Plebiscite versus Elections

By Luis Manuel Aguana

Once the general proposal for a Plebiscite to Nicolás Maduro Moros to define his permanence in power in Venezuela has been made (see in Spanish, Comunicado ANCO: Que el Soberano decida el futuro de Venezuela, PLEBISCITO SI, DIALOGO NO, in, we have faced a shower of concerns, many of them disqualifying, about the relevance or not of an instrument such as this versus the electoral approach currently being negotiated with the regime by the official opposition of the National Assembly. And it is reasonable for people to wonder why this proposal was born as opposed to others we had already made, favoring humanitarian intervention in Venezuela through the Responsibility to Protect (R2P), and even the approval of Article 187#11 of the Constitution. And in reality, the plebiscite proposal does not exclude these scenarios. Let's see why.

In Venezuela we have reached a point of no return of irreconcilable positions with the regime and its official opposition. In fact, there are no points of convergence that make Venezuelans convince us to swallow Maduro's regime in any way possible. There has been too much death, persecution and destruction of our country for the average Venezuelan to accept anything other than the expulsion of those who have done us so much harm.

On the other hand, those who had to follow a route that meant the expulsion of tyranny first, to continue with a transitional government and free elections later, decided without consulting us that they would negotiate with the regime to "stop the usurpation". Who do they intend to make swallow such a thing? That is why the communicational machinery of the official opposition is getting ready with its known journalistic anchors to begin a campaign that will try to convince us that if we go to elections with the regime we will "raze" them. Does that speech seem familiar to you?

The electoral discourse is strongly supported by important factors of all the European socialist battery and those in Latin America who still believe that what happens in Venezuela is only a problem of political and not criminal order. If we add to this the fact that the failed attempts of the 23E and 30A have taken away an important international credibility (read the United States) from the interim government of Juan Guaidó, the latter would have no alternative but to give in to a negotiation with a regime that wants elections and an international community that sees no other way to make the waters in Venezuela return to their course.

The only problem here is how to convince an entire country that is still waiting for the promised "cessation of usurpation" and that now brews are being cooked to transform it into a "cessation of usurpation by elections.

If the country's fundamental problem is a castro-communist regime, which in 20 years has tried to subdue its population using the immense resources of the nation, ruining and destroying everything in its path, and still has not managed to subdue it completely despite the exodus and the humanitarian crisis, how could we possibly think that we can convince it that we can get rid of it by negotiating "spaces of coexistence" through electoral mechanisms that only work when democracy exists? In other words, the electoral solution is a complete contradiction when it is carried out with those who do not believe in that way except when they are the ones who count the votes using a system built to favor them. That is why some of us believe that the definitive solution is a solution of force, but that we do not have the approval of the International Community as a whole.

We are then stuck in the belief that we only have the electoral path to solve the problem. And that solution, far from solving it, aggravates it. It is like putting a patch on a large tank of gasoline that drips because it is rotten from rust and if the structural cause of the spill is not remedied, at some point and for some reason the spark will jump that will make it explode sooner rather than later. That is why we have to go and solve the structural cause of the problem, since the regime has distorted and destroyed absolutely all the institutionality of the country. That is, to resort to the source where the institutions are born, which is nothing other than Popular Sovereignty.

The International Community recognizes without any doubt that in Venezuela we have to resort to Popular Sovereignty to resolve our differences. That is why its instrument is the electoral one. However, a Plebiscite is also an electoral mechanism but it puts in the hands of the people a transcendental decision. And that is precisely our case in Venezuela, but with one difference: with elections we tolerate the existence of the regime, not with a Plebiscite. And why not? Because it is precisely a question of submitting to the consideration of Popular Sovereignty the decision about the very existence of that regime, with all that that implies. Do you realize the difference?

But how do we bring the regime to that judgment of the sovereignty of the people? It won't be easy at all. It is clear that the open mechanisms of the International Community will not be desired, knowing that the people do not want it. It is there that the pressure of all countries must begin to work. The countries that support us must be the first to be convinced of this solution. They could, for example, continue with the same, or new and worse sanctions until the regime accepts a Plebiscite.

The difference with the current state of things is that there would then be a place where to get with these pressures and sanctions: for the regime to agree to be counted in a Plebiscite. This would be done with the collaboration of civil society and without the intervention of the CNE, as this instrument does not fall within its constitutional competence (Art. 70), so that its implementation would be more agile and immediate than an election, and always with the support and supervision of international organizations (OAS and EU). Depending on the pressure exerted from outside to inside, and from within the very heart of the country, the regime will begin to ask to "negotiate" the terms of its submission to the will of the people. That is the only possible negotiation with them: that of the terms of their exit.

But how would it be done for the regime to comply with the outcome of that Plebiscite? That question goes hand in hand with the acceptance of the instrument: if the popular mandate emanating from the ballot boxes in that Plebiscite is not fulfilled, the doors remain open for a humanitarian intervention that enforces the Sovereign's decision, the International Community not having any way to avoid the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) to Venezuela according to the terms conceived in the 2005 UN General Assembly. And to achieve this in the most expeditious manner and with the collaboration of the only legitimate power in Venezuela, the National Assembly would no longer have excuses to refuse to approve the presence of foreign forces within the country to support what the people decided at the polls, through its attribution established in the Constitution in Article 187#11.

As you can see, a Plebiscite is an expeditious solution versus the opposition's covert negotiations with the regime to ensure its permanence in the power structures in Venezuela through elections. It would give continuity to the promise made to Venezuelans on the 23E to immediately end usurpation and continue on the path of the definitive conformation of a transitional government that will lead us to free elections, WITHOUT THE REGIME OR SOMEONE OF ITS STRUCTURES. And it shows that it is possible to have a next government without cohabiting with Maduro, as the official opposition has tried to sell us as obligatory. It is a solution that we propose to Venezuela and the world to abandon the limbo in which we find ourselves, which deepens and prolongs the death and despair of the Venezuelan people.

Caracas, June 19, 2019


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