Little by Little, a new space for discussion seems to be opening, but it is still a muted, shy one, surrounded by the insults of intolerance and the eroding impact of powerful factors and interests at stake. The vast majority of the country needs and deserves to see a debate of ideas taking place, one concerning the situation, how to overcome it, and how to address the immense challenges we face for our future as a sovereign and independent nation.
Everything is urgent these days. The country does not wait any longer, it cannot wait any longer. The economic and social crisis, as well as the dysfunctional performance of the State and its institutions, has not only led the country to a dangerous weak and vulnerable situation, but it has also led the citizen to the limits of rationality, to being forced to do things that in our recent history were considered unthinkable just to survive. This grim reality continues to worsen the quality of life and the self-esteem of the Venezuelan people. Poverty, misery, and deprivation drag the population to give up their principles, their way of life, their rational behavior and their feelings towards a spiritual and material degradation that day by day gnaws the society away, potentially leading us to situations like that of the serpent’s egg.
Maduro’s ousting from power is a matter of time. The issue is how, in which way is his disastrous government going to end, that is what is being negotiated at the moment by his international allies. Guaidó and Leopoldo López’s adventure failed, and they know so very well. The international powers supporting that extreme right faction begin to realize that, once again, just like in April 2002, they were dragged into another failure. They are also running out of time, the dynamics of their own internal politics and other international fronts divert their priority, so they need to adjust their strategy.
Now, there is a new possibility, the conversations in Oslo, Norway. We have always reiterated that we support a political solution to the current crisis, better if it is through dialogue instead of war and violence. Norway’s efforts, along with those of Italy, Mexico, and Uruguay, point in the right direction, choosing political dialogue and a negotiated solution instead of war or foreign intervention. We hope the Norwegian diplomatic efforts are not used by maduro, once again, as a way to buy some time, so that nothing happens, and that these are not torpedoed by the extremist sectors of the opposition that support the military solution.
In any case, the problem is that, just like it happened in the Dominican Republic, such dialogue is between power groups that do not represent the country. It lacks legitimacy. As far as the Chavista and Bolivarian sector is concerned, neither the madurismo nor its minister of lies represents it. They act on behalf of the faction that is clinging to power. It is even more incongruous that some emblematic figures of the madurismo play war in the country while “Mambrú went to Norway”. On behalf of the opposition and its motley composition, Guaidó said his position was firm: maduro must leave and new elections must be convened; raised this way, the conversations rather seem to be the negotiations for the surrender of the madurismo.
This is a complicated process that is just beginning, but it has many enemies from both sides. I hope it prevails and it does not sink, like the efforts made by Pope Francis or those of the Dominican Republic. Either way, the talks in Oslo could contribute to both power groups, on the same side of the coin, agree not to kill each other and how not to drag the country into war. That, despite representing an advance, would be far from solving our issues.
The urgent discussion is now how the rest of the society, the majority of the people, recovers their leading role in the conduction of their own affairs, safeguarding the political and economic sovereignty and moving forward in the reconstruction of the homeland. Thence, the proposal of a Patriotic Government Junta.
I have received comments, opinions, constructive criticism, and ideas regarding such a stance, and I appreciate it, that is what it is all about. Therefore, I think some clarifications are necessary. The Patriotic Junta collides neither with the call for a Consultative or Recall Referendum nor with a transitional government; it does not even collide with the possibility of negotiations in Norway. The Junta is a transitory structure of government, while the Constitution and the full exercise of popular sovereignty through direct and secret vote are restored.
The country is in no condition whatsoever to go to elections at this time. There are more than 3,7 million Venezuelans abroad, without the possibility of exercising their right to vote; there are no institutions, no National Electoral Council, no Judiciary, no Public Prosecutor’s Office, that can guarantee the secrecy and the chance of voting. Nor there are freedoms and guarantees for the exercise of politics, the debate of ideas, and the existence of political parties. There are not even possibilities to move around, there is no transport, there is no gas, there is no electricity, there is no water, there is no food, no medicines, and no money. The country needs a “standing eight count”.
In the midst of this crisis and the generalized chaos, the social catastrophe and the economic collapse; in the midst of this unprecedented humanitarian crisis, there are no conditions either to exercise the right to vote not to have sound judgment for the debate of ideas. You cannot compel the people to vote by pointing a gun to their heads. Whoever does it would obtain a tactic victory, buy some time, have power over the spoils, but it would be missing an extraordinary opportunity to begin to rebuild the entire national political spectrum, gain governance in order to sustain the reconstruction efforts. May the disaster of Libya serve as a reminder of where the “shortcuts” and lust for power lead.
Therefore, there is the proposal for a Patriotic Junta that manages to remove maduro from power and lead the country during a transitional period of at least two years. It could be called transitional government, it could be enabled after a consultative referendum or through a civic and military action that deposes maduro. I have called it Patriotic Junta because it makes reference to the only successful experience of civic and military rebellion in our own history, with underlying elements that, despite the differences in time and conditions, are still valid. It is the Patriotic Junta of Fabricio Ojeda, no it is no other.
This Junta must include patriotic sectors. There is no room for calls to foreign interference or a military invasion, or to violate our sovereignty, or to disregard our Constitution, or even to maintain the madurismo in power. It is not the foolish unity, the foolish homeland. It is the unity of the patriotic, democratic, and popular sectors.
The military needs to be a part of it. They do not only need to be a part of it, but they also have to be the guarantors of its validity and authority. The military must have a space to settle and set a position on the side of the Constitution and the people, so as not to continue being persecuted or traipsing among the “self-proclaimed” or even in absurd propaganda marches in the dangerous dance on the edge of the bonfire of death.
The Junta must be a collegiate body, based on consensus decisions and permanent popular consultations. It must have limited authority in scope and time:
- Two years to implement a humanitarian emergency plan, organize a Consultative Referendum, legitimize institutions, and hold elections.
- • It cannot change the Constitutions or the laws enacted at the beginning of the power conflict between the Executive and the National Assembly.
- • It must act in strict accordance with the Constitution, in line with the integrity of its articles.
- • It must respect the international agreements signed by the country.
- • It cannot carry out anything internationally that could undermine our sovereignty, such as endorsing treaties or requests for interference or foreign military presence in the country.
- • It must protect the economic and territorial sovereignty of the nation.
- • It must protect the Bolivarian National Armed Forces, in its capacity as guarantor of the process and the validity of the Constitution.
The Junta must have Executive powers to make decisions regarding organizing and conducting the emergency period:
• Request assistance from the United Nations specialized agencies: health, medicine, food, refugees, in order to address the humanitarian crisis.
• Begin a registry of Venezuelans abroad, document the real situation and conditions of those who have emigrated. Present a plan of return and reinsertion into the country and the workforce. Request assistance from international organizations for this reinsertion program, a Misión Leander. The children will return to rebuild the mother country.
• Address the humanitarian crisis as a priority: food, health, assistance to displaced persons, social emergency.
• Reestablish the proper functioning of basic public services: water, electricity, cooking gas, fuels; as well as the national and international connectivity of the country: land and air transportation, communications.
• Intervene PDVSA, reestablish its operations, advance an emergency plan for its recovery, call all workers that have left, remove from the company all the State intelligence agencies, release kidnapped workers and managers, stop persecution, vindicate its workers, develop a special framework of protection for the company, its assets and activities; ensure the safety of the facilities, review and revert all illegal contracts and deals of assets and properties, stop its privatization.
• Reestablish the essential operations of the internal productive system: food and medicine as a priority.
The Junta must restore full political freedoms in the country, the Rule of Law, the Constitutional Guarantees, and the participatory and leading role of our democracy:
• Freedom for political prisoners.
• Cessation of political persecution, return of the exiles.
• Lift the censorship on media.
• Freedom for all the kidnapped workers.
• Freedom for all the kidnapped officers and members of the Bolivarian Armed Forces.
• Seize the Public Prosecutor’s Office.
• Seize the intelligence agencies and police forces connected to the political repression.
• Guarantee the due process and the Rule of Law in the country.
• Organize and promote a wide national debate, at all levels, on the steps forward toward restoring the normalcy in the country, overcoming hatred and intolerance.
• Eradicate violence and hate speech from public life and political exercise in the country.
• The entire country must work, hopefully with the support of Pope Francis, in a spiritual rebuilding: return to our fundamental values, our own idiosyncrasy, the positive aspects of the Venezuelan people: solidarity, brotherhood, respect for others, hard work, culture, justice, common good, social duty, love for the country, the Bolivarianism.
The Junta must be able to organize Consultative Referenda for the people to decide the fundamental steps for restoring the Constitution:
• Appoint a new Supreme Tribunal of Justice, a new Attorney General, a new Moral and Electoral Power, all of these with transitional character, until the next general elections are held and all the powers are legitimized as established in the Constitution.
• Elections to renew the National Assembly, based on an agreement that allows for equal representation of political blocs in its executive board.
• Termination of duties of the Constituent National Assembly, which has had no concrete results since its creation.
• Presidential elections.
• Termination of duties of the Patriotic Junta.
The urgency of the Junta
The assault against PDVSA and the oil sector is a clear example of the urgency of removing the government and installing a Patriotic Junta.
The persecution and retaliation of the madurismo against oil workers and managers have had a disastrous impact on the country: the last report of oil production issued by the OPEC places us under Colombia, very near Ecuador, with only 700 thousand barrels of oil per day. Over 2 million barrels of oil per day have been lost in only five years, only because “maduro wanted so”. Those represent 117 million dollars per day of direct losses, over 42 billion dollars a year. A crime.
On the other hand, the kilometer-long lines of citizens desperately looking for gasoline throughout the national territory are a consequence of not having oil to feed the refineries, because the little existing production is sent as payment for the “aid” given to the country, but it is also a consequence of the “razzia” in the refineries. In the refineries, the refining workers have been imprisoned or persecuted, marked as “corrupt”; brilliant professionals such as Jesús Luongo, the best process engineer in the country, the hero of the reactivation of CRP after the oil sabotage, was imprisoned in a jail for common prisoners. Cardón halted operations; Amuay only works in 10% of its capacity. There is no fuel for vehicles, food transport, neither both for the electricity sector and for industries.
The same thing happens with the cooking gas. The industry, after being “intervened” years ago by maduro following the sacudón, does not reach any Venezuelan household. They handed over the gas of the Homeland, the Mariscal Sucre got depleted, they handed it over to transnationals, just as it happened with the gas of the Gulf of Venezuela, the Perla 3X. Every day that goes by with maduro in power, he continues to act, desperately, destroying everything only to stay in power.
This discussion does not end, it cannot end. We must fully and democratically participate in the future of the country. These are times for ideas and debates; we must join all patriotic forces for this ultimate purpose, for our children, the children of our children, for the future of the Homeland. We cannot leave it in the hands of chaos and misfortunes, of the tyranny, regardless of the group, because the sovereignty resides in the people.
“Tyranny is not good for those who exercise it, nor for those who suffer it; it is neither for the children nor for the descendants of the children: on the contrary, it is an absolutely ruinous experience”
Plato Letter XVII