December 6th didn’t bring any surprises. Chavismo in power, led by Nicolas Maduro, took over the National Assembly. Beyond the discussion about the legitimacy of these elections, it shows us the government logic of keeping everything under its control is in play.
Moreover, December 6th symbolizes something that we were already seeing in 2017 and 2018. The will to impose a political reality and paying the price to do this. In 2017, Maduro instated a Constituent National Assembly, which wasn’t meant to draft a new Constitution. It was meant to be a space where his decisions could be endorsed, because there wasn’t a well-behaved Parliament.
Most of the world didn’t recognize the parallel legislature. It contradicted the current Constitution in force, but it was there long enough to do what was needed.
In 2018, Maduro limited any possibility of a real opposition challenge when he ran the presidential election his own way. It was a totally illegitimate electoral process, there’s no doubt about it. However, his party managed to impose its reality once again. Maduro is illegitimate, but he’s the one in power, he’s the one making all the decisions.
We saw this same logic of imposing his political reality, come rain or shine, this time with the National Assembly. If 19% or 31% of Venezuelans on the electoral register voted, this would be a long Byzantine discussion. Many analysts will invest lots of time on it. However, this is a secondary matter in the eyes of Maduro and his supporters. Votes were cast, there is a list of elected lawmakers, and a new parliament will be instated on January 5th.
The dynamic of Chavismo in power is clear. At least ever since 2015 when the response to a resounding electoral defeat in legislative elections was to dismount that institution. The amount of destruction left it its wake didn’t matter. The issue was power, holding onto it or getting it.
A total of 135 sentences from the Maduro controlled Supreme Court invalidated all National Assembly actions. It was crystal clear that Chavismo can’t survive democratically if powers are separated.
Now, Maduro will have absolute control of all the State institutions. If we are to go by statements made by the newly-elected lawmakers, Diosdado Cabello and Cilia Flores, a checkmate is coming for Juan Guaido and the lawmakers that surround him. There are also clear signs that they will act against the international funding of civil society organizations.
The logic of keeping breakaway groups under the government’s thumb continues. Meanwhile, it seems like traditional opposition groups have their hands tied behind their back. Selective repression will also target spokespeople and activists of what has come to be called “critical Chavismo”.
Contrary to Maduro’s great electoral offer to leave if his party lost, he won’t be giving up his power. His Socialist PSUV party won by an overwhelming majority according to his version of events. Therefore, don’t expect a change of leadership in terms of the economy, with Maduro’s trusted figures heading the new parliament.
At the end of the day, it’s more of the same old… just that things are looking even worse this time.
Article originally published on El Estimulo.