By Carlos Montaner
The fate of Venezuela is probably in the hands of Juan Guaidó. He is a 35-year old National Assembly deputy, linked to Voluntad Popular, a party founded by Leopoldo López. He was named president of the National Assembly, which is something like winning a tiger in a raffle. As President of the Assembly he has become, de facto, the interim president of the country, since Nicolás Maduro’s presidency is totally illegitimate.
Venezuela, then, has two presidents. One legitimate and constitutional, which is Juan Guaidó, and the other absolutely fraudulent: Nicolás Maduro. In any case, the Catholic Church had three popes simultaneously in the fourteenth century. Two were declared antipopes. By that rule, in the future Maduro will be declared antipresident.
Those who know Guaidó tell me that he has the maturity and common sense needed for this task. He projects a good image in television. He is endorsed by Luis Almagro, Secretary General of the OAS, 13 of the 14 countries of the Lima Group (except the Mexico of the ineffable AMLO), María Corina Machado, Antonio Ledezma and the US Department of State. He is well backed.
It is even on the carpet the possibility that the Donald Trump’s Administration will continue buying 500,000 barrels of oil daily to Venezuela, the only breath of fresh cash that enters the country, but with the condition that this money is deposited in an escrow account that can only be accessed by the National Assembly through its president. What would be the point of paying an illegitimate government?
But who is this young politician? Guaidó graduated as an industrial engineer from the Andrés Bello Catholic University, with graduate degrees in “public policies” from the George Washington University and IESA, a management school accredited in several countries.
Engineers have an advantage over lawyers: they are accustomed to incorporating the time factor into the jobs they plan. They are usually the best in “management by objectives”, something that is urgently needed in a chaotic country like Venezuela.
In short, Guaidó has enough training and information to straighten out his country. After all, Venezuela has been devastated by Chavismo (three hundred billion dollars were stolen) and, lately, by a half idiot guy who talks to birds and does not know where his right hand is (especially the right.)
Guaidó is part of a brilliant group of self-sacrificing former student leaders, among whom are Yon Goicoechea, Juan Requesens–a political prisoner–, Stalin González and Freddy Guevara, who is living as a refugee in the Chilean Embassy in Caracas for six months now. It is the generation of change. In 2017, the National Guard hit his back and neck with pellets. In other words, he has risked his life in the streets, something that is important in a society in which heroic gestures are valued.
Precisely that is Guaidó’s immediate work. He must summon the people to the streets. He must assume the role of interim president. Which means that he is also the natural chief of the Armed Forces. Theoretically, General Vladimir Padrino López, Minister of Defense, must salute him and obey his orders. The soldiers and junior officers are desperate for that to happen.
As Vice Admiral Mario Iván Carratú told Venezuelan journalist Carla Angola, the Armed Forces are demoralized, as was the Portuguese army when the Carnation Revolution took place in 1974. The soldiers are hungry and don’t have medicines, like the rest of the nation. If Maduro gives the order to attack the demonstrators, Carratú thinks that the soldiers would not comply.
And what would the Cuban government do? It would recommend, of course, resisting any change towards democracy and freedom, but the Havana regime does not have the strength to rescue and sustain the dictatorship. It would take its troops and its personnel, very hated in Venezuela, and they would return to Cuba, perhaps offering asylum to a handful of Venezuelan servants.
Can Guaidó promise the Chavista regime something that unlocks the game? He cannot promise anything that is not approved by the Constitution. Maybe a referendum to let the nation decide on a law that decrees an amnesty for the crimes committed during these years of abuses and vileness. Only that, but not as his or the National Assembly’s commitment, but as a commitment of the whole society. [©FIRMAS PRESS]