Things are looking grim in Venezuela. And violence seems increasingly likely.
Chavistas ready to rumble in Caracas this Thursday, January 10
Hugo Chavez’s United Socialist Party of Venezuela has called on all of his followers to flock to the streets of Caracas on January 10, the day on which the absent president-elect is supposed to be sworn in.
The call went out today from Chavista party officials as a response to the opposition’s threat of a general strike on that day.
According to the Venezuelan constitution, if the president-elect is unable to attend his inauguration, Diosdado Cabello, the president of the National Assembly, is supposed to become acting president and a new election is to be held thirty days later. But Cabello and Nicolas Maduro — Chavez’s hand-picked successor — have been maneuvering in conjunction with officials in Cuba to ensure that the constitution can be ignored and no one can stand in the way of the continuation of Chavismo, even without Chavez or without genuine unity in the Chavista leadership.
Cabello’s summonning of the masses, totally lacking in restraint, did not rule out violence, but rather seemed to call for it. “We need to resoundingly trounce all those who want to destabilize this country,” he said. Chavistas are to assemble around the Miraflores presidential palace “to continue supporting the president, Comandante Chavez, in a convincing manner.”
Cabello also said to the largely subservient Venezuelan press that Chavez’s PSUV will confront all those who want to “sow doubts” about constitutional issues.
He also indicated that other Latin American leaders would be present to demonstrate their “solidarity” with the ailing Chavez.
These public affirmations of support for Chavez are seen by some as hollow attempts to hide the power struggle that is currently absorbing the energies of Chavez’s closest associates and the leaders of the Cuban oligarchy.
“We don’t really know who is governing Venezuela right now, and that’s the reality,” said Julio Borges, a leader of the opposition coalition Justice First. Borges added that the opposition is going to mount public demonstrations over the next few days, and make formal pleas to foreign embassies to do something about the current power vacuum in Venezuela. “The Chavistas want to blame the opposition, the foreign media, and the whole world for the divisions, fractures, and internal struggles that the ruling elites are now having.”