Saturday, April 01, 2017

A Weird Autogolpe in Venezuela

Some hours after the declaration by the Venezuelan Supreme Court, prosecutor (and Nicolás Maduro ally) Luisa Ortega said that the Supreme Court's action violated the constitution. This prompted a meeting of the Consejo de la Defensa de la Nación. That body issued a declaration read by Vice President Tarek El Aissami, framing the whole thing as a dispute between the legislative and judicial branches which, technically, it is, sort of, and for the court to review its own ruling to make sure "institutional stability" (which can be defined in any way you find convenient) was preserved.

Then it got weirder.

The core of the declaration is to call for dialogue. Who exactly will be engaging in dialogue is uncertain, given that all the government needs to do is rescind an illegal measure and actually allow the legislature to...legislate. And of course for a recall election to go forward as the constitution provides.

Then it called for dialogue for the broader crisis, not acknowledging that the only reason there's a crisis is because the government is taking illegal measures and uses dialogue as a way to endlessly delay action.

Finally, it took a gratuitous swipe at the OAS because they all hate Luis Almagro. Not really any other reason for that to be in there.

Several possibilities come to mind. They are not mutually exclusive.

1. The Venezuelan government is preparing to back off the Supreme Court decision, and will claim that doing so was a major concession, then require concession from the opposition, thus leaving things the same while pretending to move forward. This is more of the "master plan" sort of explanation and assumes a lot of guile for Maduro.

2. There are real fissures already within the government, and Maduro et al are getting nervous about how long unity will last under duress so are already cracking.

3. Maduro is not certain what the Supreme Court is doing and there is too much chaos (or distrust?) for coordination. That would make this autogolpe even weirder.


Update: LITERALLY one minute after I hit "publish" I saw this breaking story on the Supreme Court reversing its decision. Weird indeed.


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