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Message from OAS Secretary General on Venezuela

  June 3, 2017

The collapse of institutional function in Venezuela is the direct responsibility of its authorities.

Over the last months, the regime in Venezuela has buried democracy, the separation of powers, justice, civil guarantees, political, economic, and social rights as well as all the principles that constitute a legitimate government.

All the members of the current illegitimate government are responsible, and the role of the President of the National Electoral Council, Tibisay Lucena, has been crucial in the institutional collapse.

An independent, impartial, healthy electoral body with adequate technical capabilities is fundamental to guarantee the political rights of citizens. Its responsibility is nothing less that the protection of the strict respect for the right to political expression of the people, the only sovereign in all nations, through the exercise of universal suffrage in free and fair elections.

As a consequence, it is unthinkable in any democratic government that the person who directs the National Electoral Council allows it to become the instrument of the end of democracy.

Her direct action was decisive in depriving the Venezuelan people of its constitutional right to a recall referendum in 2016.

From the CNE, she deployed an arbitrary strategy, delaying indefinitely the collection of signatures, forcing calendars, imposing unprecedented recounts, redesigning districts and regions at her convenience to definitively avoid the convening of the referendum, and the expression of the popular will.

In addition, on May 25 Ms. Lucena -the same person who also has denied the constitutional rights of the people to elect its governors- announced her support for the illegitimate, unconstitutional, and fraudulent National Constituent Assembly promoted by the regime.

Tibisay Lucena has thus become the President of an Electoral Council that is violating the principle of universal vote, disregarding the provisions in articles 62 and 63 of the Bolivarian Constitution, in which it is recognized that "suffrage is a right. It will be exercised through free, universal, direct and secret votes. The law will guarantee the principle of the personalization of suffrage and proportional representation."

Based on a regressive and forced interpretation imposed by the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court, which substitutes the right to universal suffrage for indirect mechanisms of election in the election of parish councils, the CNE has pieced together an unstable scaffolding upon which it convenes a fraudulent Constituent Assembly.

All this to protect a presidential initiative that clearly lacks any kind of legitimacy of origin.

By announcing that the CNE increased the number of constituents to 545, and that they will be chosen on sectoral and territorial bases, Ms. Lucena endorses the abolition of the universal vote for the exercise of popular sovereignty.

The formula announced by Tibisay Lucena is as technically absurd as it is unconstitutional and undemocratic. The convocation of the Constituent Assembly is taking place outside of that stipulated in article 347 of the Constitution, which states that the Venezuelan people are the only ones who possess the original constituent power. In this way, it definitively puts an end to the right of the Venezuelan people to democracy.

The only ones who will be able to exercise their right to vote are unionized students, unionized business leaders, unionized farmers, unionized persons with disabilities, unionized workers, unionized pensioners, and community councils. The ascendancy of these ideas lies in the corporatist and totalitarian political lines of fascism.

It is hard to believe that there exists a country in the Americas that, in the 21st century, has made such an arbitrary and anachronistic decision. Not only does it deprive the sovereign of its right to elect by universal suffrage, imposing an unjustifiable restricted vote, but it also robs the sovereign of any decision-making capacity in the future by forcing the convening of an illegitimate Constituent Assembly, which seeks to definitively denaturalize the Magna Carta.

It is difficult to conceive a more forced, discriminatory and arbitrary legal aberration.

Ms. Lucena is the author and co-responsible for the worst attack on the institutional functioning in Venezuela. And that is not resolved by calling a referendum to approve the Constitution once it has been written. That does not resolve the legal and constitutional defects of origin in the process, that is de-legitimized because it ignored the people as the true constituent power.

As Secretary General of the Organization of American States I must condemn this attack against the essential foundation of democracy: universal suffrage.

And as a citizen of the Americas I will always be among those who are aware that dictatorships are not only forged on the basis of tyrants who repress, imprison, torture, cut off freedoms, sow hunger, poverty and disease. In order to exist, dictatorships also need people like Tibisay Lucena, who -abusing their functions and diverting their institutional responsibilities- are able to abandon principles and values to preserve their position and their rights, regardless of what is being sacrificed in return, nothing less than the will of the people.

People like Tibisay Lucena, that continue stripping democracy of its content, work to serve the consolidation of the interests of a dictatorship imposed through the suffering of its people, sustained by the killing of its people, by the political imprisonment of opposition leaders, and by torture.

The sterility of the manipulated sentences of the Supreme Court is clear proof of that.

It is not even possible to determine what exercise of legal fiction she had to undertake in order to reach the conclusion that the direct expression of the popular will through universal suffrage in a referendum is not only not necessary to convene a Constituent Assembly, but it is dispensable and may be replaced by another expression of the Public Power.

The only possible conclusion is that the Supreme Court of Venezuela violates with impunity all the basic principles of democracy and the rule of law, by conflating the sovereignty of the nation with the expression of the will of the President of the Republic.

This undoubtedly represents a further advance of the authoritarian model and the imposition of a definitive gag on the voice of the people.

Fortunately, the Attorney General raised her voice once again. We completely support and echo the statements of Attorney General Luisa Ortega Díaz, who rejected the admission of the initiative of President Maduro to exercise the convening of the Constituent Assembly, violating all forms of popular participation, the principles and progressive nature of human rights.

We support her request for clarification regarding whether the Supreme Court understands that the validity of participatory and proactive democracy in the country has been lost, its position regarding the sovereignty of the nation, whether it believes that the Public Power is above the people, and what the real terms of the initiative are.

Reference: E-047/17