In a televised speech broadcast earlier today, Maduro warned that the National Assembly was on the brink of “auto-dissolving” were it to go ahead with the swearing in of its executive committee tomorrow to start the 2-17 parliamentary session. The head of the Primero Justicia party, Julio Borges, is expected to be sworn in as President of the National Assembly tomorrow at the legislature’s first meeting of the near year, replacing Accion Democratica‘s Henry Ramos Allup.

On the parliamentary session scheduled for tomorrow, Maduro said:

Tomorrow there’s going to be an interesting debate at the National Assembly. Unfortunately, they have nothing to so. I hope that sooner rather than later they adhere to our agreements before it’s too late. By the looks of it, the National Assembly is on its way to auto-dissolving.

Maduro said that following the “auto-dissolving” of the National Assembly, new parliamentary elections would take place.

It is not exactly clear which agreements Maduro demanded that the National Assembly adhere to, or why exactly he feels that tomorrow’s session is somehow in breach of these agreements. At the moment, it appears as if Maduro was referring to an earlier agreement that the opposition came to with the PSUV to engage in a dialogue.

It is also likely that Maduro was referring to a ruling by the Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (TSJ) [Supreme Court] from September 5 of last year which declared every act by the National Assembly to be null and void moving forward given the legislature’s incorporation of three deputies from Amazonas states whose election to the Assembly was under review. The TSJ’s September 5 ruling still stands, even tough the National Assembly accepted the Amazonas deputies’ resignation on November 15.

There is no legal mechanism by which the legislative branch can “auto-dissolve”. According to Article 240 of the Constitution, only the President of the Republic can dissolve the National Assembly under one very specific set of circumstances: if the legislature votes by a 2/3 majority to censure the vice-president three times in one term.

Earlier in the day, the PSUV bloc at the National Assembly announced that its deputies would attend tomorrow’s swearing-in of the 2017 executive committee, but that they considered the act “illegitimate”.

Maduro Shuffles Cabinet; El Aissami New VP

Maduro made twelve cabinet changes today, among them for the position of vice-president. Venezuela’s new vice-president is Aragua state governor Tarek El Aissami, who replaces Aristobulo Isturiz.

Below, a list of the other changes that Maduro made to his cabinet today:

  • Every ministry related to the economy will be fused into the Ministry of the Economy and Finance, which will be headed by National Assembly deputy Ramon Lobo Moreno.
  • Nelson Martinez replaces Eulogio Del Pino as the Minister of Oil and Mining and President of PDVSA.
  • National Assembly deputy Elias Jaua replaces Roduflo Perez as Minister of Education.
  • National Assembly deputy Hugbel Roa replaces Jorge Arreaza as Minister of University Education, Science and Technology.
  • Adan Chavez (Hugo Chavez’s brother) replaces Freddy Nanez as Minister of Culture.
  • National Assembly deputy Francisco Torrealba replaces Oswaldo Vera as Minister of Social Processes and Labour.
  • Antonieta Caporale replaces Luisana Melo as Minister of Health.
  • Aristobulo Isturiz becomes Minister of Communes and Social Movements.
  • Erika Farias replaces Lorena Freites as Minister of Communes and Urban Agriculture.
  • Colonel Ramon Celestino Velasquez becomes Minister of Eco-Socialism and Water.
  • Admiral Cesar Alberto Salazar becomes Minister of Transport and Public Works.
  • National Assembly deputy Carmen Melendez becomes Vice-President of National Policy and Sovereignty.

Maduro said that the cabinet shuffle was necessary to face the challenges of 2017, and continued:

We need necessary renovations to the executive cabinet and to call on the ranks of the government for a group of colleagues who combine experience with commitment.

The deputies who were shuffled into cabinet positions – namely Elias Jaua, Ramon Lobo, Hugbel Roa and Francisco Torrealba – will not serve out the rest of their term at the National Assembly.

Maduro: El Aissami Will “Fight Criminals” As VP

After announcing El Aissami’s promotion to the post of vice-president, Maduro praised him as a dedicated chavista who is committed to fighting on behalf of Venezuelans for the Bolivarian cause.

Maduro said:

[El Aissami’s job will be to listen to] the fundamental themes of the country after consulting with the people in order to hear their qualitative and quantitative opinions, in order to guide the great themes that are the economy, the financing of commerce, and the fight (…) against mafias, against criminals.

El Aissami has been governor of Aragua state since 2012. Prior to that, he was the Minister of the Interior from 2008-2012.

El Aissami has also been linked to the drug trade in Venezuela, having been connected by media reports to convicted Venezuelan drug lord Walid Makled. In 2015, The Wall Street Journal cited an anonymous source familiar with a Drug Enforcement Agency investigation into drug trafficking in Venezuela as saying that El Aissami was one of the targets of the investigation.

Maduro urged El Aissami to be relentless in his pursuit of “terrorists”, a term that in the Venezuelan context refers broadly to the opposition and its supporters. Speaking directly to El Aissami, Maduro said:

Spend night and day working for the safety of the people, for peace, in the struggle against criminals, the struggle to clean up the regional and national police, the struggle against the right wing terrorists. Terrorists: surrender because we’re coming for you. You know you are are. Tarek knows who you are and he’s got his handcuffs ready.

During the same announcement, Maduro stressed that Bolivarianism will be “the saviour of the homeland”, and urged his new cabinet to rally behind him:

{I am] the dignified son of Chavez, and we will always place the collective interests of the homeland above pettiness.

10,000 Public Sector Workers Lose Jobs

The Maduro regime is in the midst of a round of massive layoffs of public employees, having put at least 10,000 of them out of work in the last five days. The news comes from the Union Nacional de Trabajadores, and signals a desperate attempt by the regime to lower its expenditures after it plunged the country into its worst economic crisis in the modern era.

El Nacional reports that among the agencies hardest hit by the layoffs are the Ministry of Agriculture, the SENIAT [the tax and revenue agency], and the agency in charge of ports.

Marcela Máspero, a coordinator at the Union Nacional de Trabajadores de Venezuela [National Venezuelan Workers’ Union] (UNETE), said that the government appears to be eliminating the workers through attrition by way of letting their contracts expire. Máspero pointed out that she has heard from public sector workers who have lost their jobs in recent days that they had been state employees for as many as sixteen years.

Máspero stressed that according to the Ley Organica del Trabajo [Labour Law], which regulates all labour in Venezuela, anyone working on contract for more than one year must be turned into a permanent employee, which would grant him or her protections against this type of job termination.

El Nacional points out that last week, another UNETE coordinator – Servando Carbone – warned that the Maduro regime was hoping to cut 300,000 workers from its payroll some time in the near future out of a total 2.8 million public sector employees.

Carbone also decried the regime’s apparent wanton disregard for the country’s labour laws, saying:

These workers have spent years in this situation [working under illegal contracts] with the promise from the State that they would become permanent at any moment.

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3 thoughts on “01.04.17: Auto-Dissolution

  1. Pingback: 01.05.17: The Kingdom of Darkness and Chaos | In Venezuela

  2. Pingback: 01.08.17: Precipitous Increase | In Venezuela

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