So, what now? The demonstration of popular strength

By Luis Manuel Aguana
Presentation at the Pío Tamayo Cathedra of the Central University of Venezuela, 28-05-2018

Once again, my greetings and thanks to the Pío Tamayo Cathedra and to Prof. Agustín Blanco Muñoz for this new opportunity to debate Venezuela. And I like to use the term "debate Venezuela" because that is the least we do in our country, especially when the situation is becoming more and more difficult and complex, and permanent analyses such as those carried out in this Cathedra are required. Most people act reactively to what the regime does to us, and not proactively. And to act proactively you have to think first, establish what needs to be done, and effectively do it later.

The questions from the forum on today's Cathedra "What now? will we continue to wait for the invasion, the insurrection, the coup, the resignation or the next call for elections?" would have been adequately answered if someone in the official opposition - not just the one who went to the elections, but the one who did not - had taken the trouble to think about this scenario after May 20, which in my modest opinion, not said but written in black and white for several years, was perfectly predictable: the regime stole the elections again.

On October 8, 2012, the day after the election of Capriles-Chavez, I titled a note on my blog with the same question from this Chair: "What now?" (see What now?, in Spanish at http://ticsddhh.blogspot.com/2012/10/y-ahora-que.html). At the time, I was saying something that was perfectly applicable to this moment:

Anyone with some decency would give way to someone else to make the decisions from now on. The entire leadership is now on the bench. Especially the one who told us that with this system it was impossible to lose the elections. I'd like to see the technicians of the La Colina Group, especially Juan Mijares, tell us how Chavez went up the hill to the point of going over Henrique by more than a million votes. But most importantly, the electoral conditions. Are we still gonna ride in the ring with our hands tied? Will we continue to go through the successive electoral processes with an RE which cannot stand a minimum audit? Will we continue to accept that 100% of the ballot boxes are not opened? We must start to seriously consider not going into a new electoral process without conditions. And that's what happens when we take the head off all those who say that we won the elections with those terrible conditions. We have to start fighting for Authentic Elections.

The opposition leaders did not hear it, but it was the people themselves who were convinced, and they ended up not going to an unconditional electoral process. But this is not fully understood by those who believed that they were going to take the regime out in the face of a voting machine and justify it by saying that by "winning" the Maduro abstention remained, as Eduardo Fernández stated in his lamentable article entitled "They won!"that circulates on social networks.

Nowhere did Eduardo Fernandez refer to a perverted electoral system that says 9.3 million Venezuelans participated when the centers were deserted across the country, and that Maduro drew 6.2 million votes from those ghosts. A system that last year put 8.1 million votes to the participation in that equally ghostly illegitimate Constituent Assembly and later said that Andrés Velásquez had lost the elections, even though he showed the world with the documents in hand that he had won the Governorship of Bolívar. All a robbery in the government's wasteland to protect the destruction of the environment and larceny in the Mining Arc.

These are the leaders who intend to lead the opposition struggle. No wonder we haven't come out of this tragedy. However, something different happened on May 20th. The Venezuelan stopped believing - finally! The regime's electoral system, and the path of its followers of the official opposition who have led the opposition struggle so far. From now on, a new possibility of political leadership has opened up for a people eager for creative solutions to put an end to this nightmare. Finally, these followers suffered a fundamental blow when, on the first day of the 20M robbery to demand new elections, the regime silenced them by swearing in Nicolás Maduro before the illegitimate National Constituent Assembly. What will these people's speech be now? Try to keep trying to fool us? Now more than 80% of the Registrar of Voters turned their backs on them on May 20.

What will we Venezuelans have after this steamroller of the fraud of Maduro and his illegitimate Constituent after the 20M? Repeal the current constitution, dissolving the National Assembly and establishing a Cuban court constitutional regime. You don't have to be psychic to assume that's the next step. What can we do in the face of this obvious panorama that comes upon us at any moment after the illegitimate swearing in? Our response to the Venezuelans is to act on the constitutional elements necessary to prevent that change, and only the people have the floor on that.

On November 24, 2017, a group of Venezuelans belonging to the National Constituent Alliance, among whom I have the honor to participate, introduced an APPEAL FOR THE EXECUTION OF THE SENTENCE before the Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ-L, with headquarters in Washington, DC.), in our capacity as non-authorized citizens (for a further explanation, see my note of December 3, 2017, Recource and Sentence, at http://ticsddhh.blogspot.com/p/recourse-and-sentence.html), regarding the activation of Articles 333 and 350 of the Constitution, which are indicated in the third paragraph of the provisions of Ruling No. 333 and 350. 001/2017 of the TSJ-L, which issued this High Court on October 25, 2017, declaring the National Constituent Assembly of the regime null and void.

To this Chair's question of what to do from now on, the answer is Nonviolent Civil Resistance, translated into channelling all the activities of constitutional restoration, to generate a procedure to put it in front of the illegitimate processing of a constituent process to change the constitution and in which the citizens, invested with authority or not, have the obligation to collaborate in the restoration of the current constitution. In other words, the only way to enforce the ruling of the LSJT is through a procedure that allows for the enforcement of Article 333 and 350, and that is what we requested in that Recource.

Last February 26th I came to this Cathedra and said that a Popular Consultation was an alternative to face the destruction (http://ticsddhh.blogspot.com/p/a-popular-consultation-as-alternative.html). Now I believe that it is no longer an alternative, but the only thing we can do in Venezuela to get out of the regime. It is now necessary to recall the ruling of the TSJ-L: "Given that the country is plunged into a profound social and economic crisis that has affected the normal life of its citizens, the activation of the civil and peaceful resistance decreed by this High Court in accordance with articles 333 and 350 of the Constitution is appropriate, which makes it urgent to produce the changes required by Venezuela for the restoration of the validity of the Constitution and, therefore, of democracy in Venezuela, Therefore, any solution to the crisis that is sought in the political arena must be found within the mechanisms of popular participation enshrined in article 70 of the Constitution, and never behind the backs of the people, with the primary aim of provoking an immediate solution to everything that has generated the crisis that the country is going through".

Hence, the questions of this Cathedra today have only one answer: to achieve the demonstration of the popular strength of the depositary of sovereignty, translated in the people's participation in a Popular Consultation WITHOUT THE PARTICIPATION OF THE CNE, as required in our communication to the National Assembly on April 16, 2017 (see Carla to the NA at, http://ancoficial.blogspot.com/2018/04/carta-la-asamblea-nacional-16-04-2018.html), but this time with a very important difference in the first question:

1.- Do you approve of to disregard the results of the May 20, 2018 presidential election?

2.- Do you approve of allow for the immediate opening of humanitarian aid channels, in order to provide food and medical assistance to the Venezuelan people, under the supervision of the country's churches and human rights organisations, and for an immediate order to be issued for the full release and dismissal of the trials and measures against those prosecuted and politically persecuted?

3.- Do you approve of disregard and consequently consider the illegitimate National Constituent Assembly installed by the government to be dissolved and to be null and void of all its actions?

4.- Do you approve of convene a legitimate National Constituent Assembly by means of a Popular Initiative, with electoral bases that proportionally incorporate the broadest citizen representation with dignified and just guiding principles?

5.- Do you approve of authorize the National Constituent Assembly to appoint, from among its elected members, a Transitional Government Board of National Unity until the adoption of a new Constitution?

6.- Do you approve of to support the international community (OAS, UN, European Union, Vatican State, Lima Group, European Parliament, Former Presidents of IDEA) and other countries and organizations in their determination to help the Venezuelan people in their heroic struggle for the rescue of freedom and to approve their corresponding support for the actions derived from this Popular Consultation?

7.- Do you approve of demand that the members of the National Armed Force, in accordance with the Constitution and the law, give their support to the process and result of this Popular Consultation?

This consultation must be approved and pushed by all Venezuelans as it happened on July 16, 2017, because otherwise it could not be held, and it is the way it could be constituted as a formidable tool of Nonviolent, democratic, peaceful, electoral and constitutional Civil Resistance against the regime. Its result would have the telluric force of an April 11, 2002, when the people expressed themselves in a forceful way, achieving Chávez's exit; and of April 16, 2017, when the International Community gave the National Assembly the backing to change the government and did not do so.

This solution of getting the Venezuelan people to decide has been supported by the Bishops of the Catholic Church in their Pastoral Exhortation of their Ordinary Plenary Assembly on January 12, 2018, "God will comfort his people". In this message, the Bishops clearly stated that in the face of "the increasingly serious difficulties of understanding between the government and the political opposition, in the absence of a point of common support that is respected in reality, as the current Constitution should be, they demand that the people assume their vocation to be social subjects with their capacity to carry out initiatives such as, for example, that civil society carry out a consultation to indicate the direction it wishes to give to the nation as provided for in our Magna Carta (Cfr. Art. 71)". This support is reiterated in the courageous public position expressed by Bishop Ovidio Pérez Morales, and I quote, "It is therefore urgent that the sovereign regain the exercise of his power and order, in accordance with Article 71 of the Constitution, what to do in concrete terms to ensure that the country is no longer destroyed, but that it is interrupted in its path towards democratic, pluralist, united and productive coexistence. I support the proposal that an immediate and genuine consultation (referendum) with the sovereign be organised in this regard, ensuring its authenticity and respect for its results”. We have publicly expressed our support for the position of Mons. Pérez Morales (ANCO expresses its solidarity and support for Mons. Ovidio Pérez Morales..., in Spanish at http://ancoficial.blogspot.com/2018/05/anco-manifiesta-su-solidaridad-con-mons.html).

Finally, the regime could try to prevent the Consultation but it would have to be seen if the Armed Forces would be willing to attack a people who want to express themselves freely and peacefully, and even more so with the support of the Catholic Church, which has publicly supported this proposal. If we carry out this Consultation we would not have to wait for an invasion, or a violent insurrection or a coup, or a resignation, or even less the elections of a corrupt CNE, because we would be acting proactively as a united Popular Force, but not united by the political parties but by a common purpose. The sovereign people would once again decide the course of Venezuela's history.

Thank you very much....

Caracas, 28 de Mayo de 2018

Twitter:@laguana