First point of dialogue: what is the Constitution?

328 tshirt

The t-shirt all MUD delegates should wear under their suits, exposing them the second the cadena starts…

Chavistas insist on making life really difficult for those of us who want to support dialogue.

The Foreign Minister of Ecuador, Ricardo Patiño, said some seemingly innocuous things today that, beneath the surface, are deeply incendiary. As a member of the overseers of the “dialogue” “process” between the government and the opposition, he had this to say when discussing the points of agreement between the two parties:

“There are some elements in which, even before sitting down yesterday, they had agreed upon: we will do everything according to the Constitution, which is good. Therefore, there is no pressure to replace president Maduro by asking him to leave. There is an agreement in that, so this point is not under discussion.”

According to Patiño, asking the President to resign … is unconstitutional!

Patiño needs to go back to Democracy 101. His twisted understanding of the rights of citizens is not surprising considering Patiño represents a government that has called the Venezuelan opposition “fascists,” and is responsible for serious violations of democratic norms. Ecuador, after all, is one of the places in our continent where freedom of the press is most threatened.

Patiño, along with the rest of UNASUR, needs to acknowledge that asking the government to resign is not only constitutional, it is the only reasonable thing to do given the chaos that Venezuela has become. By equating a natural right of citizens with violating the Constitution, Patiño is, in effect, skewing, twisting, degrading, and mauling our Constitution.

The MUD is doing right by sitting down and talking with the government. It should not, however, give Patiño and the government a free pass. When we let foreigners come in and dictate what our Constitution means, we are capitulating before we even begin. If we let this fly, the MUD would basically be agreeing that those who call for Maduro to resign, such as Maria Corina Machado, are acting outside the Constitution.

They should press the other side (i.e., the government and their lackeys) to correct this. If they don’t, they should simply walk away.

29 thoughts on “First point of dialogue: what is the Constitution?

  1. At this point, I just hope that the MUD chooses its best, most agile speakers. Still somewhat shocking that it will be broadcast en cadena nacional. Wonder what the rules of the game will be (if there are any)?


  2. The part of me that thinks this dialogue isn’t going to work, does it because these “overseers” are as bad as the guys on the other side. I just hope the members of the MUD over there don’t act like the “colaboracionistas” that many in the opposition are trying to paint them as.


  3. Imma quote myself on this:

    “Summing up: article 68 says you can hold peaceful demonstrations (including rallies and marches, excluding barricades), article 51 says that you can petition authorities on matters within their competence, and article 233 says resigning is within the competence of the president of the republic. THEREFORE peaceful demonstrations to petition the president to resign IS perfectly legal and constitutional.



  4. I still agree with yesterday’s Juan:

    “Memo to Maria Corina, Ledezma, and the rest of the Intransigents: who ever said that sitting down and talking with the government meant abandoning the streets? Can’t we do both things?
    The Israelis and the Palestinians have always sat down while their forces on the ground were doing their thing. It’s the way conflicts develop.”

    The more the protests grow, the more the government will cooperate with the opposition and back away. Just keep pushing until the criminals capitulate. And save face by showing to the socialists and non-socialists overseas that the opposition is not as irascible as it is portrayed by the media, and is 100% open to dialogue. The opposition must use this so-called dialogue with the government and its lackeys as a tool to achieve the ultimate goal: the fall of Maduro. The oppositionists attending these meetings don’t even have to hear what those Maduro mouthpieces are saying. They just have to physically present. And that can’t mean the people abandoning the streets in any way. Actually, the people should only abandon the streets AFTER the dictatorship is gone.


    • Ploys for dialogue are because:

      The Guarimbas are the only thing that motivates the government for these false dialogues,in which they might make some small concessions in order to split the opposition and have the moderates sign a “peace” agreement with them and thus leaving those who are doing the guarimbas in the minority to be condemned by all so called “peace” loving Venezuelans who unfortunately inadvertently consolidate government power.

      The fact is that the gaurimbas are the only factor that limits the totalitarian power of the government which is free to do anything in the country it wants…because on a temporary basis the government cannot project their beyond the guarimbas.The guarimbas are a symbol for freedom because everyone knows that on this temporary basis the dictatorship is not in control.


      • I agree with you! But 30 guys doing a guarimba doesn’t hurt the government as much as 50,000 people peacefully marching through Caracas every three or four days. The opposition must show to Maduro that they are too many and are not going anywhere. Besides, the moderates meeting with Maduro can sign whatever they whish to as long as the protests continue and grow stronger every day. The oppositionists have to use Chavismo strategies against Chavismo itself: just sign the fake deal proposed by Maduro and just ignore it altogether as soon as leaving the room. The opposition can always use the argument that the prostests are “beyond their control” at this point (what wouldn’t be a lie). You can’t be a puritan when fighting the Devil.


        • Marc, It is a lot more than 30 and spreading into the barrios.The movement is going strong.I think peaceful marches are good too,but it is the ‘guarimbas’ that really irritate the government.

          Signing a deal the devil will only make the opposition look false….and if they do not honor the agreement later on…it will be false.


          • Marc,
            I happen to be in contact with some of the people involved with the El Cafetal guarimbas.It’s not just the students who are involved, it is many of the neighbors as well who are adding their support to the students :Mothers, business people, lawyers, doctors etc, and they serve as a symbol of passion,bravery, dedication, honesty, and love to all.They risk their all for their country.

            Signing false peace treaties with the devil out of saving face, simple doesn’t compare.


        • 30 guys doing a guarimba doesn’t hurt the government but it does hurt the 50,000 people peacefully marching through Caracas every three or four days as it delegitimizes the legal protesters by conflating the two groups together as a protest movement.

          I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The guarimbas are a really, really bad strategy over the long term.


  5. I think Patiño is just stating what both sides had agreed on, i.e., the MUD aknowledge that the resignation of Maduro will not be discussed. Is the MUD aiming at some sort of coalition government? There have been rumors about that for quite some time, and quite honestly, that’s probably the most reallistic(?) thing we can dream of.

    But probably this is just that: a dream. A pipe dream, actually. I mean, the opposition has no saying on who the Supreme Court nominees are, and they only has a token representation on the selection of the CNE candidates. It’s then very unlikely that they will get any kind of influence on who’s Finance Minister, or what kind of economic policies they’ll run.

    So, I guess it’s civil war we are aiming for…


  6. Does anyone really believe this is going anywhere? Why is it so hard to accept that this guys are making time to reorganize their “forces”? (they always speak in those terms) The need of so many people to believe that this farce is going to bring anything positive only shows the lack of understanding of what we are facing. Is not Maduro or chavismo: is an international movement seeking to keep the way they have been founded the lastest 15 years. Until we accept that, it is going to be really difficult to plan an effective opposition to this “thugcracy”


    • Exactly. And, while it’s not an either/or situation (dialogue doesn’t mean protests stop) like that post suggested a while back, the MUD is doing such a poor job of making sure people know what the truth of the matter is.

      How come there’s no press conferences right now with the MUD answering questions, saying that they are aware of the conditions under which they’re assisting. They just come off as lazy, playing everything as it goes and taking what they can get.


  7. I’m expecting Maduro to be sitting center of the table, with Patino and the other mediator-buddies sitting by his side, and the opposition sitting in front.

    Sing along to the anthem in the voice of El Gigante, listen to Maduro blab about Chavez and the Revolution while Patino and the others pose their best poker face, then give a minute to one or other opposition member to speak their minds. Undermine Henrique Capriles for assisting, reducing him to a pure Miranda-governor, another-average-opposition-player state.

    Make the effort on national cadena to make the opposition look divided, praising the moderate ones who participated and antagonizing MCM, Ledezma and those who chose not to as enemies of peace, all of this leading to the international portrayal of those still in the streets as radical extremists.

    Maduro wins, UNASUR leaves, fast-forward two months and Maduro tells the joke about Capriles and the gorilla again, this time adding that when he shook his hand he smelled like a gorilla.

    …Or you know, it could be a well-moderated, actual debate.


  8. With the CNE planning to move ahead on elections for new alcaldes in San Diego and San Cristóbal, despite the impending dialogue between President Maduro and the MUD, it is clear that the government is only paying lip service to the dialogue and nothing will change. There is no goodwill here and any gains made by the MUD will be cosmetic and/or insubstantial. Depressing.


  9. The Constitution in Venezuela is whatever is in the eye of the beholder and as interpreted by (the current Chavista) TSJ. Venezuela’s Constitution too often is vague, contradictory, open to interpretation, and with undeliverable promises (e.g., housing for all).


  10. Net: the constitution, while containing some provisions that allow some margin for interpretation is not all that open to whimsical or arbitrrary interpretation as the TSJ has made it out to be . In some cases the ‘interpretations’ handed out by the TSA are blatantly contrary to both the letter and spirit of the Constitution . Breaches to the constitution are allowed or even encouraged simply because the regime has control of enough coercive powers that the implementation of such ínterpretations’ cannot be opposed .

    As J Navarro very clearly and logically points out , it is not contrary under the Constitution to conduct protests which call for the Presidents resignation of his post , but at the same time they dont make such resignation mandatory , so that under the Constitution if Maduro chooses not to resign his office then he is also acting under the Constitution , which makes the Ecuador Ministers Statement a moot or inoccuos point.


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