Sunday, January 20, 2019

Who Is President of Venezuela?

Juan Guaidó posted a video yesterday on Twitter, referring to the "usurper" and the need to come out on January 23 as a sign of support for change. What I find curious is that the opposition is referring to him as the president of the National Assembly, not of the Republic. He further discusses the need for a transition government. It's curious because the constitution does give the National Assembly president the right to become president of the country while new elections are scheduled, but it does not stipulate anything about a transition government.

The problem is that the constitution never anticipated this sort of situation where the entire government, as opposed simply to the president, is illegitimate. There is mention of the Vice President taking over if the president is out of office (for whatever reason) in the first four years of the term. But right now there is no term--the election was fraudulent. The President of the National Assembly takes over if a president is out after the election but before the inauguration. There is no mention at all of transition governments outside these parameters.

I assume, then, that the opposition figures it is in murky waters and prefers to be cautious right now in order not to scare people. If they can get momentum on January 23, then they can start pushing the idea of a transitional government led by Guaidó, which is close if not exact to the constitution, and get the military's support. Or, at least, get foreign support that might tip the military toward accepting the solution, along with an amnesty pledge.

This seems to mean, however, that the opposition is simultaneously calling Maduro an "usurper" while accepting his position as president, unless they claim there is no president at all, which I guess is possible, though unusual. Someone is conducting foreign affairs, for example, or incurring debt, and the like, and right now that is Maduro.


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