It remains to be seen whether Venezuela’s military servicemen are patriots or traitors, whether they contribute to the recouping of their country’s democracy or they deliver their country to a Castroist charter.

The astounding rejection by the Venezuelan people, that was amply demonstrated this past 16th of July, to a corporative constituent assembly has left no doubt that Venezuela’s regime lacks legitimacy and legality to sustain itself in power. The uninterrupted protests over the past four months shows a nation decided to regain its democracy in spite of over 100 dead and thousands of wounded that the government has caused in order to sustain itself in power.  Maduro’s popularity is less than a meager 10% while his rejection rate is over 90%. International criticism acknowledging Maduro to be on the outer fringes of democracy is overwhelming. One week before its illegal Constituent Assembly is established, Venezuela has a “de facto” regime, a dictatorship solely sustained by an undue use of force.

Every government needs, as a minimum, to meet conditions of legality and legitimacy. Legality is obtained by carrying out and abiding by the laws, they are the correspondence of the government’s actions to “what is prescribed by law and according to it”. Legality is expressed by the “Rule of Law”, in other words the set of constitutional and legal mandates that regulate access to and performance of power including the basic elements of democracy contained in the OAS’ Interamerican Democratic Charter that includes; “respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, access to and performance in positions of power abiding by the Rule of Law; conduct of periodic free and fair elections based on universal and secret suffrage as an expression of people’s sovereignty, plurality of political parties and organizations, and the separation and independence of the branches of government.”

Legitimate is that which is “true, genuine, real”. Legitimacy from a political science’s perspective “judges the capability of those in power to command obedience without the need of pressure from threats or the use of force” it deals with the concept that denotes the acceptance of discharging power and authority by a consensus amongst the political community. In a democracy legitimacy deals with the performance of the political authority by mandate of the sovereign people. Legitimacy of origin is granted through elections with “secret universal suffrage” while the legitimacy of performance depends on the level of consensus that the actions of the government earn from the constituency.

If we review the history of Nicolas Maduro’s government from a point of view of legality, we will see that at its origin this is power birthed in flagrant violation of the Rule of Law -amongst others- through the unconstitutional maneuvering to make Maduro eligible to run in elections that were forced to be conducted following the death of Hugo Chavez.   The placement of Maduro as “President” was simply a succession ordained and manipulated by the 21st Century Socialism’s political non-democratic model’s powerbase with flagrant foreign intervention by the Cuban regime, tainted by the violation and lack of the basic elements of a democracy. Elections conducted on the 14th of April of 2013 with clear indications of electoral fraud against candidate Henrique Capriles and the subsequent coverup of the fraud through the total control of all of the government’s institutions to benefit the designated heir Nicolas Maduro, were another sign of illegality that stoked the fire of the lack of legitimacy.

Hugo Chavez’s death provoked an internal political confrontation inside Venezuela’s ruling party. Within this same regime “Chavistas” confronted “Castroists”, the first advocating they comply with the designation of Nicolas Maduro made by Hugo Chavez himself with the support of “Havana” and the second led by Diosdado Cabello. The Castroists with their man Maduro won the fight. The most noticeable result was, without any doubt, the immediate consolidation of the Cuban dictatorship’s political leadership of Latin America with Venezuela as its main source of revenue, now almost converted into a colony.

The economic-political model of the Castro-Chavism, or 21st Century’s Socialism also implemented in Ecuador with Correa, Bolivia with Evo Morales, Argentina with the Kirchner’s, Nicaragua with the Ortega’s, and far more advanced in Venezuela soon produced the terrible economic crisis that the wealthiest oil producing country in the region now endures.   An authoritarian, centralist, statist, interventionist system that institutionalized corruption, submissiveness, and the squandering of resources took Venezuela to a situation of hunger and misery that the people now endure, the same people that Chavez, Castro, and Maduro deceived with promises of liberation. With all of this, the already questioned legality of Maduro was further shaken by the total absence of legitimacy, both aggravated by Maduro’s submissive response in applying Castroist’s crisis control methodology that has netted the Venezuela we see today only wanting the end of Maduro’s regime.

An essential element of dictatorships is “the indefinite stay in power” and this is what prevents Maduro to seek a rational and patriotic solution in Venezuela. Maduro is compelled by the transnational Castroists led from Havana to stay in power, he cannot give-up power, he must “consolidate the [Castro-Chavist] revolution” with a façade of socialism even if this may be against the will of all Venezuelans.   This is why they have invented and convened a Constituent Assembly for 30 July 2017 that lacks legality and legitimacy. This is why the Cuban dictatorship uses all of its mechanisms and allies including; Russia, China, North Korea, the FARC from Colombia, Petrocaribe, their block at the U.N., its dwindling control of the OAS and its bootlicking governments of Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua and El Salvador to sustain Maduro.

Venezuela’s dictatorship knows that the use of force sustains it, it also knows this is a decreasing, weakened and dwindling force. It remains to be seen whether Venezuela’s military servicemen are patriots or traitors, whether they contribute to the recouping of their country’s democracy or they deliver their country to a Castroist charter.

Published in Spanish by Diario las Américas on Sunday July 23rd, 2017

*The opinions published herein are the sole responsibility of its author.*