[News] Juan Guaidó: The Man Who Would Be President of Venezuela Doesn’t Have a Constitutional Leg to Stand On

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Fri Feb 8 15:58:21 EST 2019


  Juan Guaidó: The Man Who Would Be President of Venezuela Doesn’t Have
  a Constitutional Leg to Stand On

By Roger Harris - February 8, 2019

Donald Trump imagines Juan Guaidó is the rightful president of 
Venezuela. Mr. Guaidó, a man of impeccable illegitimacy, was exposed 
by Dan Cohen and Max Blumenthal as “a product of a decade-long project 
overseen by Washington’s elite regime change trainers.” Argentinian 
sociologist Marco Teruggi described Guaidó in the same article as “a 
character that has been created 
for this circumstance” of regime change. Here, his constitutional 
credentials to be interim president of Venezuela are deconstructed.

Educated at George Washington University in DC, Guaidó was virtually 
unknown in his native Venezuela before being thrust on to the world 
stage in a rapidly unfolding series of events. In a poll 
conducted a little more than a week before Guaidó appointed himself 
president of the country, 81% of Venezuelans had never even heard of the 

To make a short story 
shorter, US Vice President Pence phoned Guaidó on the evening of January 
22^rd and asked him how’d he like to be made president of Venezuela. The 
next day, Guaidó announced that he considered himself president of 
Venezuela, followed within minutes by US President Trump confirming the 

A few weeks before on January 5, Guaidó had been selected as president 
of Venezuela’s National Assembly, their unicameral legislature. He had 
been elected to the assembly from a coastal district with 26% of the 
vote. It was his party’s turn for the presidency of the body, and he was 
hand-picked for the position. Guaidó, even within his own party, was not 
in the top leadership.

Guaidó’s party, Popular Will, is a far-right marginal group whose most 
enthusiastic boosters are John Bolton, Elliott Abrams, and Mike Pompeo. 
Popular Will had adopted a strategy of regime change by 
extra-parliamentary means rather than engage in the democratic electoral 
process and had not participated in recent Venezuelan elections.

Although anointed by Trump and company, Guaidó’s Popular Will Party is 
not representative of the “Venezuelan opposition,” which is a fractious 
bunch whose hatred of Maduro is only matched by their abhorrence of each 
other. Leading opposition candidate Henri Falcón 
who ran against Maduro in 2018 on a neoliberal austerity platform, had 
been vehemently opposed by Popular Will who demanded that he join their 
US-backed boycott 
of the election.

The Venezuelan news outlet, /Ultimas Noticias/, reported that prominent 
opposition politician Henrique Capriles, who had run against Maduro in 
2013, “affirmed during an interview that the majority of opposition 
parties did not agree 
with the self-swearing in of Juan Guaidó as interim president of the 
country.” Claudio Fermin 
<https://www.aporrea.org/oposicion/n337146.html>, president of the party 
Solutions for Venezuela, wrote “we believe in the vote, in dialogue, we 
believe in coming to an understanding, we believe Venezuelans need to 
part ways with the extremist 
<https://www.aporrea.org/tiburon/n337622.html> sectors that only offer 
hatred, revenge, lynching.” Key opposition governor of the State of 
Táchira, Laidy Gómez, has rejected 
Guaidó’s support of intervention by the US, warning that it “would 
generate death of Venezuelans.”

The Guaidó/Trump cabal does not reflect the democratic consensus in 
Venezuela, where polls consistently show super majorities oppose outside 
Popular opinion in Venezuela supports negotiations between the 
government and the opposition as proposed by Mexico, Uruguay, and the 
Vatican. The Maduro administration has embraced the negotiations as a 
peaceful solution to the crisis facing Venezuela.

The US government rejects a negotiated solution 
in the words of Vice President Pence: “This is no time for dialogue; 
this is time for action.” This intransigent position is faithfully 
echoed by Guaidó. So while most Venezuelans want peace, the 
self-appointed president, backed by the full force of US military power, 
wrote in a New York Times 
op-ed that it was possible to “end the Maduro regime with a minimum of 

The Guaidó/Trump cabal’s fig leaf for legitimacy is based on the bogus 
that Article 233 of the Venezuelan constitution 
<https://venezuelanalysis.com/constitution> gives the National Assembly 
the power to declare a national president’s “abandonment” of the office. 
In which case, the president of the National Assembly can serve as an 
interim national president, until presidential elections are held. The 
inconvenient truth is that Maduro has shown no inclination to abandon 
his post, and the constitution says no such thing.

In fact, the grounds for replacing a president are very clearly laid out 
in the first paragraph of Article 233 
<https://venezuelanalysis.com/constitution/title/5> of the Venezuelan 
constitution and do not include fraudulent or illegitimate election, 
which is what the cabal has been claiming. In the convoluted logic of 
the US government and its epigones, if the people elect someone the 
cabal doesn’t like, the election is by definition fraudulent and the 
democratically elected winner is /ipso facto /a dictator.

The function of adjudicating the validity of an election, as in any 
country, is to be dealt with through court challenges, not by turning to 
Donald Trump for his approval. And certainly not by anointing an 
individual from a party that could have run in the 2018 election but 
decided to boycott.

The National Electoral Council (CNE), Venezuela’s separate electoral 
branch, has certified Maduro’s reelection, as have independent 
international observers. A transparent and redundant auditing process of 
the vote had been conducted at each polling station and all party 
representatives – including opposition ones – signed off on the validity 
of the process when the polls closed. Further, no appeal was filed by 
any of the boycotting parties.

Maduro was sworn into office under constitutional Article 231 before the 
Supreme Tribunal of Justice <https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/14211> 
(TSJ), which is the separate high court branch of the Venezuelan 
government. The TSJ had previously found the National Assembly to be in 
judicial contempt under Article 336:7, because the assembly had sworn in 
three deputies temporarily suspended because of voting irregularities.

The far-right opposition has boycotted the high court as well as the 
electoral process. They contest the legitimacy of the TSJ because some 
members of the TSJ were appointed by a lame duck National Assembly 
favorable to Maduro, after a new National Assembly with a majority in 
opposition had been elected in December 2015 but not yet seated.

Even if President Maduro were somehow deemed to have experienced what is 
termed a /falta absoluta /(i.e., some sort of void in the presidency due 
to death, insanity, absence, etc.), the National Assembly president is 
only authorized to take over if the /falta absoluta/ occurs before the 
lawful president "takes possession." However, Maduro was already "in 
possession” before the January 10, 2019 presidential inauguration and 
even before the May 10, 2018 presidential election. Maduro had won the 
presidency in the 2013 election and ran and won reelection last May.

If the /falta absoluta/ is deemed to have occurred during the first four 
years of the presidential term, the vice president takes over. Then the 
constitution decrees that a snap election for the presidency must be 
held within 30 days. This is what happened when President Hugo Chávez 
died while in office in 2013. Then Vice President Nicolás Maduro 
succeeded to the presidency, called for new elections, and was elected 
by the people of Venezuela.

If it is deemed that the /falta absoluta/ occurred during the last two 
years of the six-year presidential term, the vice president serves until 
the end of the term, according to the Venezuelan constitution. And if 
the time of the alleged /falta absoluta/ is unclear – when Maduro 
presided over “illegitimate” elections in 2018, as is claimed by the 
far-right opposition – it is up to the TSJ to decide, not the head of 
the National Assembly or even such an august authority as US Senator 
Marco Rubio. Or the craven US press (too numerous to cite), which 
without bothering to read the plain language of the Bolivarian 
Constitution, repeatedly refers to Guaidó as the “constitutionally 
authorized” or “legitimate” president.

As Alfred de Zayas 
United Nations independent expert on the promotion of a democratic and 
equitable international order, tweeted: “Article 233 of the Venezuelan 
constitution is inapplicable and cannot be twisted into legitimizing 
Guaidó’s self-proclamation as interim President. A coup is a coup 

/Roger Harris with the Task Force on the Americas 
<http://taskforceamericas.org/> and the Campaign to End US/Canada 
Sanctions Against Venezuela 

/The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not 
necessarily reflect those of the Venezuelanalysis editorial staff./

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 https://freedomarchives.org/
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