Eric Zuesse, originally posted at strategic-culture.org
Venezuela’s Constitution simply does not permit what U.S. President Trump is demanding, which is overthrowing and replacing the elected Venezuelan President by the second-in-line-of succession. What Trump demands is comparable in Venezuela to, in America, removing Trump and skipping over the Vice President and appointing Nancy Pelosi as America’s President, and it also violates the Venezuelan Constitution’s requirement that the Supreme Judicial Tribunal must first approve before there can be ANY change of the President without an election by the voters.
Here are the relevant Constitutional provisions:
ARTICLE 266: The following are powers of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice: (1) To exercise constitutional jurisdiction in accordance with title VIII of this Constitution. (2) To rule as to whether or not there are grounds for impeaching the President of the Republic or whomever may be acting in that capacity, and if so, to retain competence of the proceedings, subject to the approval of the National Assembly, until the final judgment. (3) To rule as to whether or not there are grounds for impeaching the Vice-President of the Republic; members of the National Assembly or the Supreme Tribunal of Justice itself, Ministers; the General Attorney; General Prosecutor; General Comptroller of the Republic; the People Defender; Governors; general officers and naval admirals of the National Armed Forces; or the heads of Venezuelan diplomatic missions; and, if so, to refer the record to the General Prosecutor of the Republic or whomever is acting in his capacity, where appropriate, and if the offense charged is a common crime, the Supreme Tribunal of Justice shall retain competence of the matter until a final judgment is handed down. …
ARTICLE 233: The President of the Republic shall become permanently unavailable to serve by reason of any of the following events: death; resignation; removal from office by decision of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice; permanent physical or mental disability certified by a medical board designated by the Supreme Tribunal of Justice with the approval of the National Assembly; abandonment of his position, duly declared by the National Assembly; and recall by popular vote. When an elected President becomes permanently unavailable to serve prior to his inauguration, a new election by universal suffrage and direct ballot shall be held within 30 consecutive days. Pending election and inauguration of the new President, the President of the National Assembly shall take charge of the Presidency of the Republic. … Pending election and inauguration of the new President, the Executive Vice-President shall take charge of the Presidency of the Republic.In the cases describes above, the new President shall complete the current constitutional term of office. …
ARTICLE 234: A President of the Republic who becomes temporarily unavailable to serve shall be replaced by the Executive Vice-President for a period of up to 90 days, which may be extended by resolution of the National Assembly for an additional 90 days.
Unfortunately, that Constitution contradicts itself by asserting:
ARTICLE 233: Pending election and inauguration of the new President, the President of the National Assembly shall take charge of the Presidency of the Republic. … Pending election and inauguration of the new President, the Executive Vice-President shall take charge of the Presidency of the Republic. …
Article 234: A President of the Republic who becomes temporarily unavailable to serve shall be replaced by the Executive Vice-President for a period of up to 90 days, which may be extended by resolution of the National Assembly for an additional 90 days.
Article 233, therefore, says in one clause that “the President of the National Assembly [this being Juan Guaido, the man whom U.S. President Trump selected to be Venezuela’s President] shall take charge,” and also it says that “the Executive Vice President shall take charge.” (Trump didn’t appoint that person, but skipped over him so as to appoint Guaido.) The Article doesn’t say that, first, one will be in charge, and, then, then other will be in charge. It gives both of them that authority simultaneously. This chaotic 144-page Constitution of Venezuela is stupidly written (so stupidly as to contain such outright self-contradictions), but does it really provide a basis — even one that’s contradicted — for the President of the National Assembly (Guaido) to take charge as the nation’s President (such as Trump implicitly assumes and now goes so far as to dictate to be the case)? Not at all. Because, in either of those two options, the Supreme Tribunal of Justice has not, as of yet, authorized the removal of the President, and the Constitution makes that authorization the necessary prerequisite for removing an existing President. Consequently, no matter what, the announcement by Guaido, that he now is President, is, under the Constitution, his treason against the state, and should be treated as such, and it constitutes a brazen coup-attempt, on the part of U.S. President Trump, and of his chosen Venezuelan stooge, Guaido.
So: the U.S. President’s preferred part of the Constitutional Article’s self-contradiction does authorize the “President of the National Assembly … [to] take charge of the Presidency of the Republic,” but only IF the Supreme Tribunal of Justice FIRST “rule as to whether or not there are grounds for impeaching the President of the Republic or whomever may be acting in that capacity, and if so, to retain competence of the proceedings, subject to the approval of the National Assembly,” WHICH HASN’T HAPPENED. None of it has. (And that, of course, is true regardless of which side of the self-contradiction is chosen.) Under the Constitution, the approval of the National Assembly can’t happen — not even if that side of the self-contradiction is chosen — until after the Supreme Tribunal of Justice authorizes it to consider possibly impeaching the President. And, furthermore, if an existing Venezuelan President is to be removed for incompetence, then that, too, requires the Supreme Judicial Tribunal to authorize the National Assembly to consider whether or not to remove the President. Furthermore, in such an instance, Article 234 specifies — and without contradicting itself or anything else in the Constitution — that the President “shall be replaced by the Executive Vice-President,” and NOT by the President of the National Assembly. So, Guaido isn’t authorized, at all. He’s merely a traitor to Venezuela, that’s all. He should be hanged.
Isn’t Trump displaying complete disregard for Venezuelan law, on this matter? And yet, on January 31st, the U.S. aristocracy’s vassal states as represented in the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly to back the Trump regime and to throw the rule-of-law and democracy to the winds, by voting 439 MPs for, and only 104 against, demanding that Maduro step down immediately and that Guaido be installed immediately as Venezuela’s ‘interim President’. Any pretenses to ‘rule of law’ and to democracy are now publicly exposed as fraudulent in the American empire. All bow down now to Emperor Trump! But, fortunately, that mainly symbolic vote does not have force over the individual nations within the U.S.-created EU.
Americans might have the nerve to think that U.S. elections are so clean so that George W. Bush was ‘democratically elected’ as America’s President, and so that Donald Trump was ‘democratically elected’ also, and so that Bernie Sanders, who won all 55 West Virginia counties but at the Democratic National Convention received less than half of West Virginia’s delegate-votes, wasn’t cheated out of the Democratic Party’s nomination by Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party itself, the DNC. But how would this stupidity and arrogance authorize America’s dictator to pick Venezuela’s President? In no way. And yet, America’s vassal-nations around the world have joined the call of the would-be international dictator Donald Trump and his would-be Venezuelan stooge Juan Guaido.
Like the Wall Street Journal reported on January 25th, “on Jan. 10, Mr. Maduro was sworn in for his second term. That day, Mr. Pompeo spoke with opposition leader Mr. Guaidó,” and, on January 23rd, Guaido declared himself to be Venezuela’s interim President, the very next day after the U.S. Vice President, Mike Pence, had told him, on January 22nd, to do it, and had told him to cite paragraph 233 of Venezuela’s Constitution as the authorization to do it.
The international dictatorship’s ploy of saying that this is to be just an “interim presidency” is basically like its promises in February 2014 that installing Arseniy Yatsenyuk to replace the democratically elected President of Ukraine wasn’t to be a regime-change, a coup, but simply ‘installation of democracy’ there, and only on an ‘interim’ basis. Democracy is not something that’s installed; only dictatorships are installed. And once a foreign nation installs its person, that is never just ‘temporary’ — it’s instead a purge and replacement of the government, and the instituting of ‘legal’ changes to make it permanent. It’s a coup, and it is conquest of a foreign nation. And it violates the U.N. Charter, which says: “All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.” As both the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post have made clear, Trump has not only been offering carrots to prospective Venezuelan traitors in this, but also sticks, such as that they will be imprisoned if they refuse to comply with his demands. For example, he promises (as the Washington Post reported) to “use the newly declared interim government as a tool to deny Maduro the oil revenue from the United States that provides Venezuela virtually all of its incoming cash.” And that’s very definitely “the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.” So, unless international law means nothing at all, Trump is violating it. And, certainly, Guaido is violating Venezuela’s Constitution. Both men should be hanged for what they are doing. After all, the Nazis were, at Nuremberg. Furthermore, the precedent of finally enforcing the most important provisions of international law in the modern era would greatly improve international relations. Maybe that’s why it won’t be done.
America’s billionaires want to rape the entire planet, especially Venzuela, but most Venezuelans would rather resist than capitulate. In any case, The West’s hypocrisies about ‘bringing the rule of law to the underdeveloped countries’ have never been more screamingly blatant than they are right now.
Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.