The news of the opposition agreement this week to extend the interim presidency of Juan Guaidó for one more year during 2022 has gone unnoticed in Venezuelan society. The forged consensus achieved among the democratic parties, the decision to reduce their bureaucratic apparatus, and the effort to make a constitutional interpretation of its boundaries, have not mitigated the feeling of insignificance.
For an important part of the national public opinion, the interim presidency is an abstraction without content that will no longer be able to promote any transition to democracy: an entelechy that is justified only to maintain jobs and guarantee the salaries of the personnel who occupy it, peppered with accusations of administrative irregularities. But, despite the pessimism, disinterest and emotional distancing that is also experienced by part of the opposition parties, the announced agreement seems to indicate that, for the moment, there is no strategic approach with which to replace it. Everyone, including his critics, ended up approving this extension on Monday.
But despite renewing his mandate for another year as interim president, Juan Guaidó today faces his most committed political moment. Citizen enthusiasm has cooled; critics rise within their own ranks; it lacks the instruments to confront Chavismo and faces accusations for mismanagement of the resources administered by the interim government. He also looks particularly exposed to the official judicial apparatus.
The extension of the mandate to Juan Guaidó, expressed in the reform of the Transitional Statute approved in 2019, was possible thanks to the fact that Voluntad Popular (the party of Leopoldo López and Juan Guaidó) and Primero Justicia (that of Julio Borges and Henrique Capriles) They were forced by circumstances to seek an agreement to reach a point of equilibrium that would force them to abandon their mutually exclusive aspirations.
The rapprochement is the product, among other things, of the pressure exerted by the international opposition allies, in particular the United States, with the active mediation of the rest of the G-4 allied parties, as the main opposition groups are known. Present in the previous legislature: First Justice, Democratic Action, Popular Will and A New Time.
After exhausting several rounds of consultations with jurists and specialists in constitutional law, Primero Justicia gave up its intention to subordinate Guaidó’s management to the Parliament, controlled by the opposition in the 2015 elections, which today operates in semi-clandestine conditions.
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Popular Will had to compromise that the interim presidency continue to be regulated by the lapses contemplated in the Statute, abandoning the aspiration to maintain the position indefinitely. The diplomatic delegations of the interim government were reduced, from the initial 60, to 10, which are the current nations that recognize Guaidó as interim president of Venezuela.
The constructed diagram satisfied the opposition deputies. Delsa Solórzano, from Encuentro Ciudadano, who expressed her disagreement with the first drafts, then went on to approve and declared: “The National Assembly elected in 2015 is the only legitimate institution left to the country, recognized by the democratic world. We cannot leave Venezuela without institutions. Venezuela cannot disappear, we cannot hand over the Republic. We know that this is very risky and not easy, but the interests of the country are first, ”he said.
But despite the efforts in the search for consensus, which had the advice of several well-known lawyers, they did not prevent criticism from raining down on him. Eglée Gonzalez Lobato, political scientist and doctor of law from the Central University of Venezuela, considers that the reform of the statute “scandalously amalgamates executive and legislative functions in a single person.” “An extreme measure has been taken to guarantee the continuity of Guaidó, who is plagued with irregularities. With the argument that they are defending democracy, they have confiscated the Statute to guarantee their permanence in power, arguing that this is a more political problem than a legal one. When legal mechanisms are disregarded and procedures are perverted, we run the risk of democratic parties assuming that they are in a supra-constitutional zone, ”he says.
González Lobato foresees that this step “will increase Maduro’s hostility. It is a circumstance that will make understanding difficult. It will undermine the peaceful ways we must seek to get out of this national tragedy without additional trauma ”.
The opposing maze
The extension of a new mandate to Guaidó cannot hide the clear emotional and interpretative cracks that at this moment are furrowing the panorama of the Venezuelan opposition, immersed today in a new loss. In particular, dissenting voices are growing in sectors of the Primero Justicia and Acción Democrática parties that question the obsolescence of the interim office and the exhaustion of the route drawn up in 2019 to make possible the return of full democracy to Venezuela.
Algeria Ríos, a political analyst, believes that “the interim government as a project has collapsed. The only objective that supports it is the protection of Venezuelan assets abroad, save them from Maduro’s hands, protect them to support an eventual transition to democracy in the country. “
Ríos, who is also a journalist and writer, considers that the effort made by Guaidó has been titanic and must be recognized: “Guaidó’s weakening has a lot to do with the lack of internal support. It has been difficult to build a movement for national unity around him. Many people view him with suspicion, as an enemy that becomes an obstacle to the dream of reaching the Presidency in an election in 2024. There are many people with presidential aspirations who are determined to get rid of him. “
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