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Venezuela: CEO fired for incompetence applies for the same job a month later

By Sol Maria Castro,

If this were the headline in your morning newspaper, you would probably chuckle, pondering its absurdity and how the board of directors could allow that to happen.

Guess what? It is not Ripley’s Believe it or Not. That could well be the headline in papers nation and worldwide if President Chávez is allowed to run in the case he loses the presidential recall referendum on his mandate next August 15 as everything seems to indicate. Either due to brazenness or his usual penchant for sending public messages to other powers of the State so his wishes are satisfied with corresponding decisions, President Chávez announced yesterday in the Argentinean resort of Puerto Iguazú during the Mercosur Summit his intention of running for the same post he could be recalled from in over a month.

Imagine the employee in the headline, an employee hired as the company’s CEO for a five-year period with no references (actually, to be accurate he had some since as a security guard he had tried to bomb the headquarters of the company he now wanted to manage, and topple the elected CEO. Sounds bad already, huh? Rumors had it that his godfather or his father’s friend pardoned him without being sentenced for his crime which allowed him to run for the same position he had wanted to seize by force, but that’s another story), but with a talent for persuasion that could persuade Eskimos to buy air conditioning in December. His qualifications and record were also poor; the only thing he had ever managed was a small grocery store for the security company he worked for. Yet, 35% of the stockholders in 1998, and 29% in 2000 elected him for that important position- unfortunately, mismanagement on the part of past CEOs kept 38% and 52% of the shareholders away from the voting process altogether. During five years and six months, the CEO was determined to do what he had intended all along when he tried to topple the administration all those years ago much to the resistance of, first a few, and then, the majority. To make a long story short, we imagine the shareholders, using the same norms he had tailor-made, deciding to convene and vote to fire the most incompetent CEO the company ever had before he had a chance to complete the six-year term that began in 2000 according to the board of directors; thus, terminating the mandate of the one who, having received the most income ever, showed the worst figures ever, and as icing on the cake created a climate of confrontation, division, hatred and violence among the shareholders, the board of directors, its contractors, its commercial allies and partners, and almost any living creature around. The idea of that same CEO applying to the same company a month later to finish the two years left of his term would seem so absurd.

Yet, President Chávez, the CEO of our company, Venezuela, plans to do just that. “If I lose, I will concede and hand over the presidency; I have no problems with that because in the following month, I will be fighting for the presidency again,” said President Chávez, probably advancing a ruling from the Constitutional Chamber on the same subject after it sentenced last month President Chávez could run as a presidential candidate “the next term”, an ambiguous choice of words that prompted the plaintiffs to request an interpretation of “the next term”.

Logic, not to mention political logic, and the spirit of the Constitutional drafters would indicate that the revoked authority is precluded from running for the same position he has been revoked from; something in the case of the legislators, the Constitution drafters explicitly specified. Yet, in the case of the President it is only to be assumed and therefore, open to interpretation. Here is that explains what has been happening in the Supreme Court. The Constitutional Chamber, especially now that the justices have seen what happens to those who oppose President Chávez’s whims, opinions and wishes, will have to write another scene in the theater of the absurd to sentence that a president who is revoked by citizens, consequently terminating his mandate, can become a candidate to terminate that same mandate that was earlier revoked.

What is undeniable is that the President sent a sign of weakness and an admission of his defeat when he had to send such a message to the Justices from abroad. They may be tempted to oblige if they do not want to participate in an early retirement plan or be investigated by the so-called Moral Power as was the case of the Justices from the Electoral Chamber. The three pro-government members of the National Electoral Council may have even paved the way to such a sentence by drafting a question open to interpretation. After all, the question does not read “Do you wish to revoke President Hugo Chávez’s mandate? Instead, it reads a rather cryptic “Do you agree to nullify the popular mandate given through democratic and legitimate elections to the citizen Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías as president of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela for the current presidential term?"

During a forum on Democracy and Authoritarianism in Caracas yesterday, Pompeyo Márquez, a leftist leader who has been around for quite some time and one of the most prominent leaders in the umbrella opposition alliance, Democratic Coordinator, said “We will be the laughing stock of the world when that happens,” explaining that the powers who genuflect to Chavez will conform once again to his wishes, probably allowing him to participate in the subsequent elections.

It is not Venezuela that will be the laughing stock. After all, the employees of the hypothetical company in question would not be amused if they read the headline that opens this piece. What is a fact is that even if the board of directors were …. enough to let President Chávez apply for the same position he was fired from, the shareholders would still know extremely well why they fired him in the first place, and would not hire him back again. Ask Daniel Ortega if you do not believe me.

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