide if they want a Constituen", which is something very different, and the correct way to proceed in this situation where there is already a constituent called unconstitutionally. And if the people DO WANTS it then that's where the transitional and national unity government of the Consultation of 16J-2017Question No. 3 comes from, which would be legitimate from birth because it would come out of a mandate of the people in Popular Consultation. But IF THE PEOPLE DOES NOT WANT IT then the constitutional procedure derived from the removal of the President from office on January 9,2017 in the National Assembly be followed.

Personally, I will find myself working together with my colleagues in the National Constituent Alliance throughout Venezuela to convince people to vote in that Consultation, which with the favor of God we will achieve, by the approval of a new call, this time legitimate, to a new National Constituent Assembly, with the fundamental idea that it discusses a new decentralized country, where in its fundamental text the structural defects of the 1999 Constitution are corrected, allowing the inhabitants of this country to decide their affairs in each municipality, self-sustain and live on their work and not from a castrating rent, which in the long run will turn them into citizens ...

Caracas, January 10, 2018

Twitter:@laguana