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A Day Long Vigil in Venezuela

By Daniel Duquenal

Tuesday 20, April 2004 - We have spent all day waiting for the final rules on how we would eventually go to the repair election process. Unfortunately at this late time not only we have not gotten anything but the winds that are blowing are not very good. The division of the country seems to be reaching its natural consequences.

Simple logic demonstrates that if the opposition indeed did not gather the necessary signatures late November 2002, the referendum would be history long ago. After all, it has been almost 5 months. If the signatures are not there, then the count would have been published long ago and we would be talking of something else now. Or the vaunted "megafraud" would have been exposed and the perpetrators should be in jail by now. That the chavismo controlled Electoral Board, CNE, is still discussing who knows what establishes without the shadow of a doubt that it is trying desperately to find a way to cheat the people out of its rights. The signatures are in but the CNE has been unable to mount a convincing explanation to annul them.

Chavismo, knowing full well that the only way to stop the recall election is by effectuating a legal coup, is announcing its colors.

A few days ago Chavez declared shamelessly that he would not be taken out of office, with an election or without one. He hinted that the Army is ready to support the revolution.

The president attorney, a public servant incidentally as my taxes pay for his/her job, went ahead today and supported all the dubious legal proceedings going on in the High Court. Namely that the Constitutional Court is above of the Full Court, not to mention the Electoral Court. That of course means that the Constitutional Court is going to block the reunions of the Full Court, and will refuse to recognize its rulings if necessary.

Word is out that the Constitutional Court is about to emit a ruling canceling once again the ruling of the Electoral Court and basically announcing its supremacy above the other courts.

Meanwhile the thinly controlled National Assembly has retaken the debate on the reform of the High Court law and is forcing 48 hours sessions to painfully force votes on one article after the other, letting any other matter at hand languish. The objective of the chavista majority is of course to bloat the number of justices to 32 from the present 20 and thus pack every single court of the High Court to obtain predictable rulings. The projected law has of course being challenged as unconstitutional but since the Constitutional Court is about to complete its take over, who cares?

This has acquired even more urgency as the argument of the Constitutional Court is that the signature drive is not an electoral matter but a constitutional matter. Consequently the Constitutional Court would have to rule itself out of any electoral contention for the coming regional elections. As the CNE is surely planning some large scale fraud then, it is crucial that chavismo acquires a majority in the Electoral Court. After all, if the Recall Election is cancelled, then the regional elections could become a referendum of their own.

The strategy of the opposition has been only too successful. Chavismo is now cornered and is pushed to break the law, its only way out.

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