That everyday "coup d'état": two this week in Venezuela

François Mitterand was a long time opponent of Charles de Gaulle, to the point of writing a book which title was "Le coup d'état permanent", the continuous coup.  He reproached de Gaulle his strong presidential style to the point of equating it to a a rule issue of a coup.  In France with a long tradition of unstable parliamentary government the accusation did ring, but that did not stop Mitterrand, once elected president in 1981 to rule as much or more as an "imperial presidency", US style.

When all is said and done it was rather amusing and somewhat ridiculous because the separation of powers in France had been achieved long ago and was too anchored to be easily corrupted, even for some one with the stature of de Gaulle.  And this did not stop de Gaulle to resign after he lost a referendum that he sponsored.  In Venezuela on the other hand, a president asks for a major referendum, loses it, and goes on applying the failed referendum anyway, through a system that can be justifiably called a "permanent coup" and military at that.  The constitutional violations of the regime, of a Constitution that it wrote itself 11 years ago, cannot be counted anymore.  Every day new violations, based on previous violations, become the law of the land.  This week we got two more for the list.

Today, to start, the regime used again bad weather to justify the take over of land away from a governor legitimately elected.  The souther area of Zulia is again flooded as the regime did not do the necessary work it promised when it already took away the major farms of the area.  See, in a very flat land which Sur del Lago is, you need to dredge regularly the rivers to make sure that water runs to Maracaibo lake as soon as it can manage considering the near zero natural slope.  This was already a problem 4 months ago and it has become again a problem with unseasonal rains.  The government has no excuse because if it could advance that it did not have time to finish dredging scheduled for the rainy season in May, it cannot even demonstrate that such dredging has started!  Thus floods would have also occurred in June, possibly, and Chavez government is caught once again pants down.

But the regime is clever in a way and he uses the natural disaster to liquidate the influence of Zulia governor in the area.  Already 4 months ago it took away all the major farms which were supporters of the Zulia governor.  But apparently this must not have been enough and as jobs were lost, as agriculture starts the expected nose dive once the state takes over, the regime need to move in as a force "for good".  So a new "motor district" is created, through a law that was voted a few months ago against the constitutional disposition.  That motor district is simply an area of Zulia  state that will be now under full control of Caracas.  Period.  If things happen there that go against the interests of the people of Zulia, well, too bad, as the governor could conceivably be barred from visiting the area and protest abuses.  See, the military are the ones taking over the area......

To give you a taste of what the future holds for Sur del Lago, besides joblessness and floods, the regime also decreed today that all the dredging machineries will be taken over by the regime "provisionally", this one assuming only the costs of payroll and gas.  It seems that chavista own polls must tell them that nationalizations have become very unpopular since the people are observing every day the failures of what has already been taken over.  But this provisional is hardly any better because the intent is that if the regime operators wreck the dredges, well, too bad for the owner.

You may ask, while we are at it, how come dredgers are private.  Well, as an easily inundated area many farms probably use such services to clear up their bordering rivers and maybe even to keep clean access to the lake through which they could ship their production.  But the main channels and rivers are a responsibility of the government who wisely does not invest in such seasonal endeavor and supposedly should be paying the people that have these business to do the job.  Clearly, it was not done and this is not surprising for a regime that will only pay for showy project, never on maintenance as considered a poor vote getter.

The other coup of the week was directly inside the armed forces: likely watching the example of Qaddafi in Libya, or the Pasdaran in Iran, Chavez has decided that he needed to have a reliable and armed militia as it looks more and more that in 2012 vote the odds are against him.   And when I use the term militia here, I am using it in its very worst definition: a paramilitary body in the hands of a political constituency.

Thus, in spite of the explicit prohibition of the 1999 Constitution (article 324)  this week a law reform was published arming the militia.  To add insult to constitutional violation, he used for that the enabling law illegally voted last November and which purpose was to rescue the country of the October November floods.  It is simply impossible to tie that arming the militia is a good thing to rebuild the country: the enabling law is used because Chavez does not want the parliament to discuss a law that can only be modified by a 2/3 vote, which he cannot get now.  So this new mini coup d'etat.  The "legal" ruse here is to incorporate the militia to the army but under direct command and organization of the presidency, allowing it to hire civilians according solely to presidential wishes.  Thus the militia will have access to the weapons of war of the Venezuelan army but the army will not be able to anything about it, and even less control its future use, such as in repressing a popular protest complaining about the results of 2012 that Chavez would refuse to acknowledge.  Iran/Ivory Coast style.

Curiously you need to read this blog or the foreign press to measure the magnitude of the militia arming, as it looks that Venezuelan papers either do not get in full yet or are too self-censored to attack Chavez on such an unacceptable thing.

Let's see if the opposition alliance at the MUD is going to wake up and see that such actions wreck any chances they may have to win in 2012....  I ain't not holding my breath.