Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Venezuela: Coup d’état made in Cuba

   Dr. Carlos E. Ponce

Almost a month after his last public appearance and from his surgery, to continue the treatment against an aggressive cancer, Hugo Chavez remains in intensive care in Cuba with multiple respiratory, abdominal and infectious complications.

Chavez never delegated power to his Vice President Nicolas Maduro, he only obtained a temporary permit to travel to Cuba, but he was supposedly remained in total control of the presidency. Since then he was allegedly delegating some duties to Mr. Maduro and electronically signing decrees and documents. But nobody knows the true about such delegations or if Chavez is actually awake or if he has been in coma all this time. The information provided by the regime has been more than contradictory. The only source of information has been the social media. If Chavez has been in coma all this time we have been in the presence of people that usurped power and they have been ruling in an illegal government.

Mr. Hugo Chavez was aware of the potential complications from this new surgery and he clearly said that in any case that he became unable to take the oath on January 10th 2013 or in the case of his death, the chosen one to run for president is Nicolas Maduro. And the Constitution in Venezuela is clear, the mandate begun on January 10th 2007 and ends January 10th 2013, and in any case that the elected president can’t take the oath (swearing-in) that day, the Parliament’s President assumes the temporary presidency of the country and call for a new election in a maximum of 30 days.

Of course that for Cuba, losing more than US $ 10 Billion per year plus other benefits, it is not acceptable. Fidel and Raul Castro have been the closer friends and supporters of Chavez regime just for economic reasons. Thanks to Mr. Hugo Chavez and his fake revolution, the Cuban dictatorial regime has been surviving all this past decade. For the Castro’s regime the future of Chavez will also mark Cuba’s future.

Fidel Castro has been personally taking care of Mr. Chavez since the Cuban’s doctors detected the tumor, and sadly for Mr. Fidel the Cuban’s doctors and treatment have been responsible of the current tragedy of Mr. Chavez. Unnecessary/wrong treatments, wrong surgeries and lack of adequate post-operatory care complicated Mr. Chavez health.

 Now Cuba’s autocrats found the solution, the Castro brothers became the conciliators and advisors of the two most powerful followers from Mr. Chavez as well as some fractions from the military. Mr. Castro has been coordinating the meetings among Mr. Diosdado Cabello, the president of Venezuelan Parliament, Mr. Nicolas Maduro, Chavez’s family and some sectors of the arm forces. They also initiate an international lobby with Brazil and other countries to have international support for their plans for Venezuela. They developed the thesis of the “continuation” of the government. For them the re-election of Mr. Chavez last October 2012 was just a confirmation or referendum of his regime, and he doesn't need to begin a new presidential term or take the presidential oath/inauguration. With that in mind their plan is to use the Supreme Court (Tribunal Supremo de Justicia) to interpret the Constitution and provide “constitutional” base to this fiction to retain power.

Venezuela was far from been a democratic country, Mr. Hugo Chavez has been ruling the country in an authoritarian and abusive way, and the only quasi democratic was that the country holds periodical elections. Without that electoral part the country just became a dictatorship. Neither Maduro nor Cabello were elected. Chavez transformed Venezuela in his big circus but now the clowns took control of the circus. We don't know if they are keeping Chavez artificially alive just to keep control of the country, only an independent medical board can determine the current condition of Mr. Chavez.

The alternatives for Chavez’s cronies are five: 1) Accept the impossibility for Chavez to return to power and call for an election in 30 days, in this case maybe they have a good chance to win due to the Chavez influence and memory, as well as all the drama surrounding that election; 2) Reduce the sedation to Chavez and mobilize the Supreme Tribunal from Venezuela to inaugurate the new term in Cuba, which need for Chavez to be disconnected and awake; 3) Keep control of the government by force; 4) Convince some members of the opposition of a transition regime; 5) The unconstitutional an undemocratic interpretation of the Constitution allowing them to give Mr. Chavez a special permit of 90 days, renewable, to assume the presidency and if Chavez died after that they will have time for campaigning and control the administration. They can do this with or without the Supreme Court decision, but in any case we are talking of a Coup D'etat.

Mr. Diosdado Cabello just took the initiative and called for a major concentration in Caracas, Venezuelan capital, on January 10th to “defend the revolution” and president Chavez. Mr. Maduro presented a letter from Chavez to the Assembly asking for more time to recovery from surgery, but why he presented a letter and not a video or a voice message?. Maduro wrote the letter "in the name of Chavez", what is the validity of the letter?, Why Maduro has to act "in Chavez name"?. Why they don't accept that designated medical experts travel to Cuba to evaluate the current condition of Mr. Chavez?. There is not even an official medical record of Mr. Chavez.

The sad part of the drama is the complicity of several "democratic" governments that sent representatives to Cabello's show. Uruguay's President Jose Mujica announced his visit to Venezuela as well as Evo Morales from Bolivia, Cristina Fernandez from Argentina, and others announced support like Brasil.

They need the time to consolidate power without Chavez as well as buy more time with control of the institutions and cash-flow so they can also project themselves as the continuation of Hugo Chavez revolution. They also need more time for the campaign and to create the image of a possible government without Chavez but with Chavez ideals.

For the Venezuelan opposition an election in 30 days will be a major tragedy because they don’t have a clear candidate. Even though the “Mesa de Unidad” has been playing an extraordinary role creating a coordinated effort among numerous opposition groups and political parties, the ideological differences as well as suspicions among each other it is a great challenge. The phantom of old political dinosaurs like AD and Copei, and their “leaders” and the illusion for several “wannabe” candidates complicate the environment. The wipe-out of the majority of opposition governors in last December election, the jealousy against Mr. Henrique Capriles, dislike to his party and also the fact that he lost the recent election against Chavez complicated the game. For some self-called leaders the only way to return to power will be in a major crisis. The opposition knows that they will need a good candidate to win against Chavez’s phantom and “cult” image and for that they also need time. The only response from the opposition to the charade has been some tweets and some empty declarations but not an strategic plan or strong request. The opposition controls almost 40% of the parliament but they look like useless against this abuse of power and Coup d’état. They are also playing a contradictory game trying to sell the idea of a "temporary appointment" of Mr. Cabello to the presidency so they will have some time to select a candidate among their numerous fractions. Lack of leadership, bad message and severe lack of strategic planing from the opposition helps Mr. Cabello and Mr. Maduro charade.

There is also a group in the middle, sometimes helping the opposition but taking advantage of the government corruption that loves the current status-quo. Some groups from the middle and high classes have been taking advantage of the lack of institutions and corruption inside the government and they made fortunes with Chavez's regime, some of them like the "Boliburgueses" are partners to Mr. Diosdado Cabello. Other group called the "bolichicos", younger than the "Boliburgueses" are part of the new chavista elite that unify corrupt middle/high classes with government officials. Some of these groups put also money into some opposition pockets. The bank system is also part of the charade, the huge profits from the financial sector is due to the deposits and operations with the regime as well as the advantage of a controlled currency and the difference in the currency operations.

For Chavez's voters and true followers this is just fraud, they voted for Hugo Chavez, the people never voted for Mr. Cabello or Mr. Maduro, and the worst part is that nobody voted for Raul or Fidel Castro to be the shadow government. If Chavez will be willing to return in good health they must prove that with a board of independent physicians/doctors.

For investors and for any one who signed an agreement or will do anything related with the current usurpers it is just a huge risk because the government become illegal and unconstitutional on January 10th.

The game just begun, the government guarantee the necessary support inside the Supreme Court getting rid of the more experienced Justices and all the members of the cabinet and some constitutional “experts” have been publicly explaining their interpretation of the Constitution, the reelection as a way of referendum to extend the mandate 6 more year and not a new constitutional presidential term. In the case of more "interpretations" or support from the Court they already have the Supreme Tribunal tuned-up. They also have been playing the game with the allies in Brazil, the visit from Mr. Marco Aurelio Garcia to Cuba to receive instructions from Fidel about the international strategy and the support from Brazil. Mr. Garcia is Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff foreign policy adviser, and he was also the adviser of former president Lula Da Silva. Mr. Garcia is a close friend of Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro. Recently he gave an interview supporting the thesis of the continuity of the regime and the “constitutional” option of a 90 day permit to Mr. Chavez. He has been active promoting that thesis in the Bolivarian Alliance countries, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Bolivia, as well as inside the Brazilian government. The game for Fidel/Raul, Maduro and Cabello is internal control in Venezuela, a decision from the National Assembly or the Supreme Tribunal that provides pseudo constitutional framework and international support from Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua. Cuba has been orchestrating a Coup d’état taking advantage of Maduro/Cabello ambitions of power and a naive/selfish opposition in Venezuela.

Sadly Venezuela will face a major political, economical, institutional and social crisis in the upcoming months. Several countries and groups will try to control the game, but now it is a Pandora box, everything can happen.

If the democratic opposition begin to change Cuba’s game and become more active in developing alternatives and implementing a democratic fight, as well as implementing some strategic planning, the game can change in favor of recovering democracy in Venezuela.

Chavez maybe in coma and almost dying but his phantom still around Venezuela and will have a major impact in the upcoming months. He is already an icon of the fake revolutionaries but his revolution and his legacy will be only a T-shirt with his image and some “followers” taking advantage of his image to retain power for their own pockets.

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