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Tillerson's dilema

By Luis Manuel Aguana

The recent statements on Venezuela by U. S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have lent themselves to the most diverse interpretations, from the most political to the most aggressive, which point to a violent way out of the Venezuelan crisis.

The truth is that the United States is in the dilemma of not being willing to let them pass again what happened to them with Cuba, but now much more serious with a country of the characteristics of ours full of strategic riches, and stay at the same time in a peaceful line that does not involve direct intervention. They are desperately looking for a political solution to support, that does not imply the continuity of these criminals. And unfortunately the official opposition is not helping them in any way to achieve that.

What would you do if you were in Tillerson's shoes, if you already had verified information about the oppositional collaborationism and the regime's corroborated intentions of continuing in power through its cheated technical-electoral mechanism? I'd bet on what there is, and that's the military. At this moment the word of the official opposition is as valid for Washington as it is for the Maduro government: absolutely nothing. What does the American government do then? Appeal to the last bastion: the Armed Forces. And I believe that this would be a serious mistake, but of which the international community and in particular the United States are not responsible but we, who from the opposition, have not known how to propose a political -with a large, democratic P- and democratic solution that they can support, beyond going out to play electoral games with the government.

According to a Reuters note, Tillerson suggested the possibility of the Venezuelan armed forces themselves taking action: “In the history of Venezuela and South American countries, the military are often agents of change when things are very bad and leaders can no longer serve the people” he said. “If this will be the case or not, I don't know” (Tillerson raises the option of Venezuelan military overthrowing Maduro, see Reuters’s note in Spanish at

But he does know. If there is no political solution, it is not necessary to have the American intelligence apparatus to know that the last bastion of order is the Armed Forces, and that at the moment of a collapse of the regime for all the reasons of unfeasibility that we know, those who end up collecting the broken pieces are the military.

Maduro's government resembles a pressure cooker that has no steam leakage and is increasingly being set on fire from the outside. Sooner or later it will explode. What the Americans - and we don't want it either - is for it to explode uncontrollably because the remedy could be worse than the disease, and the military is with the government until it's gone.

In a situation of disorder due to the fall of the regime due to the state of chaos and ungovernability, anyone can rise with power. It may be that those who come, of course military, propose a change towards democracy but may also not, as a rearrangement of current narcosols that deepen the same model but without Maduro.

To press for the exit of the regime without an adequate channeling to freedom and democracy of the forces that unleash themselves through internal and external pressure would be as wrong as to leave them to remain in power, negotiating dialogues with criminals. Then where would the solution be?

We think that the solution would be to offer a valve to channel that external pressure that is being applied to the regime that gives movement to a constitutional mechanism that allows the country to express its opinion on what to do with the problem, giving a chance to both the grassroots forces that support the government and those that support the opposition. And that is not a presidential election, no matter how constitutional they may be, but a popular plebiscite pronouncement, measured by international observation and under absolutely transparent rules with unobjectionable arbitrators. This is because no election would be a solution with an unconstitutional constituent in office and electoral power at the orders of the regime.

I indicated in my last note (An alternative agenda for Venezuela, at  that any election would first have to involve dismantling Maduro's constitutional parapet as part of a constitutional restoration procedure. That procedure would then have as its first step to consult with the people about this dismantlement that would generate the necessary conditions to resume the institutional life of the country in order to recover the electoral process. In the National Constituent Alliance we believe that what is required now is not elections but a consultation of the people for institutional rescue. Ask him whether or not he wants a Constituent Assembly, to restore the right that Maduro violated by calling it without having that constitutional prerogative. Then authorize the designation of a Transitional Government and National Unity, but from the hand of the people in Popular Consultation.

We believe that national and international pressure should be directed towards achieving this from the government, not simply to press for "Maduro vete ya" and for a civilian-military junta to appear out of nowhere. That's only good for those in the game who are better positioned to position themselves where and when the piñata falls to the ground. With a Popular Consultation conducted openly and with all guarantees in place, the regime has the chance to walk out the front door, negotiating orderly negotiations for its exit, and to leave when a people legitimately represented in a National Constituent Assembly decides on a transition from its bosom. Not only would the opposition forces be there, but also those that legitimately represent the government. It would be a controlled fall where we guarantee what comes next.

That is the kind of solution that the Tillerson State Department and the International Community should be aware of so that the regime is pressured from the outside to achieve such a solution. That's the kind of thing that U. S. officials are unaware of because Venezuelans no longer have valid interlocutors outside of the country, so it only remains for the characters of Rex Tillerson's importance, the forced dilemma of calling on the military to "solve this" as a final alternative, because "the leaders can no longer serve the people," as he pointed out. But we cannot be satisfied with any solution because this people have already suffered too much from the mistakes of those who lead us.

On the occasion of the fifteenth anniversary of April 11,2002, I wrote last year a note dedicated to the fallen of that day. (see “Vox Populi, vox Dei” in Spanish, with the promise of continuing to fight for justice and help them recover the freedom for which they died. Let us hope that the memory of them and of hundreds more who have died since 2002 will allow these ideas to reach those who must arrive so that they can also be evaluated for the benefit of a true peaceful and constitutional solution, despite the multiple interests of those who are fighting for power - thence and here - but without thinking about the lives that have cost that and those that can still cost. May the Voice of the People be the Voice of God...

Caracas, February 5, 2018


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