The National Assembly began its 2017 legislative session today by swearing in the head of the Primero Justicia (PJ) party Julio Borges as its president for the year. Borges replaces Accion Democratica‘s (AD) Henry Ramos Allup, who held the post for the 2016 year.
Borges said that under his watch, the National Assembly would push five new laws through a vote within its first few sessions. The five laws appear to be new versions of bills that were struck down by the Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (TSJ) as being unconstitutional for a host of different reasons.
Borges studied philosophy and political science at Boston College before attending Oxford University to study public policy and Latin American studies. In Venezuela, he studied law at the Universidad Catolica Andres Bello. He founded the Primero Justicia party in 1992.
According to El Nacional, the National Assembly will begin its 2017 session with these five laws:
- Ley de Barrio [Slum Law]: Will focus on granting property ownership rights to individuals living in the country’s slums.
- An unnamed law that will allow workers to become the owners of companies.
- Ley de Prevención del Delito [Crime Prevention Law]
- Ley de Justicia Comunitaria [Community Justice Law]: Will focus on “searching for peace, reconciliation and the prevention of violence in the home”.
- Ley de Produccion Nacional [National Production Law]: Will focus on “restarting” private enterprise and farming operations. i
Borges also spoke on Maduro’s threat yesterday that the National Assembly was about to “auto-dissolve” because Borges was not keeping agreements that he had supposedly made with Maduro. Borges essentially said that he did not know what Maduro was referring to, because he had not communicated either with himself nor with any other opposition deputy at the national Assembly.
Mr. Maduro never communicated with me. Contrary to what would happen in any democratic country, we do not hold any type of communication.
I don’t see any type of change, just a rotation. It’s the same people and it’s the same speech that he [Maduro] gave last year.
Borges: “Venezuela is the Kingdom of Darkness and Chaos”
During as speech he delivered shortly after being sworn in as president at the National Assembly, Borges called Maduro’s Venezuela “the kingdom of darkness and chaos”, and lamented the systematic looting and decay that the country has experienced under PSUV control.
Venezuela is the richest country on the planet. Her people rummage through the garbage for food. Her citizens are frustrated and malnourished, and our grandparents faint in the long lines [they join] looking for medicine.
Addressing Maduro, Borges said:
The people are the stewards of democracy. They have a right to vote and choose their future. Mr. Maduro: do not continue to play at continuing to hold back the people’s sovereignty.
He also addressed members of the armed forces, calling on them to hold true to their promise to protect the constitution and live up to the legacy of Simon Bolivar, who liberated Venezuela from Spanish rule in the 19th century. Borges said:
To our uniformed brothers at the National Bolivarian Armed Forces: the challenge is simple. Do you want to be the dignified heirs of El Libertador [literally, “the Liberator”, a common way to refer to Simon Bolivar in Venezuela], or do you want to be remembered as Maduro’s guardians? That is the challenge before you. We know that you’re living through the same chaos that Venezuelans are living through.
NA To Push Ahead With Vacating Maduro’s Post
Borges also said that the National Assembly would move ahead with a measure that would vacate Maduro’s position by declaring that he has abandoned his post. Borges cited the country’s unacceptably high crime, inflation and poverty statistics in arguing that Maduro had effectively ceased to be the President of Venezuela by overseeing continued constitutional violations in the country.
It is clear to us, to the Venezuelan people and to the world that when he abandoned the Constitution, Nicolas Maduro abandoned his post when it comes to his duty to govern.
By declaring Maduro’s post vacant, Borges said that the National Assembly would “open the door” to general elections in the country.
Declaration of Abandonment Unprecedented, Likely to be Ignored
In the event that the National Assembly does declare Maduro’s post to be vacant, it is a virtual certainty that neither Maduro nor the Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (TSJ) will react to the ruling.
The Venezuelan Constitution does not outline mechanism by which the National Assembly can declare the office of President of the Republic to be vacant. The term abandono del cargo [which is the same that Borges used and means “abandonment of position”], appears only once in the Constitution, in article 233.
Article 233 reads [emphasis mine]:
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.
The Constitution does not outline the steps by which the National Assembly can actually declare the abandonment of the position or for which reasons, making the move unprecedented and difficult to execute.
Gonzalez Will Head MUD Bloc; Guevara In As VP
Un Nuevo Tiempo deputy for the Capital District Stalin Gonzalez will head the Mesa de la Unidad (MUD) bloc at the National Assembly this year. Gonzalez is 35 years old and was the president of the Permanent Commission for Administration and Services at the legislature last year.
Freddy Guevara, Voluntad Popular (VP) deputy for Miranda state, became the vice-president of the Assembly’s executive committee. Prior to entering congress for the day, Guevara told reporters:
I will take the vice presidency of parliament responsibly. This is a vice presidency that I hope I will be able to exercise to our people’s satisfaction.
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