It is anybody’s guess why the Autocrat/President/Chief Justice of the Supreme Court “came to the conclusion” that indeed the proposed Constitutional Reform could be voted separately in two or three blocks and not as a unit like he and his cohorts had contended up to now. It was he, in his role as autocrat, that arrived at the decision and not the Supreme Court, which has had a number of injunctions on the subject for the last two months, but clearly did not want to go against the wishes of the all powerful autocrat. And as proof that he is the law, he ordered the National Assembly to incorporate his suggestions in order to vote on the reform as soon as possible.
But it was not clear why he did it, since the proposal forces the Electoral Board to throw away all of what it had done in order to fulfill the Constitutional mandate that this has to be voted on 30 days after the National Assembly approves it.
And therein lies the first problem; the changes would make it quite difficult for the referendum vote to take place on December 2nd. as planned, which has led some to suggest that that was exactly the purpose. But I just don’t buy it. Time is running against the Government and the proposal is not very popular and on top of that regional authorities, who would get the Chavista vote out for the reform, seem to have little interest in doing so, as they will see their power reduced by the reform.
In fact, the proposal raised more questions than answers, as some of the articles proposed by The Assembly are related the ones proposed by Chavez and you could not separate them. Just sorting that out, as well as the advertising on the different proposals could take days and there is simple no time for that.
In fact, the about face suggests that it would have been better off for the Supreme Court to rule as it would have delineated the criteria on how to vote these reforms and how one can propose or not that some articles are voted as a block.
Some have suggested this may make the proposed reform more popular as it would seem more open, but I just think that the whole affair just gets more confusing and it may just be that Chavez came up with this on his own and announced without consultation without realizing the possible consequences of the measure.
But to suggest this, just when the cry of the students has been for a postponement of the referendum seems to give ammunition to the student’s proposal, which I do not believe will favor Chavismo. To begin with, shortages are increasing and people are getting frustrated with them and they are blaming only the Chavez Government. Add to that the upcoming rush in inflation due to the new tax and the soaring swap rate and the mood, which has already been ratified by protests lately, can only become worse. Additionally, the Enabling Bill also imposes a time limit on the approval of the Constitution since there are many bills that require approval.
I also don’t buy that Chavez could lose the proposal as it stands today. It is clear that what people don’t like is the indefinite reelection, but Chavez is putting that on the same block with the shortened work week and the retroactive severance pay, so there is little chance that it has something to with it.
But the gauntlet has been thrown and now Chavismo will have to disentangle its consequences, unless of course, the Venezuelan Supreme Court rules that Chavez is wrong and the whole thing was a ploy to make him look more open that he really is. Just in case this is the goal, Teodoro Petkoff challenged Chavez to separate the indefinite reelection from his overall proposal to be voted on separately, which Chavez will never dare accept. But even this theory of the “more open” and “gentler” Chavez seems too far-fetched and inconsequential to be behind the proposal.
So, we will just have to wait and see how the complexity is disentangled from the autocrat’s proposal and if the CNE has the capability to hold the vote in 31 days as the National Assembly wants. It definitely seems rushed to me, but so has seemed the whole process that has led us to this point and to an absolutely fraudulent and illegal proposal by Chavez to change the Venezuelan Constitution.
Fuente: Salon blogs