Drama in Venezuela: This “constitutional crisis” is looking pretty serious

posted at 4:01 pm on January 9, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

It’s official: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez will supposedly not be sufficiently recovered from his December cancer surgery to attend his pre-scheduled January 10th presidential inauguration, but completely predictably, the Venezuelan high court has decided that Chavez missing the inauguration is constitutionally hunky-dory, despite the protestations from certain lieutenants and opponents alike.

To no one’s great surprise, Venezuela’s Supreme Court ruled unanimously Wednesday that cancer-stricken Hugo Chavez does not have to take the oath of office Thursday to begin his fourth term has president, a finding that some legal experts assailed as unconstitutional.

In a news conference Wednesday, Court President Luisa Estela Morales said Chavez’s absence is acceptable because it is neither “temporary nor permanent” given that his service will be uninterrupted and therefore does not fall under constitutional guidelines that could have forced Chavez to be present for the swearing-in ceremony or relinquish power. …

To have the Supreme Court administer the oath or delay the swearing-in, the president-elect must ask for a temporary postponement. Government officials say Chavez is conscious and in possession of his mental faculties.

But is Chavez’s incapacitation really neither “temporary nor permanent”? Chavez has not been seen nor heard from publicly since his operation in Cuba almost a full month ago (most out of character for him at such, er, ‘auspicious’ moments), and he is reportedly suffering from “respiratory insufficiency.” The rumors are flying that the two-decade president won’t be well enough to take up the reins again, ever; cue the power vacuum:

“It’s very evident that he isn’t governing, and what they want us to believe is that he’s governing, and they’re lying,” opposition leader Ramon Guillermo Aveledo told the Venezuelan television channel Globovision. He insisted that the National Assembly president should take over temporarily as interim leader and that the Supreme Court should appoint a panel of doctors to determine Chavez’s condition. …

While leaders of both the pro- and anti-Chavez camps say they don’t expect violence to break out Thursday, the government called for the socialist president’s supporters to gather for a demonstration at the presidential palace that day, and said that some foreign leaders were coming to visit. Bolivian President Evo Morales and Uruguayan President Jose Mujica have confirmed they will attend. …

Opposition leader Henrique Capriles, who was defeated by Chavez in October’s presidential vote, suggested on Tuesday that the military “has a role to play to play here,” though he did not give details. …

On Tuesday night, state television showed a video conference between Maduro and top military officers in which Defense Minister Diego Molero expressed the armed forces “unquestionable loyalty.”

Will Chavez really be back soon in full and robust health, or are we seeing a potential coup in the works here? Keep a weather eye out — the answer will have huge implications about the balance of power in both Venezuela and Latin America at large.


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Venezuela is sort of becoming like the USA.

Oil Can on January 9, 2013 at 4:10 PM

Generalissimo Hugo Chavez is still “delicate”.

Steve Eggleston on January 9, 2013 at 4:12 PM

Will Chavez really be back soon in full and robust health, or are we seeing a potential coup in the works here?

I’ll take door number 3 – the usual post-dictator scramble for power.

Steve Eggleston on January 9, 2013 at 4:13 PM

He’s in a medically induced coma which creates its own problems. On to of that, he still has cancer. I don’t know why they put him into a coma. He could have had a cardiac arrest, a stroke, etc., causing his brain to swell.

Blake on January 9, 2013 at 4:14 PM

Early elections favor the Chavists rather than the opposition so any interim is a good thing and hopefully the opposing factions can remain united through the chaos until Chavez is entirely dead and buried.

lexhamfox on January 9, 2013 at 4:18 PM

IOW, he’s not coming back and he’ll be damn lucky if he ever awakes. I can’t believe they have no provision for this. I swear that the governments in SA are run by bozos.

Blake on January 9, 2013 at 4:19 PM

I’ll take door number 3 – the usual post-dictator scramble for power.

Steve Eggleston on January 9, 2013 at 4:13 PM

Yep. And Cuba and Bolivia could be going down with him, too, since he’s been propping both regimes up in various ways.

Mr. D on January 9, 2013 at 4:19 PM

Ahhh, Cuban nationalized healthcare, is there anything it can’t do?

JeremiahJohnson on January 9, 2013 at 4:22 PM

My entire family (in-laws) are from Cuba/Venezuela.

Let me assure you, Chavez destroyed the constitution there. It makes no difference. Chavez replaced the entire court with those favorable to him. It matters not.

thedude on January 9, 2013 at 4:23 PM

When there is a dictatorship/monarchy or whatever it is, the first thing one does is have sons to take over when you die, or at least a strong heir. Make sure the Constitution does not have a clause that in time of death there is a election as even sham election can get messy.

tjexcite on January 9, 2013 at 4:25 PM

They have a constitution?

forest on January 9, 2013 at 4:27 PM

They have a constitution?

forest on January 9, 2013 at 4:27 PM

Probably about as respected as ours.

CW on January 9, 2013 at 4:30 PM

“Is the head dead yet? The boys in the newsroom have a running bet!!”

Deano1952 on January 9, 2013 at 4:32 PM

So, they can borrow our commie Pres. for what ever unconstitutional dictorship work they need done down there, he will fit right in.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on January 9, 2013 at 4:35 PM

4 surgeries in the pelvic are over the last few months? Can anyone imagine how shredded up his innards must be by now? Whether its bladder, or prostate, or something even more obscure, it doesn’t matter. If it wasn’t spreading, it would have been stopped by the first surgery. Once it starts spreading, it’s just a matter of time. His doctors keep cutting on him because they’re scared to say there’s no hope. But everyone involved has to know that there’s no hope left.

He ain’t slowly regaining his strength. Cancer, sad to say, don’t work that way.

Tom Servo on January 9, 2013 at 4:35 PM

I swear that the governments in SA are run by bozos.

Blake on January 9, 2013 at 4:19 PM

Much like the governments in North America.

UltimateBob on January 9, 2013 at 4:35 PM

Obama talks of taking guns.
Obama says “he will act”.
Obama says “I have the authority” to act.
Obama says I have he U.S.Senate on a string, they are a nice little group of 100 puppets.

And we make fun of Venzoolala land.

Mirror Mirror on our Wall, who are the biggest fools of all?

APACHEWHOKNOWS on January 9, 2013 at 4:39 PM

whoever promises Cuba oil to pull the plug wins.

rob verdi on January 9, 2013 at 4:47 PM

In case you hadn’t noticed – We’re having a Constituonal Crisis in the US right now…

Skywise on January 9, 2013 at 4:50 PM

Reread the article, replacing “Venezuala/Venezualan” with America/American, and “Chavez” with “Obama”. This is how it will read in a few short years.

NOMOBO on January 9, 2013 at 4:55 PM

Bottom line: Unconscious, on a respirator. He can’t even pose of a bed photo giving a thumbs-up.

Venezuela has too much oil. There will be blood.

BocaJuniors on January 9, 2013 at 5:00 PM

Will Chavez really be back soon in full and robust health, or are we seeing a potential coup in the works here? Keep a weather eye out — the answer will have huge implications about the balance of power in both Venezuela and Latin America at large.

The real questions are “Will the Chavistas unite behind Maduro?” and “What will the military do?” If Maduro is able to take the reins with no opposition from his Chavista rival, Diosdado Cabello, then it is unlikely things will change. However, if Cabello opposes him in a new general election, it could turn into a three-way between Maduro, Cabello, and the opposition leader Capriles, and if that happens Capriles will definitely win.

The military could also try a coup as well, that would throw everything into chaos.

Yep. And Cuba and Bolivia could be going down with him, too, since he’s been propping both regimes up in various ways.

Mr. D on January 9, 2013 at 4:19 PM

Also the Caribbean. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-01-03/chavez-cancer-imperils-7-billion-caribbean-oil-funding-energy.html

The Caribbean is locked in the middle of a very ugly debt crisis right now (excepting Trinidad, Suriname, and Guyana, all of which have high-demand commodities). They can ill-afford to lose this oil funding. Chavez’s death is going to have major implications for the entire southwestern part of the globe.

Doomberg on January 9, 2013 at 5:13 PM

Doomberg on January 9, 2013 at 5:13 PM

+1

BocaJuniors on January 9, 2013 at 5:14 PM

In the 1950s there was a movie (British I think) about a fictional eastern European country whose leader (a dictator) had died. The plot line was about the superhuman efforts to hide his death using stand ins, press releases and phony newsreel shots. The hero of the film knew of the deception and wanted to expose it but watched others in the know suffer untimely and voilent deaths.

One wonders if the same ruse might happen with Chavez so his close allies can hold power.Certainly not alot is coming out of Havana about his status.

Corky Boyd on January 9, 2013 at 5:56 PM

In a news conference Wednesday, Court President Luisa Estela Morales said Chavez’s absence is acceptable because it is neither “temporary nor permanent” given that his service will be uninterrupted and therefore does not fall under constitutional guidelines that could have forced Chavez to be present for the swearing-in ceremony or relinquish power. …

Hmmmm…. sounds like the “It’s a tax, but not a tax” BS that was given to us by our Supreme Court.

Theophile on January 9, 2013 at 7:21 PM

If he’s not already dead, then likely he’s as conscious as Ariel Sharon. He’s been in that state for 7 years now, so the corrupt regime in Venezuela can possibly use this to abuse their power for as long as they wish, in that case.

Gingotts on January 9, 2013 at 8:22 PM

Weekend at Bernie’sHugo’s.

trigon on January 9, 2013 at 8:26 PM

Maybe Sean Penn will volunteer to take the reigns.

WIN-WIN baby!

He’s bound to find someone there who loves him; something that he’s admitted to have been lacking all of his life

Gunslinger on January 9, 2013 at 8:32 PM

…JugEars is taking notes!

KOOLAID2 on January 9, 2013 at 8:55 PM

…and he is reportedly suffering from “respiratory insufficiency.”

In other words, not breathing. Ergo dead. Next tin pot dic-tater-tot in line, please step forward…

Big John on January 10, 2013 at 7:47 AM

In a news conference Wednesday, Court President Luisa Estela Morales said Chavez’s absence is acceptable because it is neither “temporary nor permanent” given that his service will be uninterrupted….

So, he’s lying comatose in Cuba but he’s not absent (at least not temporarily or permanently–is there another kind?), and his service is “uninterrupted.” On that reasoning doesn’t it then follow that when he dies he’ll become President for Life?(Can’t get much more unabsent or uninterrupted than that.) Methinks this wise Latina has been reading too much Joseph Heller.

Barnestormer on January 10, 2013 at 9:34 AM