SPECIAL UPDATE ON THE SITUATION IN VENEZUELA - 9 JANUARY
1) UPDATE: Chavez to be sworn in at a later date - opposition seeks to use this to unconstitutionally force him out
2) EVENT REMINDER - Respect the Democratic Will of the Venezuelan People, No to Right-Wing Destabilisation Plans! Thursday January 10, 7pm. Bolivar Hall, W1T 5DL.
1) UPDATE: Chavez to be sworn in at a later date- opposition seeks to use this to unconstitutionally force him out
by Venezuela Solidarity Campaign
Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro announced on Tuesday (8 January) that President Hugo Chavez will not attend the National Assembly (parliament) for a swearing in ceremony on Thursday 10 January, invoking Article 231 of the country's Constitution that allows for him to be sworn in at a later date. On Wednesday (9 January), the Venezuelan Supreme Court ruled that this was a legally correct procedure.
Maduro explained to the country's National Assembly, by letter, that: "The president has asked us to inform you that, in accordance with the recommendations of the medical team that is taking care of re-establishing his health, the process of recovery will extend further than 10 January .. [thus] we invoke Article 231 of the Constitution of Venezuela ..to formalize a swearing-in in front of the Supreme Court at a further date."
According to the Venezuelan Constitution (Article 231), the presidential oath should be taken before lawmakers in the National Assembly on January 10, but the president may also take the oath before the Supreme Court if he or she is unable to be sworn in before then.The full wording of the article is totally clear on this and reads: "The candidate elected shall take office as President of the Republic on January 10 of the first year of his constitutional term, by taking an oath before the National Assembly. If for any supervening reason, the person elected President of the Republic cannot be sworn in before the National Assembly, he shall take the oath of office before the Supreme Tribunal of Justice."
Hugo Chavez won a record number of votes to be re-elected President with a landslide 55% last October. Despite this overwhelming electoral mandate and clear constitutional provisions for a delay in any swearing in ceremony, Vice President Maduro has warned that the right-wing is attempting to use Chavez's current presence in Cuba for health treatment to force a new election or impose an acting President, which he labelled an "accelerated coup d'état".
In one of the latest signs of the right-wing opposition's campaign to remove Hugo Chavez from the post of Presidency, the Executive Secretary of the right-wing opposition coalition, Ramon Aveledo, falsely claimed in a letter to the Washington-based Organisation of American States on Monday that if Chavez doesn't appear on 10 January, and if there is no declaration of a temporary absence of the president, "a serious violation of the constitutional order will have been committed."
Meanwhile, his party colleague Henrique Capriles, who was the defeated candidate against Hugo Chavez in October, has now worryingly stated that "The Armed Force also has a role to play to play here ... of respecting the constitution".Venezuela's opposition have previously tried coup d'état, economic sabotage and special referenda to remove Hugo Chávez from office.
The government has also warned against sections of the private sector causing shortages of staple goods by "hoarding and speculating" in the coming period, seemingly in order to provoke destabilisation.
Despite these claims from the defeated right-wing opposition, a leading Venezuela's constitutional lawyer Herman Escarrá, who is also a well-known opposition supporter, was very clear when he stressed in a recent interview that the legitimacy of Hugo Chávez as president is unquestionable, regardless of whether he is present or not at a swearing in ceremony on Thursday. He also made clear that the people's will cannot be superseded by unfounded claims from opposition leaders to the contrary.
Escarrá said: "When intervening events occur, that is to say, unforeseen events, then the president must be sworn in at the Supreme Court. It is an incident that can be resolved in accordance with the second part of article 231 of the constitution, which should not be generating multiple and contradicting interpretations because it is a text that is entirely clear. Nor should it generate controversy".
Yet some opposition leaders are arguing that Hugo Chavez should be "temporarily removed" from the Presidency and replaced by the head of the National Assembly Diosdado Cabello. The Supreme Court also rejected this as did Cabello who stated that President Chavez continues to be in charge, pointing out that Hugo Chávez left for Cuba with the unanimous permission of the National Assembly to undergo surgery as President.
Cabello is a leading member of the Chavez-led United Venezuelan Socialist party, the largest party in Venezuela. He said: "Who could have believed the opposition would be screaming for Diosdado Cabello to be given the presidency of the republic?" highlighting how the opposition would seemingly say anything to have Chavez formally removed from office.
Cabello added that "If anyone has doubts, then go to the Supreme Court, go ahead to the Supreme Court, explain what your doubts are..we don't have any doubts about what we have to do and what is (stated) here in the constitution".
In a show of support for the elected president, Uruguay's president, José Mujica, Bolivia's president Evo Morales and other regional heads of state are expected to attend a large rally in Venezuela on Thursday, when the new Presidential term of office begins. Argentine President Cristina Fernandez has announced plans to visit Chavez in Havana on Friday. Brazil has shown its support by declaring that the constitution of Venezuela allows for a delay in the swearing in.
2) EVENT REMINDER - Respect the Democratic Will of the Venezuelan People, No to Right-Wing Destabilisation Plans! Thursday January 10, 7pm, Bolivar Hall, London, W1T 5DL
With Ambassador Samuel Moncada, Tariq Ali (writer,) Karen Mitchell (VSC,) & Jeremy Corbyn MP. Organised by the VSC - this event is free & open to all, but to reserve a place in advance please firstname.lastname@example.org