The Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD), Venezuela’s official opposition bloc, officially declared itself in a state of open rebellion against the Maduro regime today, and called on all Venezuelans to follow suit and disavow the government. While the MUD has hinted at the measure in the past, today’s announcement marks the first time that the bloc has called on Venezuelans to essentially ignore the Maduro government, including its official authorities.
The MUD’s statement zeroes in on the Constituent Assembly, which Maduro declared into existence on May 1, as a “fraudulent” procedure. The Constituent Assembly has received widespread condemnation–even from within the ruling PSUV party–as an unnecessary process through which Maduro seeks to cement his authoritarian rule over the country.
The statement also hints at a “great national permanent protest” to take place throughout the country simultaneously, although no more details on the measure are provided.
In announcing the state of rebellion, the MUD invoked articles 333 and 350 of the national Constitution, which establish a duty to restore constitutional order in the country if it ceases to exist and disavow tyrannical governments, respectively.
Article 333. This Constitution will not cease to be in effect if it is made to be ignored through force or if it is dissolved by any means other than those outline herein.
In that event, every citizen with or without authority has the duty to help bring it back into effect.
Article 350. The people of Venezuela, loyal to their republican tradition, their struggle for independence, peace and liberty, shall disown any regime, legislation or authority that goes against democratic values, principles and guarantees , or that undermines human rights.
National Assembly president Julio Borges was succinct with his assessment of what being in open rebellion against the regime means for its institutions and orders:
The regime is outside of the constitution and all of its decisions are unconstitutional and cannot be obeyed as per article 350.
Below, my translation of the MUD’s official statement declaring open rebellion against the Maduro regime:
All of Venezuelan is calling for the immediate end to the dictatorial regime, and for the reestablishment of constitutional and democratic order, and we can achieve this united with the most diverse sectors in the country, through free elections and the renovation of [state] institutions.
These 81 days of civil struggle have re-vindicated the people’s courage and the bravery of the most diverse sectors of [this country]. Today, the forces of democratic unity gather to ratify before all Venezuelans their promise to stand up to the fraudulent attempt to convene a so-called constituent assembly that seeks to kidnap the Republic and democracy. The regime’s ferocious repression has murdered more than 80 Venezuelans, the majority of whom were youth, left more than 15,000 injured and [taken] more than 3,000 political prisoners.
But this ferocious repression has not weakened the will to continue in civil struggle on the streets against the regime, and the dictatorship is weaker today. We can count on the support of the international community and the support of important sectors and leaders who have not previously joined us in our struggles, as well as institutions like the Public Ministry of the Republic which has denounced the break in the constitutional order, human rights violations, and the constituent [assembly] fraud, which is the reason why [attorney general Luisa Ortega Diaz] is being harassed by the dictatorship today.
Today, it is important to remember that Venezuelan history has taught us that when the people are united on the streets for the common cause that is liberty, tyranny is defeated.
The complicity between the Executive office, the [Supreme Court] and the [National Electoral Council] in order to carry out the fraud that is the constituent [assembly] has forced us to disown them effective immediately; for this reason, we cannot for any reason wait until July 30 to disown [the government] and as a result it is indispensable to move ahead to a new phase of popular struggle that must include the most diverse sectors of society, specially those who from within the regime have denounced abuses of power and the betrayal of the most important interests of the republic which unite us all.
Article 333 of our constitution states: “This Constitution will not cease to be in effect if it is made to be ignored through force or if it is dissolved by any means other than those outline herein. In that event, every citizen with or without authority has the duty to help bring it back into effect.”
As a result, we declare:
First: That this regime has placed itself outside of the constitution and that as a result, its authority and decisions are not constitutional and cannot be recognized or obeyed by anyone, according to article 350 of the National Constitution.
Second: We invoke article 333 of our constitution, which calls on us to restore constitutional order and as result imposes upon all of society [the duty to] ignore the call for the fraud that is the constituent [assembly], [and calls on us to] appoint new public authorities and to call for free elections for a new government.
Third: That we have entered the decisive phase for the struggle for democracy, and we call on all social and political sectors of the country to unite our efforts in order to achieve the substitution of this dictatorial regime and the restitution of constitutional order.
Fourth: We call on all of the people of Venezuela to stand up against and actively disown the fraud that is the constituent [assembly] throughout the entire country.
Fifth: We call on all of the people of Venezuela, specially the social and political sectors, to organize a great permanent national protest that will take place throughout the country at the same time until we achieve a change from this dictatorial regime and the restoration of the constitutional order. As a consequence, we will make use of all of the democratic and constitutional mechanisms of protest that may be necessary.
Sixth: We call on all institutions, unions, associations and civil society organizations to join [the National Assembly] and publicly declare their rejection and disowning of the fraud that is the National Constituent Assembly, and voice their support for the creation of new public powers and for free elections in order to restore constitutional order.
Seventh: We call on all of the people in every community to organize themselves in “committees for the rescue of democracy” and to join permanent assemblies in order to declare that they will not allow their electoral and community centres [to be used] to violate the constitution, and to be ready for the start of the great permanent and simultaneous national protest.
Eight: We call on the people to keep up non-violent protests and to continue to build pressure on the streets through demonstrations that we will continue to carry out from the [MUD] in order to continue to weaken the dictatorship for the sake of the objectives that we have outlined.
Ninth: We will announce to the country the results of a great National Agreement for Governance and for the Rescue of Venezuela, which political actors and diverse civil society sectors have come to in order to outline the Venezuela of tomorrow.
Tenth: We all on every institution, specially the National Armed Forces, to meet their constitutional duties as outlined in article 328 of the constitution and backed up by article 333.
Supreme Court Moves Ahead with AG Ortega Diaz’s Impeachment
The Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (TSJ), Venezuela’s top court, agreed to move ahead today with the impeachment of attorney general Luisa Ortega Diaz, following her ongoing public break from the politics and conduct of the Maduro regime.
The motion to impeach the attorney general was filed only four days ago by National Assembly deputy Pedro Carreño, who alleged at the time that Ortega Diaz was not mentally fit to carry out her duties given her recent anti-regime statements.
Today’s TSJ decision means that the attorney general will now face impeachment proceedings at a future date that has yet to be determined.
However, even a successful impeachment might not mean the end of Ortega Diaz’s tenure as head of the Public Ministry. In order to be removed from her position, a simple majority at the National Assembly must concur with the impeachment.
Given the fact that the National Assembly is controlled by the opposition, this is unlikely to happen.
AG Ortega Diaz: Venezuelans Live in “State of Terror”
In an interview with Union Radio today, attorney general Ortega Diaz spoke on the nature of the rule of law in Venezuela today and addressed the start of impeachment proceedings against her.
On the general state of law in Venezuela today, she said:
Venezuela is currently living the most dangerous time of its republican history. There’s the danger of a loss of fundamental rights (…) if we lived under the rule of law there would be judicial safety, but that has been dismantled. We’re actually under a state of terror.
The attorney general also warned that her stand against the Maduro regime from inside the Public Ministry might represent “the last door to democracy” left in Venezuela, and said:
I think that the dark specter that is the destruction of the State looms over the country.
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