I’ve had it.
Read my post here.
Bolivia Nueva (link in Spanish) reports on a new study that shows egregious voter fraud in the 2014 general election.
Tens of thousands of votes were cast exceeding the number of registered voters (my translation),
In districts 6, 7, 8 y 9 of La Paz, the Supreme Court registered 513,884 voters. However, 556,799 voted. That is, there were 42,915 votes too many.
Similar results were shown in El Alto, Chuquisaca, and Cochabamba, among others.
Bolivia Nueva calls for an audit of the entire electoral system.
As you may recall, Evo Morales was re-elected in 2014 for a third term which ends in 2014. Morales has already asked to end term limits so he can run for a fourth term in 2019. The coca growers want him to remain as president until 2035.
Venezuelan Assembly Installs Contested Members. Venezuela’s newly installed parliament swore in three opposition lawmakers despite a Supreme Court order arising from an appeal of election results, giving President Nicolás Maduro’s rivals dominant control of the legislature.
National Assembly President Henry Ramos Allup read the oath of office to three deputies from the remote Venezuelan state of Amazonas during the legislature’s first official session after the bulk of its members were sworn in on Tuesday.
Mr. Ramos acted in the face of a recent court ruling saying the lawmakers couldn’t be seated until a review of last month’s electoral results, which were challenged by the ruling United Socialist Party.
Meanwhile, Maduro appointed a new cabinet and a new VP
Mr. Maduro appointed a longtime Socialist ally, Aristóbulo Istúriz, governor of the oil-rich state of Anzoátegui, as his new vice president. Mr. Istúriz, the first Afro-Caribbean to reach such a post in Venezuela, replaces Jorge Arreaza, a son-in-law of Mr. Chavez,who is moving to the Education Ministry.
Priceless: WSJ cover: Out with the old, in with new in Venezuela https://t.co/poOUkuxR2q
— Miguel Octavio (@moctavio) January 7, 2016
He’s talking about this,
I’m still fighting a miserable cold, so I’m still not up to par. Here’s a roundup on Venezuela’s news,
El Universal (Venezuela): Pro-gov’t deputies leave the National Assembly. At the inauguration session of the deputies in the National Assembly (AN), the parliamentarians of the ruling party left the headquarters of the Legislature that Congress Speaker Henry Ramos violated the rules of procedure
WSJ: Venezuela Swears In Opposition-Led Assembly. The new National Assembly was installed in Caracas amid rising political tension, as President Nicolás Maduro moved to curtail the body’s influence and block attempts to overhaul the country’s crippled economy.
Rival rallies called in downtown Caracas on Tuesday morning had sparked fears of conflict outside the National Assembly. Those fears were unrealized, as activists from both sides emphasized the need for peace in a country suffering from the world’s second highest murder rate.Inside the assembly, however, the nation’s political polarization found ample expression. Government allies called opposition leaders “murderers” for supporting a wave of deadly antigovernment protests in 2014; in response, opposition supporters chanted: “We are now the majority.” A speech by an opposition leader was interrupted by minor scuffles around the tribune.
In late December the exiting Assembly members approved 13 new Supreme Court judges in what critics said was an attempt to stack the court and prevent the new body from filling vacancies that would have come up this year.Then, just days before the swearing-in, the Supreme Court blocked four newly elected legislators from taking office, three from the opposition and one from Mr. Maduro’s United Socialist Party. The court ruled in favor of a socialist candidate who had challenged the election results in Amazonas State.
The opposition viewed this as part of a bid to chip away at its two-thirds majority, which allows it to propose constitutional changes and remove Supreme Court judges, among other things.
Then on Monday the lame-duck legislators approved a new package of government spending and Mr. Maduro signed a decree that stripped the Assembly of its traditional oversight of the Central Bank, including the ability to remove and appoint directors and receive economic data.
The official party’s deputies were especially incensed by statements made by the head of the opposition sector, Julio Borges, of the First Justice (PJ) party, who said that the first item on the parliamentary agenda would be the passing of an amnesty and national reconciliation law to benefit the close to 100 political prisoners serving time in Venezuelan penitentiaries. According to the pro-government deputies, such a statement has no place in an inaugural session.
At the blogs:
The first day of the New Assembly
Of the eight disputed seats, the Justices will prevent the four deputies from Amazonas state from taking office:
Government candidates who lost in the races filed election challenges in six election districts with the Supreme Court, alleging voting irregularities. The government alleged that votes were bought by the opposition in Amazonas, a poor state with a small population in the south of the country.
More at the WSJ:
The court has come under harsh criticism from analysts and rights groups since the lame duck parliament last week appointed 13 Socialist party loyalists as magistrates before lawmakers’ terms ended. Venezuelan legal experts said Socialist legislators violated constitutional norms by naming party allies as judges and by rushing through the appointment process in two days of marathon assembly sessions that opposition lawmakers largely boycotted and deemed illegitimate.
. . .
Posted on its website, the Supreme Court’s statement didn’t specify on what grounds it acted against the lawmakers from Amazonas. While the court had received requests for injunctions on nine legislative seats won by the opposition, the court only ordered a halt on three of them. The six others will be able to participate in the inauguration next week, though their cases will still be subject to a judicial review.
It affects all three deputies from Amazonas state, and the indigenous deputy from the Southern Region, which also includes Apure state.
. . .
Opposition-linked legal scholar José Ignacio Hernández suggests MUD is fully justified in simply ignoring the ruling
Hernández posits a matter of jurisdiction:
Developing . . .
Six days to go before the new National Assembly is sworn in, the PSUV contests the election results:
Venezuela’s ruling party filed motions to dispute the election of eight lawmakers from the opposition coalition, which on Dec. 6 obtained a majority with enough power to rein in President Nicolás Maduro, sack Cabinet ministers and even call an assembly to rewrite Hugo Chávez’s 1999 constitution.
The government’s party needs to succeed in unseating just one of the eight elected lawmakers to take away the so-called supermajority from the opposition.
The motions were filed Tuesday before the Supreme Court, just days after the government appointed 13 new justices — including two of the five justices from the Sala Electoral, the panel charged with all electoral issues.
As I said on December 7,
The immediate challenge:
The new members to the National Assembly do not take office until January 5th. Diosdado Cabello and his goons can cause a lot of harm and mayhem in one month.
The takeaway: What takes place in Venezuela in the next month, and in the first six months of 2016 will be crucially important for our entire hemisphere.
[Post re-entered to include omitted text]
The new National Assembly takes office on January 4th. Here are a few headlines:
National Assembly members were summoned to four extraordinary sessions on December 22 and 23 for this purpose; usually, Congress ends its last session of the year on December 15, but the current ruling party majority decided to delay its recess after the opposition’s recent victory in the parliamentary elections.
On December 22, the Supreme Court’s Constitutional Chamber issued a ruling stating that all extraordinary sessions in the National Assembly have legal validity. This means that any decision that outgoing congressmen approve will be legitimate.
By appointing 21 new Supreme Court magistrates, Chavista congressmen would be able to avoid investigations against members of congress and government officials being prosecuted in foreign courts. The measure also hinders the discharge or impeachment of the president, ministers, members of the armed forces and other high-ranking functionaries.
Jackson Diehl predicts a very likely outcome: Strongmen strike back in Burma and Venezuela
In Caracas, opposition leaders also appeared ready to negotiate. But Maduro and his most powerful deputy, National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello, embraced a radical, and highly risky, strategy of confrontation.
Since the Dec. 6 vote, Cabello has convoked a new, unelected “communal Congress” and installed it in the parliament building. Maduro has hinted that the outgoing N ational A ssembly, which remains in office until Jan. 5, may transfer its powers to the new “Congress.” Meanwhile, the ruling party rushed last week to appoint 13 new members to the supreme court, which was already under government control.
All these steps were flagrantly unconstitutional. But the most ominous measure floated by the Chavistas goes still further: a court action to overturn the election of 22 opposition deputies. Last Tuesday, opposition leaders called a news conference to announce the government was going through with what would amount to a nuclear option. Hours later, the supreme courtmysteriously responded that it had received no such petition.
Venezuelan analysts believe the episode may have been a sign of a divide in the regime. The intransigence of Maduro and Cabello is likely encouraged by the regime’s hard-line Cuban advise rs, but it is also rooted in corruption. Cabello is reportedly a prime target of a U.S. federal drug trafficking investigation, while two of Maduro’s nephews are already being held in New York on trafficking charges. With U.S. prosecutors involved, the Chavistas, unlike Burma’s generals, cannot negotiate a pass.
On the other hand, the Venezuelan military, including Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino López, has no interest in tactics that may drive Venezuelans into the streets and leave the a rmy with the job of putting down a “people power” rebellion. That would be the likely result of reversing the election results. So it could be that Venezuela’s victorious opposition, like Burma’s, will end up negotiating with the generals.
TheWaPo editorial board looks at The anti-democratic maneuvers of Venezuela’s leaders
At the blogs:
The priorities ahead
In a report Monday, the group, the Venezuelan Violence Observatory, estimated that 27,875 killings occurred this year, pushing the homicide rate up to 90 per 100,000 residents; last year, its count was 82 per 100,000.
— Prof. Steve Hanke (@steve_hanke) December 28, 2015
As you may recall, I posted on December 8th,
As far as the military (which allegedly may be involved in the drug trade), Miami’s El Nuevo Herald reports that Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino López refused to go along with Nicolas Maduro’s and Diosdado Cabello’s orders to disregard the opposition’s massive victory, since that would lend itself to a prolonged period of violence.
Madrid’s El País highlights the military’s role last Sunday night (link in Spanish, my translation),
“According to unconfirmed reports, the military’s high command let it be known during the tense Sunday evening that it would not support any results showing anything but the actual votes. That was the first sign that the military was unwilling to stand by the chavista government no matter what.”
Seeing a 75% turnout, it’s not unreasonable to assume that the military were aware that a lot of chavistas – and many among the military – had voted for the opposition.
Itxu Díaz has an article in The Daily Beast, How Venezuela’s Military Saved Democracy (For Its Own Reasons). Venezuela was on the brink of civil war, and that was the last thing the army wanted. But it still wants to be the arbiter of power.
The opposition claimed Maduro loyalists were trying to steal the election with last-minute ballots and using false identification papers.
In anticipation of such illegal maneuvers, military officers aligned with the opposition implemented a secret plan known as “Operation 7K,” Montaner reported. It was lead by retired Gen. Ovidio Poggioli, who recruited 7,000 voters as observers. They pulled together election data table by table and sent the results in real time to the opposition, avoiding possible fraud in the count.
I am more cynical than Díaz, and would not say that the military “saved democracy”. It brought forth the election results in real time, yes, but democracy had little to do with their reasons, since having a country lapse into a semi-civil war would interfere with the military’s real and more profitable businesses (which, as mentioned above, allegedly may include the drug trade).
it looks as if Maduro’s power is coming to an end.
Maybe, maybe not. The chavistas in power are not just sitting there:
In my December 8th post I also linked to Oppenheimer’s prediction, Beware of post-election coup in Venezuela. Well, Alfredo Meza reports that now ‘Chavismo’ seeks ways to stay in power following heavy election defeat. Venezuela’s assembly speaker swears in a parallel parliament before opposition takes over. You read it right,
Venezuela’s ruling “Chavista” coalition has responded to the setback suffered in the December 6 parliamentary elections, when it lost its long-standing majority to the opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), by installing a parallel “communal parliament” that aims to exercise the same powers of the National Assembly under the Constitution.
“I will give all the power to the communal parliament, and that parliament will be a legislative body of the rank-and-file people,” said Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro on Tuesday.
. . .
The communal parliament is aimed at not recognizing the landslide victory of the opposition.
Additionally, and rather ironically, the PSUV wants investigations of “irregularities” in precincts where the opposition won.
Daniel Duquenal splits hairs and posts that Chavismo these days illustrates very well the difference between fascism and communism, but as Hayek posited,
the collectivist idea of empowering government with increasing economic control would lead not to a utopia but to the horrors of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy.
It also led to the Soviet gulags.
Democracy is far from safe at all times, but certainly is not safe in Venezuela.