Venezuela is not on the brink of a disaster, it is beyond that.
Economically destroyed, politically polarized more than at the time of Hugo Chavez’ putsch, and in between accusations of coup by the President against the opposition and by the opposition against the President. People in the streets, clashes with the Army, general strikes are becoming business as usual. And Venezuela deserves more than that, but the only one who could do something about it, President Nicolas Maduro, stubbornly refuses to save his country and (politically) himself too.
On Thursday, 22 October, the National Election Council (CNE), heavily composed of President Nicolas Maduro’s supporters, has put a halt to the procedure, initiated by the opposition, to call for a referendum to confirm or remove Maduro himself.
This decision inflamed, even more, the already hot political climate since it indirectly confirms Maduro as President at least until 2018, just one year short of the end of his mandate, in 2019.
The opposition, after accusing the CNE of being little more than a puppet in the hands of the President, gathered during Sunday at the National Assembly. The topic of the meeting was whether to initiate an impeachment procedure against Maduro, but the debate was abruptly interrupted by Maduro’s supporters, who stormed the Assembly.
But the opposition did not back down and on Tuesday, 25 October, voted compacted for impeaching the President, with only the representatives of Maduro’s party opposing the decision.
The accusation against Maduro is as simple as it is grave: coup. The opposition states that the President has infringed the Constitution and turned the Venezuelan democracy into a dictatorship.
For his part, Maduro accuses the opposition to be staging a Parliamentary coup, similar, in his opinion, to what happened to Dilma Rousseff in Brazil.
But the situation in Venezuela is much more complicated than how it was in Brazil.
First of all, the vote in the Parliament is not much more than a symbolic act. Venezuela does not have the concept of impeachment in its constitution, like many other South American countries. Hence the procedure the opposition is calling for, will not take place as such.
To add chaos to chaos, the Parliament has been delegitimated since August by the Justice Supreme Court (TSJ). Back then, five representatives from the Amazonas area, who were under investigation for electoral fraud and therefore not confirmed in their role in the Parliament, decided nonetheless to sit in the Assembly. The TSJ decided to declare the Parliament and its decision invalid.
In a nutshell, the opposition has voted for something that did not exist in an institution that does not have legitimation.
But only because Tuesday vote seems null it does not mean it is utterly vain. It sent a strong message that the opposition is not going to quit, and that something has to be done about the current political situation. But now the scenarios opening in Venezuela are as complex as they are potentially dangerous.
Dialogue has never been such a remote possibility.