AP News, Reuters, USA Today, ABC News, and several other large news media outlets with international audiences are incorrectly reporting that Juan Guaidó “declared himself” the new President of Venezuela. Guaidó didn’t declare himself anything; he was duly elected Interim President by the National Assembly according to provisions in the Constitution.
What these news outlets are failing to report is that there are currently two competing governments in Venezuela. One of them, headed by Guaidó, is the “legitimate” government while the other one, the illegitimate one, is Nicolas Maduro’s private state. (It is highly ironic, and not lost on us, that an Institute founded by libertarian anarchists is making constitutional arguments for which government is “legitimate”).
Article 233 of the Constitution of 1999 (nationally and internationally recognized as the current constitution) holds that in the event there is no President-elect when the incumbent President’s term officially expires, the National Assembly will elect an interim president to run the basic functions of the state until free and fair elections happen. The National Assembly that elected Guaidó is the same Assembly that was elected by Venezuelan voters in 2015, back when a majority of eligible voters participated in the country’s elections.
In 2017, during the height of the anti-government protests, Nicolas Maduro decreed that the National Assembly was dossolved and that the Constitution of 1999 was suspended. Maduro claimed constitutional powers to create a new assembly, and in December 2017 the dictatorship convened an election, with a historically low turnout of only 3 million or fewer.
Not surprisingly, the United Socialist Party (PSUV) held a stunnig majority in the new “Constituent National Assembly” in which Maduro’s own wife and son are Assembly members. The Bolivarian regime then drafted a new constitution in 2018 while the Constituent Assembly “officially dissolved” all political parties not represented in the current legislature. (There are only Marxist parties in the Constituent Assembly.)
Maduro’s six-year term officially expired on January 10th. On that day, the National Assembly elected Juan Guaidó as the provisional President of the Republic according to Article 233. President Guaidó’s election was endorsed by the Supreme Court in exile. Meanwhile, the day of Guaidó’s election, Maduro was sworn in by the new rubber stamp Supreme Court that he made.
Guaidó was sworn in by the National Assembly on January 23. His swearing in was accompanied by marches by millions of angry Venezuelans protesting in all 23 states and demanding an end to Maduro’s reign. Hence, there are two competing governments in Venezuela–one is legal and constitutional and the other is Maduro’s royal court. The only person in Venezuela to “declare himself” President is Nicolas Maduro.
The greatest irony is that Guaidó was lawfully elected Interim President according to the same constitution that Hugo Chavez had drafted for himself to make himself unimpeachable!
The Libertarian Movement of Venezuela previously declared their support for Guaidó’s election and swearing in by the National Assembly for the sole purpose of peacefully forcing Maduro to step down and step aside. The Libertarian state parties of Nevada and Florida (USA) have reaffirmed their solidarity with the Venezuela’s Libertarians, that they don’t recognize Maduro’s right to the presidency, and that they look to Alianza Soy Venezuela (the classical liberal I Am Venezuela Alliance) for guidance on which public servants are worthy of popular support.
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The Mises-Mambi Institute does not endorse political parties or candidates. We promote libertarian ideas and human rights, and we cover their development in Cuba and Venezuela. In symbolic defiance of the military and economic alliance between the Castro and Maduro regimes, this Institute also covers and promotes the growth of libertarianism in Venezuela.