Two consultations and a photograph

By Luis Manuel Aguana

In contrast to the old popular saying "don't make it clear because you mess around" I'm going to dare to do it because I think it's important to explain it insistently, even if it's every presentation, meeting, mail, restaurant napkin, cell phone message or in any corridor, because the Popular Consultation we're proposing has nothing to do with what happened on the 16J, even though they have the same name. And why another consultation if we already did one on July 16? people repeat to us like a mantra, even to dismiss the proposal without discussing it.

I think the best explanation can be given using a simile. What's happening in the country is like a big movie that's now moving at over 30 frames per second - very fast - and that started 20 years ago. A consultation would be a photograph that we take of that film, which freezes in a single image the political state of that moment. And what a difference between the political moments of the country to date 16J-2017, the country of today are abysmal considering the speed of development of current political events. As a result, the photographs of the two moments are very different.

Let's describe a little bit the photograph to June 2017. The people on the street, the regime cornered and under the microscope of the whole planet because they were killing boys. I was explaining last year after the 16J (see in Spanish What part of question No. 3 did not understand the MUD, in http://ticsddhh.blogspot.com/2017/07/que-parte-de-la-pregunta-no-3-no.html), in order to stop Maduro's unconstitutional call for a National Constituent Assembly, the Alianza Nacional Constituyente-ANCO proposed to the MUD a way out of this impasse through a concrete proposal: a Consultative Referendum without the CNE, conducted by civil society and based on Article 71 of the Constitution, to ask the people whether or not they wanted a Constituent Assembly convened by the government. Forced, hanged and unanswered for a population dying in the streets, they agreed to the petition.

The political moment - the photograph - at that time indicated that the response that civil society should make to this theft of our constitutional prerogative to call ourselves a Constituent Assembly was to call ourselves a Constituent Assembly, as established in the constitutional text. The National Assembly, applying the Constitution, called us together using one of the "means of participation and protagonism of the people in the exercise of their sovereignty, politically" established in Article 70 of the Constitution: the Popular Consultation. This was a politically skilful way out, since the people can perfectly well summon themselves to exercise, as they did, their participation in the great issues of the country, clearly manifesting themselves in the political arena.

However, this consultation was not on the roadmap of the MUD, nor of the parties present in the National Assembly at the time. They wanted the regime to call for elections and the consultation we proposed had the attraction for them to take people off the streets - collateral effect - and to force the regime to negotiate elections, which was what they really wanted (not to designate a National Union Government as the sovereign ordered in question No. 3 of 16J). But the move went badly because by not complying with the people, but also by not achieving the elections they were looking for in the Dominican Republic, as well as the rest of the demands, they created a state of disappointment in the population that they have not yet been able to get out of.

If the Deputies had complied with the 16J Consultation, the game would be different now, but they did not expect the popular expression of the 16J to be unexpectedly forceful. The people's political sentence was extraordinary, so much so that it motivated the unanimous support of the international community. If the National Assembly had complied, it would have been impossible for the military not to have supported this designated Government of National Union. The people would have taken to the streets en masse to support any decision the Assembly might take, just like that. These are the moments that politicians must "smell" out of a simple political nose. But their noses are stuffed with petty ambitions. That was the same moment that Henrique Capriles wasted when the CNE stole the 14A-2013 elections from us and the candidate sent us to dance salsa and play casseroles.

The window closed again and the moment was wasted. It's amazing how those photographic moments in the country have been wasted. No doubt Diosdado Cabello mocks the official opposition in all his television programs; and there is always, of course, with the small help of the sophisticated intelligence systems paid for by the State, many steps ahead of these inepts. Excuse me, but there's no other way to put it.

That was the photograph of the 16J Popular Consultation. While it is true that the mandate in question No. 3 is still in force, the political momentum is NOT, because it was not taken advantage of. The conditions must then be created again for the people to express themselves in the face of the situation in the here and now and to proceed immediately as a result of the outcome, using the political momentum of this moment.

On 16J we asked the people if they rejected and were disregarded "the Constituent proposed by Nicolás Maduro without the prior approval of the people of Venezuela". The 30J-2017 had not arrived. Well, we reject it and we do not recognize it, and therefore it is irritating by popular mandate. But beyond that, Maduro went ahead and imposed it on us on 30J-2017, and now he is making decisions that directly affect us; so it is now necessary to ignore and dismantle it in the same way: by popular mandate. It is necessary to ask this directly to the depositary of sovereignty.

But we must also ask whether or not we should be called to a true Constituent process on the initiative of the sovereign people, to restore our right violated by Maduro, when he called the Constituent without having the quality to do so. And if so, ask the people whether or not they authorize the appointment by the Constituent Citizens of a National Union Government, as they were asked in a previous political photograph.

Already with such reasoning, a second process of Popular Consultation could be justified. However, the Popular Consultation has several ways of being interpreted according to how it is intended to be applied: a) As a form of non-violent struggle; b) As a way or method of organizing civil society for that struggle; c) As a mechanism for the unification of society for a common purpose: to combat the regime.  Let's see.

a)      a) As a form of nonviolent struggle. Indeed, on the basis of Article 70 of the Constitution, we can promote all kinds of consultation, counted by the citizens, to discuss the matters that concern us as a country. No one can stop us from doing that constitutionally. Whatever the regime does to the detriment of the citizens, we can consult it according to the scope of the problem: national, state and municipal. Let us use this mechanism in an organized manner and show whether it is true or not that it is the people who are in charge, as the Galactic Commander said. There will never be more people on the streets protesting in numbers than queuing up to peacefully demonstrate their political disagreement at the polls. That was the success of the 16J! In the latter there is no risk for the elderly, people with disabilities, people who work and cannot take to the streets to protest openly, etc.... (for a more complete explanation of this see Inevitable Fall, in Spanish at http://ticsddhh.blogspot.com/2014/03/caida-inevitable.html).
b)     As a way or method of organizing civil society for this struggle. It is civil society that has suffered most from the disorganisation and lack of strategy of the political leadership. Why not organize ourselves to generate a permanent system of response to the atrocities of the regime? The organized Popular Consultation can be a permanent response of civil society at all levels to articulate a permanent method of struggle. In this respect, we could well be accompanied by the employers, trade unions, guilds, etc., who have been affected by the decisions of government crime;
c)       As a mechanism for the unification of society for a common purpose: to combat the regime. A permanent system of Popular Consultations that runs transversally to any social group would unify them in a single purpose. Employers and workers could agree on national consultations on inflation and wages. These tools are peaceful and constitute a forceful response against decisions that harm them as social groups.

But most importantly, a Popular Consultation that encompasses the broad outlines of what we perceive as the main national problems objectively gives everyone - nationally and internationally - the answer about what Venezuelans really want, not what politicians say we want. If we establish that together, the international community and the whole world will help us achieve that. We proposed these questions in our communication to the National Assembly (see our letter in Spanish at http://ancoficial.blogspot.com/2018/04/carta-la-asamblea-nacional-16-04-2018.html).

As long as what we want is not defined we will continue to stumble around without direction and even more so if the political leadership is completely headless and without a strategy for the struggle. Let us then define the consultation we need to make as a people and proceed. "There is no favorable wind for the boat that does not know where it is going," said Seneca (4 B.C. - 65 A.D.). If we already have the wind of the international community in our favor, it is time to define where we want to go. And who better than the sovereign people to answer it? Let the Venezuelan people decide!

Caracas, June 1, 2018

Twitter:@laguana