About a Capitulation

“Because a majority of lawmakers is more powerful than a president.”

The campaign slogan used by MUD for the 2015 Legislative elections campaign has been stuck in my head all week. An Assembly that was meant to face down the dictatorship has, instead agreed to a tacit cohabitation with its most blatant abuse of power. It may look like a truce but is, in fact, a capitulation: the price we’ve agreed to pay for a few state governorships.

Remember that no fewer than 17 lawmakers have already registered their candidacies for governor’s posts. The logic is simple: the election rules will depend on the Constituent Assembly. If you’re angling for a governorship, why would you imperil your certificado de buena conducta?

The tragedy is that those who vowed never to recognize the ANC before it was elected are now recognizing it de facto.

Yesterday I watched Nicolás Maduro say that “the National Constituent Assembly has started a process of peaceful cohabitation with the old legislative branch.” How can we explain that, after four intense months of street protests, of international pressure and institutional pushback from the AN itself, the opposition surrenders the very space where it actually operates?

The moderate MUD lawmakers who’ve obsessed all year about “not giving up spaces,” gave up the historic building that is their seat with nary a peep. Even the toilets at the Palacio Legislativo are out of bounds to National Assembly deputies.

If they won’t fight for the very seat for which they were elected, how will they manage governorships under the straight jacket of the ANC?

Venezuelans didn’t take to the streets and risk their lives for regional elections, so that our political leaders could tell us that we’ve “gained something,” when we’ve actually lost more. 

The tragedy is that those who vowed never to recognize the ANC before it was elected are now recognizing it de facto.

The seat of Parliament has been invaded in every sense. The National Assembly has not only cooperated with the Constituyente installation, though its Directorate of Protocol, it stood by and watched as it was stripped of its usual Tuesdays and Thursdays session days (now they get to convene on Mondays and Wednesdays, because that’s the way ANC wants it) —the ANC even took over the Hemiciclo Protocolar as its permanent seat.

We’re talking about a “valiant” National Assembly — only 40 diputados showed up to Wednesday’s session— who must now enter the Palace walking side-by-side with foreign ambassadors in order to protect themselves. Lawmakers who called for a popular consultation promising to abide by its results, and are now subjugated by a fraudulent body.

Of course people feel betrayed.

Arguing that “they don’t have any guns,” at least 109 opposition lawmakers hope to be excused from their responsibility to their electorate. But are guns the only way to defend spaces? Why wait two days after the ANC’s installation to meet, instead of calling for an emergency and permanent session? Why not meet on the streets, in the same defiant spirit that has guided our months of protests? When you let Hugo Chávez’s portraits back into the Federal Palace, you cooperate in demoralizing a society that sacrificed so much, demanding more from its leaders. At this point, one could even argue that the reason AN failed to appoint new CNE board members, like it promised to, is that its governorship hopefuls feared their chances of reaching a state would be destroyed if a new CNE was appointed.

This National Assembly had the full support of the people, yet chose a few electoral promises without guarantees instead of the legitimacy and the historic role that the country demands of them. With this silent cohabitation, how dare you to demand compliance from a society screaming for freedom?

Of course people feel betrayed.

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